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Path of fellowships leads recent alum to Germany

Garrow stands in front of a balcony with brightly lit windows.

Carly Garrow will be working in the lab of Felix Nickel of Universität Heidelberg, whose research specializes in laparoscopic surgery, a type of surgery that uses fiberoptic instruments to examine organs and other internal parts of a patient. She previously worked in Nickel’s lab during a study abroad trip before her junior year as part of the Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program sponsored by DAAD. Photo by Ryan Owens.

A chain reaction of events led recent MU College of Engineering graduate Carly Garrow to Heidelberg, Germany for a 10-month project as part of the highly-regarded Whitaker International Program.

The program sends American bioengineering students and recent graduates abroad to work on a self-designed project with the goal of accelerating their development into leaders in the field. Garrow was accepted for the Whitaker International Program, as well as German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and Fulbright fellowships, settling on Whitaker based on its level of support.

Once the program begins in October, Garrow will be working in the lab of Felix Nickel of Universität Heidelberg, whose research specializes in laparoscopic surgery, a type of surgery that uses fiberoptic instruments to examine organs and other internal parts of a patient. She previously worked in Nickel’s lab during a study abroad trip before her junior year as part of the Research Internships in Science and Engineering (RISE) program sponsored by DAAD.

“I’m going to be going back to basically do a continuation of that research,” Garrow said.

Garrow’s path to this point began to materialize back in her sophomore year of high school. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) playing soccer, and the rehab process exposed her to new interests.

“That kind of introduced me to bioengineering, physical therapy and the medical area around that, and I thought that was very intriguing,” she said. “I kind of taught myself all about the anatomy. And my junior year of high school, I joined the robotics team, and that got me interested in engineering.”

The confluence of events in high school sparked her interest in biomedical engineering, leading Garrow to participate in undergraduate research as part of the Discovery Fellows program, an Honors College program that starts freshmen on the research path. She spent two years in the lab of Bioengineering Assistant Professor Ferris Pfeiffer, then two years with Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Professor Satish Nair.

“It shows that Mizzou has given me a lot of advantages and helped prepare me for this because I can kind of look back and say I think I got the RISE fellowship because I did Discovery Fellows,” Garrow said. “And I think it helped me that I already worked in (Nickel’s) research group, and it’s a continuation of what I’ve already done (through the RISE fellowship).

“One thing after another has helped me get the three fellowships.”

It’s a path Garrow may not have thought to take without help from the MU Fellowship Office, which provided her with guidance throughout the years.

“I found out about RISE by going up to their table at the Study Abroad Fair my freshman year and have been involved with the office as an ambassador since then trying to recruit more students to apply for RISE,” she said. “I think the Fellowships Office is another great asset to Mizzou and has helped me, along with many other students, be successful in applying for these competitive fellowships.”

Now, Garrow is hoping this next step will lead her to an eventual job working in biomedical engineering, particularly a career related to surgery.

“Anything surgery related, like implantable devices or even helping develop new surgical procedures would be ideal,” Garrow said.