September 2022 - BME Blaze: Fatema Lodgher

Sep 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 M.S. alumna ('21) and current Ph.D. candidate Fatema Lodgher as she told us about her experience at Columbia BME and her exciting plans to change the world.⁣ Read below to get to know Fatema!


Fatema Lodgher


  • B.S. Biomedical Engineering, University of Houston, 2016
  • M.S. Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, 2021
  • Ph.D. Biomedical Engineering, Columbia University, (in progress – fingers crossed!)


Where are you from?

That’s flummoxing; I was born in West Virginia, grew up in Houston, and moved to New York from San Antonio. So, I’m a West Virginian, Texan, Houstonian, and now, a New Yorker.


What drew you to the field of Biomedical Engineering?

One of my biggest influences was my dad. Growing up, my dad was a big do-er, as in come the weekend, he’d always be working on some sort of project. I, unfailingly, was his faithful assistant. Those weekends making things with him were some of the best of childhood. It’s really no wonder I became an engineer!

I chose Biomedical Engineering because the human body is fascinating. Humans have had human bodies for as long as humanity has been around, and we are only just starting to meaningfully unravel its secrets and figure out what makes the body work.

Plus, in what other field would I be able to help so many people at once, the ones today and the ones to come? The things we make and things we discover (with the tools that we made) contribute to new scientific discoveries and help make yesterday’s dream therapies into tomorrow’s patient realities.


What is your current role?

I am working on a Ph.D. under the mentorship of Dr. Hillman in the Laboratory for Functional Optical Imaging. My work in the lab involves studying neural activity and blood flow on the mouse cortex to better understand brain states and movement.


Why did you choose Columbia BME?

I came into my Master’s degree as a pathway to an industry job. With that in mind, I chose Columbia because I would be academically challenged, be able to establish an incredible professional network, and be fairly close and well connected to multiple BME job markets. And, it fulfilled a life-long dream of living in New York City!

As part of my course load, I did research for a semester in the Hillman Lab. I enjoyed the research and felt like this lab was somewhere I could grow.  So, I came back, and Dr. Hillman was nice enough to take me back.


What were some of your favorite projects/memories from the program?

Easily, they are almost all of hanging out with the friends I’ve made in and out of the lab! I have gotten to meet so many wonderful people and made lifelong friends.


What was your proudest moment at Columbia?

Graduating- I finished my Master’s degree during the pandemic. So, definitely graduating. And, I look forward to graduating again (fingers crossed!)


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

In terms of professional career moves, only time will tell. But, in terms of my human goals, I’ve taken much of what I’ve learned in graduate school (like questioning basic assumptions) and applied them to other facets of my life. I’ve noticed a decrease in the problems I’ve made for myself. It's been nice.

I think another thing I am slowly learning (or possibly relearning, I’m not sure) from the people around me is the ability to take small risks and just go for it. That’s the really wonderful thing about Columbia BME and New York City– as long as you’re being responsible, no one really cares what you do. There is a profound amount of freedom in that.


Any words of wisdom or tips for prospective BME students?

Self-care is super important. Remember to sleep well, eat properly, drink water, and have fun.


What are you excited about?

In general? Ice cream, llamas, plants, and brains.

The things we make and things we discover (with the tools that we made) contribute to new scientific discoveries and help make yesterday’s dream therapies into tomorrow’s patient realities.

Fatema Lodgher
M.S. Alumna and Current Ph.D. Student in the Hillman Lab, Zuckerman Institute, Biomedical Engineering Department, Columbia University


  • The Larger Version of the Headshot: Professional photo through portrait sessions set up through EGSC. Definitely, something to take full advantage of!
  • The One in Jackets: The Hillman Lab celebrating Lantern Festival on the roof of the Zuckerman Institute
  • The One with the Graduates: My friends and I as we graduated with our MS degrees from the BME department!