Meet Alumna Ellenor Brown

How are you connected to OMED?

I've worked at OMED as a CS 1371 tutor on and off since fall 2013. During spring and summer 2016, I assisted Atira in corporate relations for the OMED Challenge Program.


What motivated you to pursue a doctoral degree at Georgia Tech?

Part 1 -- Why I picked Georgia Tech: I had already received my master’s degree in prosthetics and orthotics from Georgia Tech, and decided to stay at Tech afterward. Offering a master's degree for prosthetics and orthotics was unique in itself.  The opportunity to study at a highly regarded institution in a great location was "icing on the cake.”

Part 2 -- Why I pursued a doctoral degree: For my master's, I learned about rehabilitation devices and how to be a clinician. But, ultimately, I realized I wanted to be a researcher. I wanted to learn more about the neuroscience of movement, create new knowledge, and hopefully prepare myself to develop new devices in the future.


How did your interactions with people at Tech and your classes as an undergraduate student help prepare you for graduate school?

Part 1 -- People: I did not go to Georgia Tech for undergrad, and I had very little interaction with people from Tech before I arrived. I cannot say those interactions prepared me for graduate school. But, they were instrumental in getting me through.

Part 2 -- Classes: I studied biomedical engineering in undergrad, but I ended up becoming a neuroscientist in my graduate studies. The transition was tricky. That said, my undergraduate experience with Matlab, circuit design, and basic machine shop training were still tremendously helpful for data analysis and building my experimental setup. I also completed a minor in robotics for my Ph.D., which was where my undergraduate coursework was most helpful. 


What advice would you give to students on succeeding academically at Georgia Tech?

Make friends who can be your study buddies (e.g., your labmates). Don't be afraid to ask for help from TAs, professors, or other students. Choose your course load wisely. Learn when and how you study best (not everyone thrives in study groups).


What advice would you give to students on acclimating socially at Georgia Tech?

I am very shy and introverted, so most of my acclimation took effort. The best actions I took were to show up and say “yes." For example, I got an invite to a Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) mixer. I showed up (mainly to escape my AC-less lodging). Someone asked me to be on the executive board because a position opened unexpectedly. I said yes. The next year, I was BGSA President despite never having served on an executive board in undergrad.


Where have you worked during your Georgia Tech career, and what did you enjoy about that experience?

I've worked at or for OMED since 2013. I enjoyed tutoring the most. I like using code to solve problems. It's always fun to celebrate with students when the code finally works! However, my favorite part of working at OMED (tutoring and Challenge) is meeting new talented students early in their college careers and getting to see them flourish beyond CS 1371. They've made me so proud.


What has been your favorite Georgia Tech experience?

I've met so many wonderful people, and I've grown so much in my interactions with them. My favorite experiences have been celebrating all of our academic and personal accomplishments together. For example, in the midst of one of my lowest points of Ph.D. life, my advisor mentioned that another professor occasionally asked him how I was doing. That professor is the only black professor I've had at Tech. I hadn't spoken to him in some time, nor did I think I stood out to him.  It gave me such an unexpected boost, one that I really needed.


What is next for you after earning your Ph.D. at Georgia Tech? 

I'm moving to D.C. at the end of the summer. That's where my heart is. Hopefully, D.C. is also where my future employment will be!