Where are you from?
I was born in the Bronx, New York, the son of Nigerian immigrant parents. My family moved quite a bit during my childhood and teenage years but New York City has felt like home. The hustle and bustle of the city always made me feel welcome and at ease.
Why did you choose UB?
UB has a very strong biomedical engineering research program. I was attracted to UB for its research, central location to major cities, and growing entrepreneurial environment.
What do you like most about engineering at UB?
I really enjoy the collaborative efforts of different engineering disciplines here at UB. There is an openness and willingness to tackle complex problems by harnessing the expertise of different departments.
Why did you choose to go into engineering?
Engineering for me necessitates a creative mind to solve intricate problems. I have enjoyed the ability to brainstorm solutions, whether in my own research or in combined efforts with other scientists.
What is your favorite place on campus?
Is it bad if I say my lab? On a serious note, I enjoy walking through campus or sitting in an empty classroom where I can think or brainstorm research ideas.
What are you working on now?
Currently, my research is aimed at creating functional 3D liver tissue from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) by mimicking early steps in liver development. I approach this by differentiating these hPSCs into hepatic progenitor cells in a 3D format that can simulate mature liver tissue in function, architecture and growth capacity. The ultimate goal is to utilize these tissues for liver regenerative medicine applications.
What else do you do on campus?
The ability to mentor other students and help them find their curiosity for science has always been one of my goals. I have had the opportunity to mentor undergraduate students over the last two years as a Research Mentor for the Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Summer Research Program. It was a challenging, yet truly rewarding experience to observe my students progress through their individual research endeavors. I highly recommend graduate students to get involved in some form of mentorship. I also recommend the LSAMP Summer Research Program for students interested in gaining research experience.
I have also been fortunate as a graduate student to be part of the growing entrepreneurial scene here in Western New York (WNY). I am currently a Fellow of the Western New York Prosperity Fellowship. I am surrounded by individuals like myself who are super-involved in the WNY region, and eager to contribute to both the economic and social changes occurring right here in our backyard. In addition, I am the co-founder of a seed stage biotech company geared towards creating a cell therapy from the liver tissue research efforts from our lab. For students who have an entrepreneurial interest, I highly recommend the WNY Prosperity Fellowship as a way to get more involved in our community.
What have you done that you are most proud of?
Being able to mentor students has been most rewarding. When I see students become more engaged in research and start to comprehend some of the underlying complexities around it, I feel truly fulfilled.
What are you passionate about?
I am very passionate about human progression. Technologies and/or research that advances human productivity are very intriguing to me. On a personal level, I love to travel and learn about new cultures.
What are your future plans?
I very interested in continuing to get more involved with entrepreneurship through my startup company. In addition, I would also like to eventually pursue an MBA.
What is your advice to prospective engineering students?
Live your life with purpose and have fun with what you do. Everything else will follow!
Ogechi Ogoke is a 2018-2019 Western New York Prosperity Scholar.