June 13, 2024
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Biomedical engineering graduate wants to use knowledge to help others

Ann Badia ’24 found a lot of support along her journey, and she shared what she learned through the Watson College career office

Ann Badia ’24 has worked on a variety of research projects during her time at Binghamton University. Ann Badia ’24 has worked on a variety of research projects during her time at Binghamton University.
Ann Badia ’24 has worked on a variety of research projects during her time at Binghamton University. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.

Family always has meant a lot to Ann Badia ’24 — but when she arrived at Binghamton University, away from her parents, she needed to reinvent herself a little.

So that shy kid from the Bronx learned how to be more independent and outgoing, which served her well as she earned her biomedical engineering degree from the Thomas J. Watson College of Engineering and Applied Science.

“When I came here, I was more introverted,” she said. “Being away from home and not always having that support system as close to you, you have to go out there and be able to do things on your own. It’s definitely shaped the person that I am today.”

Badia first became interested in science and engineering while attending St. Raymond Academy for Girls, a Catholic high school where she graduated in the top 10 of her class. She took physics in her final year, but her teacher also encouraged his class to look at engineering as a possible career.

“I chose biomedical engineering because I wanted to be a doctor growing up,” she said. “Once I learned that I could do engineering and apply that to healthcare, I knew that was for me. Doctors don’t have the answers to everything, and they need engineers to help them. Without biomedical engineers, doctors can’t treat their patients successfully.”

At Binghamton, Badia found a lot of support along her journey, including the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), the Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) and the McNair Scholars Program. She also was a Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar and a Reckitt Scholar.

As an undergraduate researcher, she has worked on a variety of projects, including Associate Professor Ahyeon Koh’s fabrication method to turn old CDs into flexible biosensors that are inexpensive and simple to manufacture.

“It’s usually expensive to make these kinds of biomedical devices, so we’re keeping it more accessible to people who couldn’t otherwise afford it,” Badia said. “Hopefully, since it’s easy to replicate, the process can be implemented more once it becomes more robust.”

Koh praised her contribution to the project: “Ann contributes to this study by expanding the creation of the active metal layer from discarded CDs, demonstrating her passion for research. I’m thrilled to see her become a world-class biomedical engineer.”

In addition to classes and research, she also has been a student assistant for the Watson Career and Alumni Connections office and an Engineering Design Division course assistant for first-year students. She also has held leadership roles in organizations such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers.

“Student orgs are really important because they have social interaction but also a professional development aspect to it,” she said. “Working at Watson Career and Alumni Connections has helped me more with my public speaking because I work with students on their resumés or cover letters.”

Assisting students with their career goals is important to her: “There weren’t many people in my family who I could reach out to for professional development. I didn’t have that guidance because both of my parents didn’t go to college or graduate high school. I’m the first to do both, so I had to learn how to do all of these things. Now I’m trying to help others do the same.”

WCAC Director Kim Eiche praised Badia’s many roles as a course assistant, a student organization leader, a researcher, and a presenter at professional conferences and research expositions.

“Ann has truly blossomed during her two years of employment with us,” Eiche said. “She continually takes the initiative to get involved with opportunities that will inspire her growth and development. Not only is Ann an exceptional student academically, but she is a dedicated worker who has undoubtedly made a positive impact on hundreds of Watson College students through her career mentorship.”

After graduation, Badia will spend the summer as an intern at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, then start pursuing a PhD in biomedical engineering this fall at Carnegie Mellon University.

Her long-range goal is to develop new drugs and medical procedures with a special focus on access and care for low-income people of color.

“I want to change the way healthcare is provided in these communities,” she said.

No matter where her life leads, though, she’ll maintain her strong ties to Binghamton: “I’ll definitely be coming back to visit the Watson faculty, as well as the staff at WCAC. These people changed who I am and helped me to grow. I remember who I was before college and compare it to who I am now, and they’re two completely different people.”