female student in lab
Yael Branscom

Before she heads to Northwestern Medical School, bioengineering student Katherine Bolten recalled a conversation she had with a Temple chemistry professor.

"If you truly want to help people, don't be a doctor. Be a doctor that does more," the professor told her. Looking back at her Temple Engineering career, Katherine has already begun to fuse her engineering education with medicine to start on that path.

In 2016, Bolten spent time in Nicaragua as part of a student health fellowship. After learning that only one-third of women in the area breastfed their children, she started a lactation consulting program at the local clinic.

"These women were genuinely concerned with the health of their children and were so willing to learn from what we had to say," Bolten remembered. "It inspired me to consider what a difference doctors might be able to make in the United States with a stronger emphasis on helping a patient better understand their condition."

Bolten kept that experience in mind when she returned to campus, volunteering at the Esperanza Health Center in North Philadelphia. She also served as National Community Service Co-Chair for the Temple Student National Medical Association and spent time as a summer researcher at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine, where she worked on modeling the interface between bone and skin for amputees as part of a project commissioned by the Navy.

"With prosthetic devices, where the bone, skin and the device meet, there is sometimes too much pressure and can cause ossification, which is very painful," she said. "We worked on bio-printing a cap out of porous titanium that would fuse into the bone and act as a sort of buffer."

Another source of inspiration for Bolten is the strong thread of female engineers and educators in her life. Her mother is a chemical engineer, and Bolten serves as Treasurer for the Temple Society of Women Engineers. She has also spent significant time in Dr. Nancy Pleshko's Tissue Imaging and Spectroscopy Lab, and worked under graduate student Jessica Falcon as undergraduate lab support.

"There's this dynamic of competition among women sometimes where we feel this instinct to prove ourselves," she said. "I've learned to seek out female peers and have a different kind of support network, to do more together."

Katherine Bolten will join her fellow graduating seniors at Temple Engineering commencement on May 9.