Eric Lehnhardt

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Biological Engineering

PhD Student, 1st Year

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Hometown

Tucson, AZ

Undergraduate institution

Arizona State University

What sparked your interest in your current field, and what do you love about it?

My love of biology stems for the desire to understand what makes our bodies and our environment perform, and my love of engineering germinated with the desire to create solutions to the problems that we face when our bodies or our environment degrade. For me, biological engineering is about attempting to understand and manipulate creation’s most complex systems: because their complexity is astounding, and because if we can manipulate them, we can improve each other’s lives.

Personal research summary

In industry, I researched the interface between a blood-contacting biomaterial and its implant environment, and asked what properties were important for a beneficial device and how we could effectively create, measure, and control those properties. At Arizona State University, I investigated cellular flow models of the diabetic disease state, to try and understand how changes in the chemical environment of the blood — high glucose and high cholesterol — affected the migratory and proliferative behaviors of the endothelial cells that contact blood and influence so much of our vascular health. When I interned at MIT, I studied the mechanical (viscoelastic) properties of cells as individuals were stretched and deformed, and attempted to explain the mechanisms that led to their recovery of their initial shape and strength.

Personal interests

I love to go hiking and backpacking, play strategy board games, and make music with my family.