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Inspired Aspirations
Rensselaer alumni and students are known globally for their ingenuity and capacity to tackle pressing international challenges. This innovative spirit permeates the Rensselaer campus, buildings, and laboratories. The newly graduated Class of 2009 is a rich example of a group of students who took the Institute motto to heart and invested their time and energy into changing the world for the better.

When addressing the graduates in May at Rensselaer’s 203rd Commencement celebration, President Shirley Ann Jackson charged the students to stride boldly into their future, even in the face of global turbulence and an imperfect job market.

“A Rensselaer graduate should never be afraid, because it is well understood that this university enrolls the best of the best, and that it takes a great deal of intellectual vigor and hard work to succeed here,” she said. “A little bit of well-placed struggle is all it takes to draw out extraordinary courage, discipline, and resourcefulness in talented people.”

The Class of 2009 has already ventured forth into their new roles and responsibilities in industry, the private sector, military, academia, and other endeavors in which they can put their Rensselaer education to good use. Here are a few of their stories.

Creating Young Scientists

Amanda Waite Lund has grown as a scholar as the Rensselaer Center for Biotechnology and Interdisciplinary Studies (CBIS) has grown as a new research platform at Rensselaer.

Lund, who is the first student to graduate with a doctoral degree through the School of Science Accelerated B.S./Ph.D. Program, joined Rensselaer in 2002—just two years before CBIS was opened. During her time at the Institute, Lund has earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master’s degree in management, and now her doctorate in biology.

Truly a student of Rensselaer, Lund has grown with CBIS, developing a strong interdisciplinary background with intense scientific laboratory experience while maintaining close connections with engineers to develop complementary technology and with management professors to learn how to translate that technology to the marketplace.

“I was raised as a scientist here,” Lund says. “I have seen the transition that RPI has made since CBIS came online, including the fantastic transformation of the biology department. It really helped that all the different departments worked so well together. That allowed me to complete all these programs and work in so many different areas.”

Lund’s experience as an undergraduate introduced her to the lab where she began working with Associate Professor of Biology George Plopper on the study of adult stem cells. In particular, she was looking at ways to induce the undifferentiated cells to mature into bone cells.

Some of her discoveries in the Plopper lab led to connections with Rensselaer’s Department of Biomedical Engineering. She worked to develop technologies that could encapsulate stem cells to control and protect them so that they could be injected at the site of an injury and promote new bone formation.

“I was able to use the biology side to understand and promote the growth and differentiation of the stem cells, and the engineering side to develop the technology that would make them useful in clinical applications,” Lund says.

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree, Lund wasn’t sure what direction she would want to take following completion of her doctorate in biology. She decided to earn a master’s degree in management from the Lally School of Management & Technology.

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Rensselaer (ISSN 0898-1442) is published in Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter by the Office of Strategic Communications and External Relations, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY 12180-3590. Opinions expressed in these pages do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or the policies of the Institute. ©2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.