Samantha Paulsen: Bioengineering graduate student finds success in cross-campus partnership

Samantha Paulsen, Ph.D. student

Bioengineer, 3D printing innovator, ultimate frisbee champ

“I originally thought I’d be a doctor,” Samantha Paulsen recalls with a smile, “but I’m squeamish about blood!” Today, she is a Ph.D. student with Rice University’s Department of Bioengineering, which is ranked among the top ten programs in the nation. Samantha has benefitted from the abundance of collaborative partnerships available to her, through which she is making a difference in medicine with new advances in technology.

“Receiving financial support from Rice is a clear sign to graduate students that their work is being noticed and respected — and it facilitates their ongoing research.” — Samantha Paulsen 

The Physiological Systems and Advanced Materials Laboratory, where Samantha works, is making significant advancements that will one day make it possible to grow replacement tissues and organs outside the body, using the patient’s own cells. Such advances are critical at a time when more than 120,000 Americans currently await an organ transplant.

“By using 3D printing technology,” Samantha says, “we can build complex tissues that are unlikely to be rejected by patients’ bodies, resolving the growing need for transplant organs.” But before tissues can be engineered on such an elaborate scale, blood vessel networks that deliver oxygen and nutrients first must be created. “That’s where my research is key,” she adds.

With an abundance of resources, including other laboratories and departments at Rice and the nearby Texas Medical Center, bioengineering graduate students like Samantha have unparalleled opportunities to pursue collaborative, interdisciplinary research. “I’ve even had the chance to work with students from the Jones Graduate School of Business to learn about entrepreneurship,” Samantha says. Collaborations like this make Rice a significant driver in Houston’s role as an up-and-coming center for biotech startups.

Samantha attributes the success of the university’s graduate programs, in part, to financial support from the Rice community. Giving back to Rice is an investment in the future — in collaborative relationships, affirmative experiences for graduate students and game-changing research. To contribute today and support deserving Owls like Samantha, make a gift to the Rice Annual Fund.

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