Recent Graduate Reflects on Hands-on Engineering Experiences

College of Engineering labs and clubs provided meaningful connections for biomedical engineering alumna

Blanca Osorio '23 cherished the hands-on activities at the College of Engineering. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she found research opportunities and a community that made her time with the college worthwhile. 

Blanca Osorio sitting on sculpture of an egg head on the UC Davis campus

Over her four years, she worked at both the Panitch and the Simon Labs. These projects were instrumental parts of Osorio's biomedical engineering experience. 

The Panitch Lab, which has since moved to the Georgia Institute of Technology, focused on improving tissue healing and regeneration. While there, Osorio focused primarily on in-vitro experiments to reduce inflammation in cells. The goal of the research was to prevent inflammation in third and fourth-degree burns. 

At the Simon Lab, she primarily worked with mice. Osorio assisted with analyzing fluorescence data of cells at wound-sites. The Simon Lab is primarily focused on researching the immune responses behind inflammation and infection by imaging immune cells, specifically neutrophils.  

It comes as no surprise that Osorio's favorite engineering course was BIM 141 – Cell and Tissue Mechanics. The course combines linear algebra and integrals with biological applications. 

"It combined all of my favorite things. The class content is exactly the reason why I chose this major four years ago," she said. 

When Osorio wasn’t busy with research and classwork, she was at the gym, picnics, and participating in the Chicanx and Latinx Engineering Scientists Society, or CALESS. CALESS was particularly impactful for Osorio because it provided her with connections she can count on.  

"The club is a community who I can relate to educationally, emotionally and socially. It's a great group of people who are so welcoming and turn everything they do into a safe space." 

She was also in the LEADR, or Leadership in Engineering Advancement, Diversity and Retention, program and spent most of her time outside of class, home, the lab or her job as a swim instructor, at the LEADR Student Center studying and working on projects.  

Osorio credits her role as a social mentor for the Redwood SEED, or Supported Education to Elevate Diversity, Scholars Program on campus for bringing her out of her shell. Redwood SEED Scholars are full-time, non-degree students with intellectual disabilities who receive comprehensive support with the goal of employment after four years.  

Osorio says that finding this sense of belonging through clubs like CALESS are what kept her going. The dedication that Osorio has to herself, and the group of women and Latinx engineers that she found through CALESS, have been an integral part of her success. 

"Clubs like CALESS and LEADR made a shy Blanca come out of her comfort zone and want to provide the same comfort and support for others." 

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