Ritu Raman is a Postdoctoral Fellow at MIT and an ASTC IF/THEN Ambassador.

Our Meet the Engineer series features the work of IF/THEN Ambassadors in engineering fields. Each profile shares stories, videos, activities, and free downloads, all designed to inspire girls to pursue STEM. The Works Museum is a proud recipient of an IF/THEN Gender Equity Grant.

WHY SHE BECAME AN ENGINEER

Hi, my name is Ritu Raman, and I’m the proud daughter of two amazing engineers. My first memories are of growing up in Kenya, watching my parents build communication towers in rural villages. We would travel to these villages every weekend and I would play with the local children while watching my parents connect the villages to the rest of the world.   These experiences with my family taught me that innovation can be used to solve many of the problems we face, and this inspired me to become a scientist.

HOW SHE ENGINEERS

Dr. Ritu Raman is an engineer, and in the same way that people build machines with wood, metal, or plastics — she builds machines out of living cells! She is fascinated by how biological materials adapt their form and function in response to their environment, and this inspires her research at MIT.  Ritu’s PhD focused on using skeletal muscle to make robots walk. These “biohybrid” robots can do things that synthetic robots cannot, like get stronger when exercised, or heal when damaged. She now studies how we can build biohybrid implantable devices that sense and respond to individualized patient needs.

“My research shows that we can use living skeletal muscle to power robots that move and walk around. These robots are the first of their kind! The really cool thing about them is that, because they are part biological, they get stronger when they exercise, just like us, and can even heal when damaged, just like us. This idea of using biological materials to build robots is called “biohybrid design”, and my goal is to teach the next generation of inventors, like you, how to build with biology!”

Ritu Raman