What led you to choose science and/or engineering as a career, particularly in the medical device industry?
Tkatchouk: My high school chemistry teacher was amazing and made me believe that I could create any molecule I want if I study and work hard in the lab, so I did. I became very passionate about creating new material/chemical that could one day solve existing problems or make human lives easier. In order to achieve that goal, I needed an engineering degree; therefore, I got my masters in material science and engineering.
Pretty fast, I realized that polymeric materials were taking over the world, so I decided to pursue a PhD in polymeric materials. Biomaterials were the most interesting and challenging to me, and I was determined to create a new hydrogel that would completely restore human skin after any injury. During my postdoc, I consulted couple of medical devices startups, which gave me an opportunity to understand industry’s needs. The medical device industry was creating many innovative technologies, and I wanted to be part of the process, so I never stopped applying for a job in medical industry.
What has been your most rewarding moment/accomplishment as an engineer/scientist in the medical industry?
Tkatchouk: Meeting people who are currently using the device I worked on and seeing how it changed their lives.
What advice would you give to other women looking to work in biomedical engineering and science?
Tkatchouk: Be curious, be patient and persevere. The medical industry is highly regulated, and so there is a lot of responsibility on your shoulders when it comes to designing a medical device. Keep in mind that anything you do might impact someone’s life.
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