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Jenny Patel Carries Vol Spirit into Biomedical Career

photo of Jenny Patel in pink shirt, black jacket and glassesBy Randall Brown.

 Anyone who encountered Jenny Patel while she was working on her PhD would have likely found her in the middle of an operation—a simulated one, at least. She spent a lot of time looking after MABEline, the department’s synthetic cadaver.

“Working with MABEline first introduced me to the field of biomedical engineering,” she said of her time with the ultrarealistic training tool. “I was able to further my curiosity and strengthen my skills as a biomedical engineer by working in the Engineered Designs for Biomedicine lab with Assistant Professor Elizabeth Barker.”

Patel graduated with her PhD in May with a mission to engineer future medical innovations, promote STEM education, and empower future engineers. She now works as a senior engineer in the Technology Leadership Development Program at Becton Dickinson, which is one of the top five medical technology companies in the world and makes more than 40 billion devices annually. Typically, fewer than five associates are selected for the program from around 200 applicants.

“I am excited to be part of the TLDP team,” she said. “I help lead challenging and meaningful assignments in addressing some of the world’s most compelling health problems.”

She keeps the pulse of the biomedical world while also maintaining a variety of personal projects—not the least of which was getting married earlier this year. After defending her thesis, she focused her final semester on dissertation submission, the TLDP application process, traveling, wedding planning, and working on STEMwithJen, her online science communication brand.

“My PhD experience trained me to be very resilient and persevering and taught me to have a work–life balance, which has greatly benefited me,” she said. “I aim to balance a busy schedule and work prioritizing career and personal life.”

Advocacy through STEMwithJen continues a passion that began when she joined the Society of Women Engineers as an undergraduate. SWE strengthened her leadership skills and sparked lifelong friendships.

“I met with Masood Parang, former associate dean of academic and student affairs, early on in my undergraduate studies, where we first discussed ideas to improve recruiting and retaining women in engineering,” said Patel. Soon after, she and colleagues initiated the SWEeties mentoring program, promoting career and academic support for precollege women.

“The SWEeties program today has now grown to include over 150 participants, with nearly 100 incoming engineering students being paired with upperclassmen mentors and been recognized internationally and at the university multiple times,” she said.

While still an undergraduate, Patel was on the team that initially developed the WomEngineer’s Day event. As a graduate student, she led tours of the MABEline Lab, co-founded the Early Career Mentoring Program to help graduate STEM women, and personally mentored undergraduate research assistants. She recently was among the speakers at the groundbreaking of the Zeanah Engineering Complex.

In short, she fully embraces the Engineering Vol life.

“I absolutely love the Volunteer spirit and believe that was a strong factor in influencing me to do both my undergraduate and graduate studies at UT,” said Patel. “Seeing my students grow over the years—taking the lead and launching powerful careers—has been the most rewarding accomplishment. Being surrounded by the Volunteer spirit enlightens me to continue helping our community succeed.”