Alumni News

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Dr. Tara Ruttley Earns "Graduate of the Last Decade (GOLD)" Award

Rutley train nasa astronaut

In April 2008, Dr. Tara M. Ruttley was awarded the GOLD award from the College of Engineering. Dr. Ruttley earned her B.S. in Biology and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, along with the Graduate Certificate in biomedical engineering, from Colorado State University. She went on to earn a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Ruttley is currently the lead NASA engineer for all of the hardware that is used to support human research on the International Space Station (ISS).

She is currently working on a joint project with the National Science Foundation to deploy an inflatable habitat in the Antarctic environment, which would serve as a Martian and Lunar analog for the development of future habitat designs. Dr. Ruttley began her career with NASA in 2001. She has spent time in extreme environments used as space exploration analogs.

While at Colorado State, Dr. Ruttley was an active member of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and Sigma Xi. In addition, she received a patent for her work on her master's thesis and led the first team of CSU students to participate in NASA's parabolic flight program. Dr. Ruttley was the first graduate to receive her degree within the biomedical engineering concentration.

Dr. Ruttley is a certified Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and volunteers her time to the local community emergency response system. In addition, she is currently a motivational speaker to undergraduate students within the Council for Opportunity in Education programs. She currently resides in Houston, Texas, with her husband Paul and their daughter Anna-Marie.

Her advice to students: "Have fun while developing your future. Try not to be too hard on yourself and enjoy the moment."

Maile Ceridon Studies at the Mayo Clinic, NASA and Antartica

MC bench work

It is not every engineer that gets to study at both NASA and in Antarctica, but Maile Ceridon is no ordinary engineer. This Mayo Clinic graduate student has had opportunities of a lifetime, starting at CSU. While an undergraduate at CSU, Maile worked with Dr. Susan James in the Rocky Mountain Materials Research Lab. She participated in research studying friction and wear between different components of hip and knee replacements. She also helped build a device that simulated micro gravity that later was tested on NASA's "vomit comet," completing mechanical testing on the different polymers modified to reduce friction. Maile continued her research career as a cooperative education student for NASA, where she studied constant force resistant exercise units.

Following her graduation from CSU, Maile accepted a fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in the Department of Physiology and Biomedical Engineering at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. Her research focus is on bronchial circulation and blood flow to the non-gas exchanging airways, specifically researching this circulation in heart failure patients versus healthy patients. Maile is researching changes in pulmonary function as well as functional abnormalities, regulation of flow through the bronchial circulation, and the cost and work of breathing.

Her graduate research has allowed her the opportunity to travel to Antarctica with current mentor, Dr. Bruce Johnson. While in Antarctica, Maile was part of a team studying acute hypoxia, determining whether genetic or biochemical markers predetermined altitude sickness. For six weeks the team took blood samples and collected data on pulmonary function, blood pressure, heart rate and other physiological functions, comparing samples across people and locations. The team is currently analyzing the data. Maile's favorite part of the project was "being able to study science while being in Antarctica."

Maile's advice for incoming undergrads includes: "Find something that you really enjoy and go after it. If something sparks your interest along the way, don't hesitate. Ask how to get involved and put yourself in a position to learn more and have a new experience. Ask questions and be aggressive about your education and your knowledge." She also mentioned that students should enjoy Fort Collins, the mountains, and the opportunity to play outside most days of the year.

Her advice for graduate students is to "stay involved in something outside of your work. Graduate school is hard and it is easy to get caught up in the culture of just science, but you need to maintain something of yourself and your identity. Get involved in something outside of your work, and keep your life balanced."

Kevin Bugbee, a Recent ME Grad, Reflects on the Program

In December 2007, Kevin Bugbee earned his Master of Engineering (ME) degree in the School of Biomedical Engineering (SBME). Kevin earned his Master of Engineering while continuing to work full time. Although this was no easy feat, Kevin persevered because he saw that the ME would help him become more marketable in the workforce. The thing Kevin enjoyed most about the SBME program was the variety of courses available at CSU - the program allows the "flexibility to focus your education toward your interests or pursue a broad spectrum of courses in bioengineering across multiple disciplines."

Kevin is currently a project/process engineer at Carestream Health in Windsor, Colorado, a company that manufactures x-ray film. He lives in Greeley, Colorado, with his wife Lisa and 3 children. With his free time since graduation, Kevin has enjoyed getting back into hobbies including woodworking and maintaining a reef aquarium, and taking his "bogle" (boxer-beagle mix) dog to the park.