February 2022 - BME Blaze: Bobbie Lock

Feb 01 2022

In this monthly spotlight, get to know the alumni, students, and scientists of Columbia's Department of Biomedical Engineering. Read what our BME folks are up to, from our labs' latest research, to our students' plans for the future, to our teams' innovations, start-ups and other career successes.

We loved catching up with Columbia BME PhD candidate and alumna (BS '17, MS '19) Bobbie Lock as she told us about her experience as an undergrad, MS student, and now PhD candidate (all within the Columbia BME program!), as well as her experience as a competitive ballroom dancer. Read below to get to know Bobbie!


Bobbie Lock

  • PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University
  • MS, Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 2019
  • BS, Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 2017


Where are you from?

Gaithersburg, Maryland


What drew you to the field of Biomedical Engineering?

My initial interest in BME began when I was 12 and happened to meet a veteran who had a prosthetic leg. I remember thinking that the artificial limb was the coolest thing I had ever seen, and I decided right then that I wanted to be able to help people and improve their lives by making devices like that prosthesis. Since then, I’ve discovered that BME is a very diverse field, and have shifted from my initial interests in biomechanics over to a focus in tissue engineering, but the underlying motivation remains the same. I’m drawn to BME because it sits at the intersection of engineering and medicine, and aims to improve human health at all levels.  


What is your current role?

I’m currently a PhD candidate at Columbia in the Laboratory of Stem Cells and Tissue Engineering, conducting research under the guidance of Dr. Gordana Vunjak-Novakovic.


Why did you choose Columbia BME?

I’ve now chosen Columbia BME 3 times over- first for undergrad, then for my master’s, and now finally for my doctorate. For undergrad, I chose it because Columbia was one of the only schools that had both a fantastic BME program and a great dance program, and both of those were important to me. Actually, throughout all of undergrad I danced in Columbia’s ballroom dance club, and dancing is still a large part of my life today. For my master’s and doctorate, I remained at Columbia because the research conducted in Gordana’s lab aligned with my specific interests in tissue engineering.  


What have been some of your favorite projects/memories from the Columbia BME program?

My favorite memories from the BME program really aren’t any one particular project or event, but more the collection of memories I have of being together with my fellow BME classmates. In my year there were roughly 50 people who majored in BME, and in junior and senior year, the curriculum is structured in such a way that everyone takes all the same courses. We became a tightly knit group very quickly! I have many fond memories of working, studying, laughing, and just hanging out with everyone during those years. I met many of my best friends through the BME program, and I’m still close with many of them today.  


What was your proudest moment at Columbia?

My proudest moment at Columbia was at graduation, when I realized I had finally, officially made it, and become a biomedical engineer. However, I anticipate that soon my proudest moment will be a successful defense of my thesis work!


How has your experience with Columbia BME contributed towards your goals? 

Without Columbia BME, I wouldn’t be where I am now. It’s really helped me find what I’m passionate about in the biomedical engineering field, giving me the resources and opportunities necessary to explore the many different areas of work within the field, and then pursue what I find most interesting and fulfilling.


Any words of wisdom or tips for prospective BME students?

Take advantage of the opportunities to learn outside of the classroom! Columbia has so much to offer in addition to what you can learn from the classes, from listening to guest lectures, to working in one of the labs. Being a student is incredibly busy and already challenging as is, but take the extra bit of time and effort to gain experiences from outside of the classroom and it will absolutely be worth it.


What are you excited about?

I’m really excited about how tissue engineering technologies are advancing and beginning to be translated to clinical settings. Seeing the work in the field develop to the point where it is directly impacting and improving people’s lives is incredible, and I look forward to seeing what we can do in the future.



I’m drawn to BME because it sits at the intersection of engineering and medicine, and aims to improve human health at all levels.

Bobbie Lock
PhD Candidate & Alumna (BS '17, MS '19), Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University

Images (clockwise):

1. Most of the BME Class of 2017! My experience at Columbia was wonderful because of these folks.
2. Outside of science, I’m a competitive ballroom dancer, which I started doing through Columbia’s ballroom dance club. Here I’m dancing at Columbia’s annual Big Apple Dancesport Competition.
3. Presenting about the tissue engineering field at a local school with lab members.
4. A look into my daily life doing stem cell work! This was filmed as part of a series about different labs and the work we do.