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Grand Challenges Scholar, Spring 2024

Era Joy Padilla Agus

Era Joy Padilla Agus’ biomedical engineering journey began while she worked as a medical assistant at the Cardiovascular Associates of Arizona clinic after high school. There, she became fascinated by electrocardiogram, or EKG, machines.

“This experience sparked my enthusiasm to look deeper into the development, reliability and interpretation of medical technologies and their role in patient care,” says Agus, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University.

Agus joined the ASU Grand Challenges Scholars Program, which prepares students with the multidisciplinary skills needed to solve complex problems in areas such as health care.

After her first year, Agus decided to step out of her comfort zone and participate in her first hackathon, Hacks for Humanity. Her team won third place.

“Following the competition, my teammates encouraged me to get involved in more hackathons. One teammate had suggested I look into health hackathons,” she says. “Participating in all of those hackathons not only strengthened my passion for identifying and developing patient-centered solutions in health care but also reinforced my teamwork and communication skills that I still use to this day.”

Agus participated in research to advance imaging techniques and produce medicine during space travel. The ASU Barrett, The Honors College student presented her research, mentored by Professor Heather Clark and Assistant Teaching Professor Jose Maria Reynaldo Apollo Arquiza, at undergraduate research conferences hosted by Stanford University and Harvard University.

She also completed two internships, one for neural engineering research with the National Science Foundation BRAIN Center at the University of Houston, and a Synapse Internship at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix. 

Agus used what she learned to help other students as a teaching assistant and inspire the next generation of biomedical engineers as an E2 counselor welcoming first-year students, an Engineering Futures mentor and recruitment director for Fulton Ambassadors

She also enjoys teaching others outside of school. At her church, where she plays the organ, Agus leads the adult and children’s choirs.

After graduation, Agus is continuing her biomedical engineering education at ASU through the Accelerated Master’s degree program. In the future, she would like to be part of advancing technologies for better health outcomes.

“Using my education and experience as a Grand Challenges Scholar, I plan to address complex engineering challenges in health care,” she says. “Ultimately, my goal is to contribute meaningfully to improve patient care and leave a lasting impact in the field.”

Read about other exceptional graduates of the Fulton Schools’ spring 2024 class here.

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