Ashley Williams

Washington University
St. Louis, MO

Biomedical Engineering

Principal Investigator: Dr. Richard Boyle
Project: The Effects of Radiation and Microgravity on the Vestibular System

Education and Experience:

Ever since I can remember, I have been in awe of the universe and its mysteries. Yet, until recently, I was unaware how to incorporate my academic interests into a field that has thus far remained a hobby. Last fall, I attended a seminar hosted by Dr. Giovanni Fazio, Senior Physicist at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who lectured on a broad scope of space research. Intrigued by his passion and expertise I approached him with a simple, yet life-changing question: "What advice can you provide a Biomedical Engineering student, like me, who wants to pursue a career in space-related research?" Immediately noticing my passion he quickly introduced me to a professor at Washington University who has guided me along my pursuit.

This fall, I was granted the opportunity to work on NASA's Super-TIGER (Super Trans-Iron Galactic Element Record) project. The project aims to gather information on the origins and properties of galactic cosmic rays via detection from a balloon apparatus that we are currently constructing. I am ecstatic to know that my hand can have a direct impact on the future of space research, and look forward to continuing the trend at Ames.

With my previous experience, I have finally realized how simple it is to combine both of my passions, Biomedical Engineering and Astrophysics, into one: Astrobiology. My goal for this summer is to add to my unique set of knowledge by working on one of Ames's research projects. After graduating from Washington University in St. Louis next year, I plan on pursuing a PhD in an Astrobiology related field so that someday I can live out my dream of contributing to NASA's groundbreaking research.

Extracurricular Activities:

Outside of the classroom and research lab, I serve as the Vice President of Washington University's Engineers Without Borders and Engineering World Health chapters. Through these organizations, I have been able to use the tools I have gained throughout my undergraduate career to improve communities around the world. This past year I started an Equipment Donation Program, which aims to create distribution channels to medical clinics and labs in less fortunate countries. Partnering with W.U.'s medical school, local hospitals donate decommissioned medical equipment to our project that undergraduate students repair alongside professional technicians before the equipment is sent to clinics in developing countries.

Aside from Engineers Without Borders-Engineering World Health, I serve on the Pi Beta Phi Leadership Nomination Committee, was recently initiated into Mortar Board National College Senior Honor Society and was elected as their new Fundraising Chair. Prior to beginning my undergraduate career, I was a competitive figure skater for 12 years. I also enjoy skiing and playing both the piano and violin.