Ruby Washington is poised to make her mark in bioengineering

Data show that healthcare disparities plague the Black community in America, making it harder to receive adequate treatment and care. But rather than just accepting the status quo, Ruby Washington, senior in the Department of Bioengineering, is dedicated to leveraging her interest in biomedicine to change outcomes and systems.

Ruby Washington holds a bioengineered cast in the shape of a human leg.

“I feel that I have a duty to help my community and make the healthcare system better for people who look like me,” she says.

That’s a challenge well suited to a woman who is both fascinated by the intersection of materials science and biology and dedicated to representing and leading a community of Black engineers.

Washington was inspired to pursue engineering by her older brother, who is a biomedical engineer. She has found Penn Engineering to be the perfect place to meld her love for math and science with her passion for making a difference. “I knew I would be challenged to think critically about my work as well as truly develop my skills at Penn Engineering,” she says. “I also wanted to be a part of a diverse student body and be able to interact with students from across the globe.”

As a hands-on learner, participating in research as an undergraduate was a plus for Washington. During the summer after her sophomore year, she was part of the National Science Foundation’s Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation undergraduate research program, facilitated by the Penn Engineering Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. “I worked alongside a post doc student in a lab headed by Shu Yang, a professor in materials science and engineering, to fabricate microporous elastomers for smart window technologies that have medical device applications,” she explains.

This story is by Amy Biemiller. Read more at Penn Engineering Today.