• Dream big: Baylor ECS grad inspired toward his Ph.D. by BU mentors

    Auldynn Chambers (second from left) and other students

    The first time Auldynn Chambers heard someone suggest he consider pursuing his doctorate after graduating from Baylor, his immediate thought was, “Only really smart people get Ph.D.s. I’m not smart enough to do that.”

    Soon, Chambers will be doing just that, and pursuing a passion he discovered at Baylor — artificial organ development.

    The North Texas native, who will graduate with a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering this weekend, more than demonstrated his academic skills to the Baylor faculty members who encouraged him to consider graduate studies.

    This fall, Chambers (pictured above, second from left) will begin his path toward earning a doctorate in biomedical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University, a path Chambers had never considered for himself (but one that likely would not surprise those who knew him as a child). Growing up in McKinney, Texas, Auldynn was the kid who was always intrigued to take things apart — old microwaves and TV sets being the most notable examples — and then try to put them back together.

    Baylor’s School of Engineering and Computer Science was on Chambers’ radar as a high school student, but graduate school was not. As he immersed himself in academic and student life at Baylor, little markers along the way led him down a path he had not previously envisioned. He became a McNair Scholar, finding in that community other students whose aspirations and excellence sharpened his own. Last year, he earned a spot in a competitive summer research program at the University of Michigan, learning from a professor doing work on artificial lungs.

    Auldynn Chambers headshot

    Back at Baylor, Chambers was encouraged to consider getting his doctorate by both his McNair Scholars advisor, Steven Fernandez, and one of his engineering professors, Dr. Elon Terrell. Despite initial doubts, the steps he had taken had clearly prepared him for such a step. And, if he needed any further help envisioning himself earning a doctorate, Terrell was there to assist.

    “Dr. Terrell told me he had something for me to try out,” Chambers says. “He showed me a garment bag with his Ph.D. robe and regalia and encouraged me to try it on. He asked me how I felt seeing myself in that, and it felt good. He asked me if I wanted a photo in it, but that robe wasn’t mine. I told him, ‘I’ll hold off on a photo until I have my own.’”

    Now, Chambers is on his way toward making that moment a reality. At Baylor, he built a stellar academic resume and earned honors as a Provost’s Scholar and a GEM Fellowship recipient. After graduating, Chambers will move to Pittsburgh this summer to begin Ph.D. work at Carnegie Mellon studying biomedical engineering, with a focus on artificial organ development.

    “The human body is a great machine,” says Chambers, “and it’s very exciting to think that we might be able to come close to replicating that in ways that could help people, to serve a function they need.”

    Sic ’em, Auldynn!