Campus & Community

A Day in the Life of a Summer Scholar

Nina Burden, inaugural recipient of John F. Hedderich III Scholarship Award, shares her day of research, summer fun — and her pursuit of the perfect hoagie

student Nina Burden working in a lab

Growing up, rising junior Nina Burden always had an inclination toward medicine. She and her grandfather played vocabulary games in the car on the way home from school.

“I remember one of my first ‘big words’ was ‘ophthalmology,’” she recalled.

Always curious, she paid close attention at doctor’s appointments, always asking questions. So when it came time for her to choose a major at Stevens, biomedical engineering “immediately sparked an interest.” She was drawn to researching and developing products and machinery that can help people, whether through diagnosis or treatment.

This summer, Burden turned that idea into reality as the first recipient of the John F. Hedderich III Innovation and Entrepreneurship Summer Research Program Scholarship. The merit-based award, named after recently retired the technical director of DEVCOM/AC for the friendship and support that he provided to the Stevens community, is given to a student with outstanding academic success and proven creativity.

Burden proved to be a worthy recipient, spending 10 weeks at Stevens in the Laboratory for NeuroInnovation under the supervision of Professor George McConnell, where she researched the use of low frequency electrode stimulation to trigger neural immune system responses. The project, which will continue through the upcoming academic year, aims to discover a frequency band that can consistently minimize brain cell tissue scarring.

Outside of the lab, Burden still found time to enjoy some summer fun by coaching soccer and spending time with her friends in Hoboken.

The opportunity and lab experience in nervous system and neurological disease research was crucial in the pursuit of her goals. Burden plans to pursue an advanced degree and would ultimately like to work in the neuroscience/neuroengineering sector of the healthcare industry.