A bioengineering major was perfect for me.

Fischell Department of Bioengineering (BIOE) junior Anjola Akintoba always knew she wanted to study bioengineering. “I have always wanted to do something related to healthcare. I loved learning about how the body works and how different things affect it,” she said. “I also love to build and create things, so a bioengineering major was perfect for me.” 

Throughout high school, Akintoba was part of a four-year engineering program called the Learning Engineering and Design (LEAD) Program. This program exposed her to many different aspects of engineering, from electronics to robotics and even 3D printing. Her LEAD courses solidified her decision to major in engineering because she loved the hands-on experience she was getting each day. The University of Maryland stood out to her because of its excellence in engineering and its emphasis on student research and innovation. 

As an undergraduate, conducting research is something that Akintoba is very passionate about because she wants to apply what she learns in the classroom in a meaningful way. Akintoba is a part of the four-year research program called the Gemstone Honors Program. This program provides an opportunity for student-led research in a group setting and promotes leadership among students.

Her team, led by their Principal Investigator, Ryan Sochol (ME), is researching techniques to use additive manufacturing to develop a biodegradable pill that will control the release of HIV drug cocktails. This past semester, the lab worked with a biodegradable material and ran several tests to determine the degradation rate of the material. 

As the financial liaison for her team, Akintoba is responsible for tracking team spending and looking for funding opportunities. She and her team presented their preliminary research results at the Do-Good Showcase and will be defending their thesis at the Thesis Conference in their senior year. “Gemstone has truly given me the tools I need to effectively conduct research in a team environment and communicate my research and results to others,” she said. “The skills that I have learned in Gemstone will be valuable to me throughout my entire academic and professional career.”

After graduation, Akintoba plans to complete a graduate program in biomedical engineering, focusing specifically on drug delivery or bioinformatics. “I would like to use bioinformatic techniques to analyze genomes to detect different diseases such as cancer and Alzheimer’s,” she said.  “I have been fascinated by the characterization of many diseases, and I want to be able to target and even prevent these diseases.”

Outside of academics, Akintoba loves to travel and play soccer. She is a part of the Engineers Without Borders Club on campus and enjoys it due to the opportunity to travel and apply what she has learned as an engineer to help those in need. This past winter, Akintoba was able to travel with five other UMD students to Dindefelo, Senegal. 

There, the group built a pergola that will house solar panels. Their project focuses on increasing access to consistent electricity and water for a health clinic in the town.