Simran Dayal arrived at UT just in time to celebrate her 18th birthday. Her parents accompanied her on the long journey from their home in Delhi, India, and the family spent the day getting to know campus.
“That was the most memorable day to me,” she said. “It symbolized a major cultural shift in my life.”
Dayal received admission offers from multiple universities, but she was most impressed by the cultural and academic heritage at UT, and by the scenic beauty of Knoxville. She decided this is where she would pursue her degree in biomedical engineering.
“Coming to the United States, which is thousands of miles away from my home, was an exciting experience for both my parents and me,” said Dayal, whose parents stayed in town for two weeks to share the new experience. “The faculty, staff, and the students were extremely cooperative and made us feel as a part of the Vol family.”
A longtime interest in the natural sciences led her to enter a field combining engineering and medical disciplines, and personal experience inspired her as well.
“My initial motivation to pursue biomedical engineering came from my father, who has Type-2 diabetes,” said Dayal. “There are millions of people who are affected by similar diseases which have no permanent cure today. I believe that a degree in biomedical engineering will enable me to develop skills that I can apply to invent breakthrough technologies at affordable cost which will be accessible to the poorest of the poor.”
Her focus toward this goal is in the area of tissue engineering, regenerative medicine, and biomaterials. She gained practical experience with these during her sophomore year when she returned to India to work at the Textile Research & Application Development Centre.
“I received hands-on experience to work on different processes and the manufacturing machinery of textiles,” said Dayal. “Textiles these days are used as biomaterials in the area of tissue engineering. This experience exposed me to the environment of an R&D center, and reinforced the importance of using scientific fundamentals for the development of a product.”
Last year, she was named Outstanding Junior in Biomedical Engineering for her efforts in class and in the field.
“I had a mixed feeling of ecstasy and surprise when I first received the news,” said Dayal. “It was a delightful moment to get recognized for my hard work and perseverance. I felt thankful to my parents and my professors who supported me throughout the journey and believed in me.”
Since her first day at UT, Dayal has explored more of the area’s culture, enjoying bowling, movies, and concerts in downtown Knoxville—and a taste of home at nearby Indian restaurants.
“I enjoyed the cultural and intellectual diversity,” she said. “The teaching faculty is extremely good and they always were ready to provide help. My colleagues were also supportive and sharing in nature.”
The nurturing atmosphere and support of her fellow Engineering Vols adds to Dayal’s momentum towards earning a PhD after her graduation in 2019.
“Additionally, I want to thank my academic advisers for their valued guidance,” she said. “The university has provided me an excellent environment to pursue my professional and social objectives—ultimately leading me to become a more responsible citizen.”