College:College of Engineering and Computer Science
Degree Program:Biomedical Engineering MSBME
Research Focus:Robotics, mechanics and biology.
Lietsel Richardson describes herself as a person made up of many intersections: an international student and a queer woman of color, who is pursuing a STEM degree. It’s a theme that has continued into her studies – Richardson, a graduate student earning her master’s in Biomedical Engineering, is involved in research that is interdisciplinary in nature. Her research consists of a blend of robotics, mechanics, and biology, and, for her thesis, she is developing a bio-inspired circular robot actuated by shape-memory alloy springs.
Richardson, who graduated from UCF in 2016 with a bachelor’s in mechanical engineering, was inspired to continue her studies at UCF in by her experience as the Vice President of the Biomedical Engineering Society in its first semester on campus. She urges her fellow students to find ways to get involved in their community, in order to learn new things and leave a positive impact. Richardson does this by volunteering at the Florida Hospital each weekend, attending community and art events, and donating to homeless shelters. She also talks to middle schoolers about STEM and the importance of empowering girls to pursue careers in STEM.
As far as advice more strictly for the academic world, Richardson recommends that her fellow students build relationships with professors, as mentors are invaluable for graduate students. As for her own professors, Richardson has praise for many of them, including Dr. Kassab, who introduced her to the world of biomedical engineering, Dr. Pal, who has consistently given her advice and encouragement, and Dr. Huang, who has challenged her when it comes to biomechanics experiments, bioinstrumentation, and research.
Richardson also encourages students to recognize the intersections that make up their own lives:
“You, and all of your intersections, make you a unique individual and student here at UCF. Your uniqueness is what makes you valuable, so always remember that you have a lot to bring to the table. And, while you’re at UCF, you can always find the support you need to blaze your own trail in your field of study (and in life, too).”
After graduating this spring, Richardson plans to pursue a doctoral degree and either remain in academia or work in clinical research.