Bioengineering Graduate Student Pursuing Desire for Teaching and Research

May 5, 2021

By Holly Hinson
Anna Goestenkors

Anna Goestenkors

When Bioengineering graduate student Anna Goestenkors was in high school, she played piano and French horn, and her initial aspiration was to study music education. But when she decided to keep music as a hobby, she looked to other passions for inspiration.

“I really enjoyed calculus and anatomy and physiology, and looked into what careers could bring my love of math and science together, “she said. “I found bioengineering, and there were just so many ways to use it: you could go into industry and do medical device design or work at a hospital and troubleshoot problems with MRI or CT machines, or go into research. I felt like the sky was the limit.”

Goestenkors, who grew up in a small town in Illinois, said she was attracted to the size and spirit of Speed School for her bioengineering program.

“It looked like a school with great school pride, and when I saw they had a co-o program, I decided to take a closer look,” she said. “When I came, I met with Thomas Brammer and Jonathan Hughes from Admissions, and from the moment I stepped into their office, I felt like they were invested in my success even though I hadn’t applied to the school yet.” She said the co-o program, which gave her the opportunity to graduate in four years with a full year of work experience, was also a deciding factor.

At Speed School, Goestenkors became involved in the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and helped with Leadership Advantage, a camp for incoming freshman engineering majors.

“It was fantastic in terms of professional development,” she said. “I became a better student after I got more involved as an undergrad because it helped me make those connections and find people when I needed help.”

Professors and counselors that became mentors were instrumental to Goestenkors’ achievements as well as setting goals, she said.

“Once I knew that I wanted to do research – and that I could do that and teach – for me it was a no-brainer that I wanted to go on and get my PhD.” Goestenkors said being a teaching assistant for Dr. Patricia Soucy, Associate Professor, Bioengineering, had a big influence on her ambitions. “As a TA, she let me help her with study guides and making parts of the tests,” she said. “The teachers are all great. They love teaching you and they’re here to help you. What more could you ask for?”

Soucy said Goestenkors, who is defending her dissertation on May 28, is destined for success wherever she goes.

“Anna is a highly intelligent student with exceptional work ethic and maturity. I think she will become an excellent role model and mentor for future bioengineering students, especially female students.”

On the research side, her Master’s thesis advisor, Assistant Professor Tommy Roussel said Anna is dedicated unlike any other Master’s student he’s worked with. “She’s definitely organized and determined to succeed, and not shaken at all when something she tries for her research doesn’t work out. She is creative and asks great questions, which are also key personality traits that researchers need.”

Recently, Goestenkors wrote a letter to one of the first people she met at Speed School, Thomas Brammer, to share the good news that she accepted a “dream offer” with the PhD program at Washington University in St. Louis that includes an additional scholarship to advance her career goals of becoming an educator.

“I truly want you to know that none of it would have been possible without all of your help. You helped me find my path and made sure I stuck with it even when things were tough and encouraged me to get involved to gain those different experiences and friends. Mentors like you inspire me to become an educator that truly cares and invests in my students. It’s the reason that when I think about teaching, I imagine myself teaching at UofL giving back to the program that gave so much to me.”