Melody Tan is a third year Rice Bioengineering Ph.D. candidate working in the lab of Rebecca Richards-Kortum. She is a graduate intern with Kirstin Matthews at the Baker Institute for Public Policy Center for Health and Biosciences and was most recently selected as a Mirzayan Fellow, taking her all the way to Washington, D.C.
Her thesis research focuses on improving oral cancer diagnosis using optical markers and biomarkers. Melody graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2015 with an M.S.E. in bioengineering innovation and design and graduated from Rice University in 2014 with a B.S. in bioengineering and a minor in global health technologies.
What inspired you to pursue an advanced degree in the bioengineering field?
I've always been passionate about improving access through healthcare for underserved communities—whether that's through advancing biomedical research, developing innovative health technologies, or more recently, influencing politics and policy.
What opportunities has the field given you so far?
I had an amazing opportunity to spend three months in Washington, D.C. at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine as a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow. This experience helped me connect with an incredible science policy network and define next steps towards my goal of working on health policy in Congress.
What has been your favorite class or experience at Rice BIOE and why?
Social Inequality, a sociology class with Dr. Ruth Turley
, really improved my understanding of the causes and consequences of inequality and shaped how I view a lot of current issues. While this class didn't contribute towards BIOE graduation requirements, I highly recommend it to all students interested in expanding their worldview.
What do you like best about studying in Houston?
I've gotten very involved with local political campaigns, grassroots organizations and voter registration initiatives, and have met the most compassionate and driven people in the Houston community through that experience. I love Houston's diversity and am hopeful about the social and political progress being made here.