#BEHuman (Bioengineering Human) is a series that profiles the academics, researchers and students that make up the Department of Bioengineering at Imperial College. Our aim is to give you an insight into the ground-breaking work that takes place in the UK’s leading bioengineering department through the eyes of the fantastic bioengineers that are advancing research frontiers, solving life sciences-related problems and creating future leaders.
As it was International Women in Engineering Day on the 23rd June, our focus has been on celebrating the achievements of our outstanding female bioengineers.
Today’s BEhuman is Dr Claire Higgins, a lecturer who has been a part of the department since 2014. Dr Higgins’s research group aim to understand mechanisms of tissue development and regeneration, both in normal conditions and in response to disease or injury. In her spare time, Dr Higgins enjoys pottery.
How did you become a Bioengineer?
I am a biologist by training, however, I like the top down approach that engineers use in research as it increases the possibility of having translational impact. I applied for a faculty position in the Department of Bioengineering as it meant I would have to step outside of my comfort zone, and I thought this challenge would result in me doing more innovative research.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
Becoming a probationed academic in the Department of Bioengineering
What is your proudest personal achievement?
Being happily married to a very supportive husband since 2008.
How has being a woman shaped, influenced and impacted your career?
I don’t know if it has. I feel I have been treated and given opportunities in line with my male peers. While I am positive it is different at other universities, I feel that in the Department of Bioengineering, hard work and a love of science will enable success, regardless of gender.
How has being a part of the Department of Bioengineering shaped your career?
When I arrived in Bioengineering I started talking with clinicians and trying to apply a top-down approach for clinical problems, rather than the bottom up approach, which biologists tend to use. This meant I started approaching the same research questions from a different angle, which I think has given me an edge over others in my field.
What piece of advice would you give a 17-year-old girl that is thinking about studying Bioengineering?
First and foremost study something that you enjoy. Secondly, choose something which will stimulate and challenge you. It is more rewarding to achieve something after working hard for it