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Graduate Student Profile
Rebecca Wachs

Rebecca Wachs

Hometown: Guilderland, NY
Degree Sought: Ph.D.
Department: Biomedical Engineering
Faculty Advisor: Dr. Eric Ledet
Year of graduation: 2012

Background and Accomplishments:

  • Lemelson-Rensselaer 2013 Student Prize Finalist
  • Provisional patent for wireless sensor designed as part of doctoral research, 2012
  • Podium Presentation ORS and Poster Presentations at BMES and NASS, 2010-Present
  • Industry Seminar Coordinator, Biomedical Engineering Department RPI, 2011-Present
  • Math and Science Tutor, Big Mind Learning, 2010-2011
  • Teaching Assistant, RPI, 2009-2011
  • Advanced Imaging Microscopy Specialist, Carl Zeiss Microimaging, 2006-2009
  • Masters of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering at RPI, 2005


  • Recipient Rensselaer Founders Award of Excellence, Fall 2011
  • Recipient of the American Association of University Women American Dissertation Fellowship, 2011-2012
  • Meister for Carl Zeiss Microimaging , Inc., #1 in Nationwide Sales Performance, 2007
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, Honorable Mention, 2003

Why did you choose to enroll at Rensselaer?

  • The interesting research project I would be pursuing
  • My future advisor and mentor
  • The ability to work in close collaboration with orthopaedic surgeons

What are some benefits of being part of the Graduate Community at Rensselaer?

  • Novel and exciting research opportunities
  • Ability to work with experts in the field at both RPI and Albany Medical College
  • Ability to directly mentor undergraduates as part of my research team
  • Close knit BMED graduate student community
  • Very supportive administration and staff

What would you tell a prospective student about choosing Rensselaer?
There are many unique research opportunities at RPI as well as terrific faculty members and facilities to enable you to pursue your research.  There are also many opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration during your graduate career.

Describe your graduate research and its purpose/applications?
Low back pain is an epidemic that affects the majority of the population at some point in their lives and is most commonly caused by disc degeneration.  Epidemiologic data demonstrate that mechanical overload correlates with disc degeneration.  The purpose of my research is to test the hypothesis that loss of muscle function (often caused by fatigue or injury) leads to increased loading across the intervertebral disc.  In order to meet this purpose I am designing and fabricating a novel wireless sensor to be incorporated into a multi-axial force sensing spine implant.  The results of this research will lead to better understanding of the role muscle injury and fatigue play in increasing loads in the spine and contributing to disc degeneration. 

What are your plans following graduation?
I would like to get a job with an orthopaedic company as a Research and Development Engineer designing the next generation of spinal implants and interventions.

Professional affiliations:
Member Orthopaedic Research Society
Member Biomedical Engineering Society

What are your hobbies/interests/special talents?

  • Coach AAU Girl’s Basketball for the Albany Capitals, 2004-Present
  • Take walks and hikes with my husband and dog
  • Play soccer and take spinning classes
  • Lead a book club


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