Ritu Raman

Ritu Raman is an NSF Graduate Research Fellow in the Mechanical Science and Engineering Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She will receive her Ph.D. in December 2016. She received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering magna cum laude from Cornell University in 2012, and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering as an NSF IGERT Fellow at UIUC in 2013. Ritu's research is focused on developing 3D printed bio-hybrid robots to target the next generation of engineering challenges. Her work was awarded the Illinois Innovation Prize in 2015, and has been recognized with several awards centered on research, scholarship, and entrepreneurship. She helped design and implement an undergraduate course inspired by her work, BioE 306: Biofabrication, to promote her goal of teaching the next generation of engineers to "build with biology". 

Having attended more than ten schools on three continents, Ritu has learned to thrive in diverse learning environments and is passionate about promoting education for people from all cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. As a graduate student at Illinois, she has spearheaded many initiatives to promote underrepresented minorities in STEM including leadership positions in the Graduate Society of Women Engineers, Women Empowered in STEM, MechSE Graduate Women, GAMES Engineering Girls Camp, Young Engineers Initiative in Kenya, and the Dean's Engineering Graduate Students Advisory Council. She has also been active in research focused organizations such as the NSF CMMB IGERT and NSF STC EBICS student leadership councils.

Ritu has been involved with several Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) initiatives since the beginning of her academic career at Illinois. Along with other graduate students, she helped lead the NanoSTRuCT outreach program designed to teach local elementary school children about nanotechnology, funded by a University of Illinois Public Engagement Grant. She has also actively participated in the CNST-led efforts at the annual Engineering Open House event at the Micro and Nanotechnology Lab. Ritu has been recognized by poster awards at the annual CNST Nanotechnology Workshops, and has also served as a poster judge in these events. Recently, she helped chair the 14th Annual CNST Nanotechnology Workshop session on entrepreneurship and innovation. According to Ritu,"This community has been an invaluable support network for me at Illinois and I'm extremely grateful for the research and outreach opportunities CNST has provided."

In the future, Ritu hopes to start her own lab at a university, focused on understanding the design rules and principles of building with biological materials. She is also an aspiring writer and entrepreneur, and is passionate about empowering the next generation of inventors to tackle the engineering grand challenges we face as a society.