Research has always been central to the biomedical engineering community. After seeing so many of her fellow undergraduates struggle with joining a lab, Amy Liu decided to use her limited free time over the summer to create a platform for streamlining and personalizing the process of getting involved in research. It’s a website called PairMe.
A student in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University, Liu first determined whether or not there was a need from the perspective of mentors – graduate students, postdocs, research scientists. So she conducted surveys of graduate students in BME and other schools and departments in the College of Engineering and College of Science.
“I found that mentors are mostly passive when seeking a mentee – most just wait for emails to come in to their principal investigators,” Liu said. “But many would like the option of actively recruiting a student.”
Then she set up meetings with individuals and groups involved in the research process, including BME Chair Susan Margulies, and others from the department, including Essy Behravesh, director of undergraduate studies; Paul Fincannon, academic advising manager; and Brenda Morris, corporate relations manager; and also Allyson Tant from Georgia Tech academic enrichment coordinator, as well as representatives from the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) and the Universities Research Association (URA).
After determining that there was indeed a need in this area, she created a PairMe, a website where mentors can post and manage project openings for undergraduate students.
“In light of Covid-19 making in-person research fairs and such impossible, I hope that this continually updated virtual platform will facilitate communication between groups and bring benefits to all three parties involved: the mentee, the mentor, and the principal investigator,” said Liu, who has partnered with the Coulter Department’s Culture, Diversity and Inclusion office, “to ensure that students of all backgrounds are provided the resources necessary to engage in research. With greater awareness, more options, and broader reach, this platform has the potential to not only improve inclusion at Tech, but also promote GT-Emory connections as well.”
Liu said the idea initially occurred to her in high school, “when I submitted a pitch as part of a startup club to pair undergraduate students with mentors for research. But now, I realized that I have the resources to make this possible!”