Christine Schindler: Improving Women's Health Worldwide

NAE Grand Challenge Scholar Profile

  • Major: Biomedical Engineering
  • Sub-Plan: Global Health
  • Grand Challenge: Engineering Better Medicines
  • GC Advisor: Professor Nimmi Ramanujam
  • Project Title: Illuminating the Grand Challenge of Engineering Better Medicines: An Interdisciplinary, Global, Service, Entrepreneurship, and Research Approach

By Christine Schindler

As a Grand Challenge Scholar, my aim is to address the health disparities that exist for women on a global level by combining my passions and independent studies in global health and biomedical engineering as well as the research I have accomplished regarding women’s health. As a Duke University Pratt School of Engineering Fellow, I completed research on a breast cancer detection device using imaging and light technology. This device can be used on breast tissue to determine if there is cancerous tumor tissue present by reflecting light off of the flesh.

Being a Grand Challenge Scholar has opened my eyes to the way that engineers can truly make a tangible impact in the world every single day.

My research occurred in the lab setting, working on the development of this device from a hardware and software perspective, as well as in the Duke University Hospital Ambulatory Surgery Unit, where I was collecting clinical data for the device. I was able to research and develop this device as a method for improving women’s health both locally and globally. And as a Global Women’s Health Technology Center Fellow, I researched and created individual project modules and instructions relating to health that could be distributed to women globally.

Throughout my time at Duke, it has been an incredible experience to uphold the mission of a Grand Challenge Scholar through each of the pillars of the Grand Challenge Scholars program. I have been able to reach each of these pillars through interdisciplinary education as a biomedical engineering major with a minor in global health, my service involvement through the Boeing Fellows program working in Durham public schools, my entrepreneurship experiences of starting a non­profit organization to encourage females to enter STEM fields, and my global experiences working as a biomedical engineering technician in Tanzania and attending global conferences hosted by the Clinton Global Initiative.

The culmination of these experiences, in conjunction with my research opportunities, has provided me a broad and well-rounded college experience, which will provide me with the training, education, awareness, and ability to confidently identify and pursue solutions to the National Academy of Engineering “Grand Challenges of Engineering” throughout my life, and I look forward to continuing to use these skills in all of my future endeavors as an engineer. Being a Grand Challenge Scholar has opened my eyes to the way that engineers can truly make a tangible impact in the world every single day.