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When Elon Musk questioned ‘what’s really going to have an important impact on the future of humanity as a whole?’, these are the four areas that came to my mind: genetic engineering, nanoscience, sustainable development, and extraterrestrial exploration. Through a major in Biomedical Engineering and minors in Aerospace Engineering and Sustainable Energy Systems at Cornell, I aspire to have a massive and positive impact on our world.
‘Disease’ can deprive us of the blessings of life: being independent, doing what we love, and pursuing happiness. Holding my grandmother’s hand every time she wanted to go out of the room or trying to understand what she was murmuring was really dismaying, but medicine made it possible for her to strive for a better life. Though healthcare has a vast sphere, what steered me towards biomedical engineering is the considerable magnitude of impact a single advancement can make.
I was introduced to synthetic biology and genetic engineering at the National STEM School, where I investigated gene editing and epigenetics. Inspired by my mentor, I submitted a video in Khan Academy’s Breakthrough Junior Challenge explaining how genetic engineering could stop and possibly reverse aging. The investigation was quite demanding as this was a relatively new concept; however, the unlimited prospects of developing new treatments drew me towards this career. Biomedical engineering research is exactly in line with my aims at the intersection of engineering and medicine. Therefore, I was ecstatic when I secured a placement in the research project at the Centre of Applied Molecular Biology, where I practically performed the experiment that I had only read about in books. I used micropipettes, performed gel electrophoresis and sequenced DNA to investigate the genetics behind asthma in Pakistan’s population. I aspire to find diagnostic tests and curative procedures for such ailments that affect mankind.
Cornell encircles a community of people who share my passion for making the world a better place. Mixing and mingling, on a daily basis, with people from various cultural and intellectual backgrounds will invigorate creativity and ingenuity in me that I would apply to engineer technology. Moreover, I can see myself contributing my unique perspectives to various student groups like Cancer Brainstorming Club. At Cornell, I will explore new vistas in the Cosgrove Laboratory developing systems bioengineering approaches to study the stem cell function and tissue regeneration in aging patients.
With fossil fuel predicted to be completely depleted by 2088 and the world population projected to reach a massive 11.2 billion by 2100, exhaustion of Earth’s natural supplies is an alarming situation. Recently, I measured the ambient air quality of Lahore and its outskirts and found the US AQI to be extremely hazardous at 587. With this data in my mind, I believe that augmenting our settlements to other planets is the ultimate solution to yet another world war on resources. When I volunteered at a school in a nearby village that was virtually cut off from electricity and clean water due to hours of load-shedding, I witnessed the magnitude of Pakistan’s energy and water crisis and pledged to bring a solution. So when my chemistry teacher suggested me to explore nanoscience in my pursuits for a sustainable future my curiosity rose. The prospect of using nanotubes at a larger scale to intrigues me, specifically how carbon nanowires can increase the efficiency of renewable energy sources like solar cells. As I delve deeper into my research, I surmise: to what extent can nanoscience reduce energy loses at a global level?
These are the type of questions that Cornell’s undergraduate research opportunities would allow me to answer. Cornell will equip me with a strong foundation in both STEM and the liberal arts, which will be a melting pot for inspiring innovation. Whether I am developing a new spacecraft design, finding a cure for cancer or supporting conservation of the Amazon, my deepest commitment as a scientist and engineer is to humanity.
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