Nina Tandon, PhD '09 BME

When Nina Tandon was three years old, her father taught her how to pronounce orthopedic surgeon for the amusement of dinner guests.

Fortunately for her and SEAS, Nina grew up to become an engineer instead. She successfully defended her thesis this month to earn her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Cardiac Tissue Engineering.

Nina, 29, says the idea of becoming an engineer was a gradual process.

“When I was more capable of independent thought, I would experience extreme indecision, and rapidly fire off, first writer, no reporter, no lawyer, no diplomat, no fashion designer,” she says.

Nina Tandon

Age: 29

Hometown: Roosevelt Island

Undergraduate degree: Bachelor's in Electrical Engineering, The Cooper Union, New York City

Graduate degree: MS Biomedical Engineering, MIT, Boston, Mass.

Favorite Band: Bjork

Favorite Movie: Run Lola Run

Favorite spot in NYC: Along the Long Island City waterfront

Hobbies: Yoga, cooking, running, making jewelry

“But the fact was I was taking apart TVs and building these giant Tinkertoy towers, playing with static electricity, and experimenting on my class for science fairs – I guess I didn't realize without a little push from my elders that an adventure in scientific research could allow for a career that has room for being inquisitive, but also a writer, builder and reporter all in one...maybe not a fashion designer though.”

Nina racked up a full resume between Tinkertoys and her Ph.D.

Growing up on Roosevelt Island between Manhattan and Queens, Nina developed interests in metalsmithing, making jewelry and yoga. She’s also run two marathons. She earned her undergraduate degree at The Cooper Union and earned an MS in Biomedical Engineering at MIT. Although she started her graduate work at the Boston school in 2006, she followed her mentor, Professor Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic, after she came to SEAS the year before.

Nina’s skills also translated well when she worked for a time at a telecommunications company. Although she was hired to do development work behind the scenes, she wound up doing some customer service. She proposed a new user interface that led the company to file some patents she co-authored.

These kinds of diverse experiences have helped build confidence, she says.

“I feel really empowered these days as it comes time to take next steps. The world is crazy but I feel adaptable.”

Posted: May 20, 2009

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