Born in New Delhi, India, Bhavya Vats immigrated to Iowa about nine years ago with her family. She recently received a BSE in biomedical engineering (BME) from the University of Iowa, and was a recipient of the Academic & Scholarly Achievement Award at the 2023 International Student Graduation Celebration.
Throughout her college years, she demonstrated a keen interest in research, working in three different labs. Her most prominent role was with the Ankrum Lab where she had a publication in the Environmental Science & Technology Journal for her work on the toxicity of environmental toxins on adipose tissue. Vats will continue to explore her interests and make contributions to science through her admission as a PhD student in BME at the University of Michigan.
Learn more about Vats through the Q&A piece below.
What made you decide to pursue your studies at Iowa, and why did you choose your field of study?
I chose to become a Hawkeye after touring the campus and falling in love with downtown Iowa City. I was also excited about Iowa's reputation as a productive research institution and a huge medical campus. When I came to the university, I immediately joined a research lab, which made me excited to pursue my field of study in BME: I liked that BME bridges a critical gap between novel medical solutions and patient care. In essence, it helps doctors help patients!
How did you connect and interact with your professors and mentors?
I made it a priority to attend office hours for most of my courses to get to know my professors and teaching assistants. By doing so, I learned about their research and talked about course-related questions. I met with my research mentors during lab meetings and 1:1 check-ins. My biggest advice for fostering good professional relationships is to know what you want out of it and to not be afraid of sending lots of emails!
What advice would you give to other international students at Iowa?
Attend lots of campus events hosted by organizations such as Life in Iowa, Campus Activities Board (CAB), Office of Multicultural & International Student Support & Engagement (MISSE), Organization for the Active Support of International Students (OASIS), and South Asian Student Alliance (SASA), etc. These will help you 1) make new friends and 2) find new things to do.
What do you wish you had done differently at Iowa?
I wish I had taken more art classes during my time at Iowa. I realized I loved painting during my last semester and regretted not trying to take more fun classes in the previous semesters. I absolutely loved making art, but more than that I loved my professor and the judgement-free environment to showcase our work.
What are your aspirations and goals, both personally and professionally?
Personally, my goals are to focus on my physical health with consistent weekly workouts and read more books this summer. Professionally, my long-term goal is to become a research and development scientist (after getting a PhD in BME) to design medical solutions that are affordable and accessible to all patient populations. I have not yet decided whether to stay in academia or pursue an industry job, and I am keeping an open mind!
International Programs (IP) at the University of Iowa (UI) is committed to enriching the global experience of UI students, faculty, staff, and the general public by leading efforts to promote internationally oriented teaching, research, creative work, and community engagement. IP provides support for international students and scholars, administers scholarships and assistance for students who study, intern, or do research abroad, and provides funding opportunities and grant-writing assistance for faculty engaged in international research. IP shares their stories through various media, and by hosting multiple public engagement activities each year.