This future engineer thrives on perpetual motion


Melissa Boswell is a published researcher, and she has yet to earn her college degree.

The biomedical engineering major, who has worked on several research projects in faculty labs since her freshman year at UA, said these opportunities have not only enriched her college career — they have given her a career focus.

She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomechanics after graduation in December, Boswell told UA’s Board of Trustees during a recent presentation on her Akron Experience.

Melissa Boswell

Melissa Boswell

“Research has increased my knowledge technically, allowed for networking with many people throughout the field of biomechanics, and provided the opportunity to travel to places throughout the country, and soon the world, to present my findings and learn so much more than I could have otherwise,” said Boswell, also a member of the Honors College.

The choice of attending UA, and her major, seem predestined to the Copley resident.

“My parents, Cindy and Scott Boswell, are University of Akron alumni,” said Boswell. “Having my mom a nurse and my dad a computer engineer, biomedical engineering fit right in between. I also attended a camp through Women in Engineering at Akron, which further inspired me to pursue an engineering degree.”

First publication

It was a project on the force and shear patterns under the feet of people with diabetic neuropathy — conducted in the lab of Dr. Brian Davis, that inspired the subject of Boswell’s first publication. She co-authored the work with Davis, Visar Berki, a research technician at UA, and others in the field.

Boswell is now working on a more independent project that could improve patient outcomes after reconstructions of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and knee implants.

“Over the past 25 years, I have mentored dozens of students,” noted Davis, chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Very few have the intellectual, work ethic and time-management skills that Melissa possesses. She seems to extract maximum benefit from every minute of every day.”

Akron Experience = involvement

Melissa Boswell with guests

After her Board of Trustees presentation, Melissa Boswell, center, is seen here with Student Trustee Garrett Dowd, left, her grandfather, Michael Coughenour, father, Scott Boswell, and Dr. Brian Davis.

For Boswell, that means balancing academics and research with involvement in a wide variety of organizations on and off campus. They include Emerging Leaders, College of Engineering Dean’s Team, Engineering Student Council, Zippy Multisport, Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society and Mortar Board Senior Honor Society. Boswell has served as secretary for the Biomedical Engineering Society and Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society. She’s taken part in two Alternative Spring Break service trips and mentored young students at Kids Career Day, hosted by Women in Engineering.

Boswell also is the president and a founding officer of the Biomedical Engineering Design Team — its members innovate and design medical devices to help with real world problems. “I am excited to see how this organization grows and the devices that will come of it,” she noted.

Career focus set

Her efforts as an undergraduate have earned Boswell several honors, including an Exemplary Honors Senior Award and an honorable mention for the nationally competitive Goldwater Scholarship.

Like most engineering majors, Boswell has made the most of cooperative work experiences prior to graduation.

At her first co-op, with the Toyota Technical Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., she was a crash safety evaluation engineer. That experience led Boswell to a second co-op assignment at the Wake Forest Center of Injury Biomechanics working on human body modeling to evaluate injuries.

“I have found my passion in injury biomechanics and, in addition, a passion to learn,” noted Boswell. “With that comes my motivation to continuously improve both academically and as a person. I hope that through innovation in the field, I can help to improve the quality of life for many people.”