Senior Profile: Megan Tse immerses in research, supports fellow women engineers

Senior Megan Tse poses for a portrait in the Science and Engineering Complex on April 23, 2018. Ben Kim / The Tufts Daily

Graduating senior Megan Tse refers to the factors that helped her decide on Tufts as “a series of random events.” She came to Jumbo Days as a prospective student and felt that she could see herself among the students walking around on campus. She was also very intrigued by the research going on at the school — something she hadn’t done before college. But what really sold her on the school was when she came to a Women in Engineering open house.

“When I visited, I got to hear about all of the cool things they were doing,” Tse said. “It was the only school that really emphasized this community for women in engineering-related fields.”

When Tse was a child, she had trouble hearing and had to wear hearing aids in both ears.

“They were pretty bulky and not very comfortable to use,” she said. “Especially as a kid … you don’t want to have to wear these things in your ears all of the time.”

Tse wondered if there was a way to make them better. That is where her interest in medical devices started.

“I realized I had the potential to revolutionize devices,” she said. “That’s how I found out that there’s this thing called biomedical engineering.”

Now, graduating with a degree in biomedical engineering, her interests have only blossomed more.

Tse has worked on several research projects since matriculating at Tufts. Her first was a tissue engineering project in which she got the opportunity to work with cell cultures for the first time.

“I had the power to manipulate and take care of these cells in ways that I have never been able to do before, which was the most exciting thing ever for me,” she said.

Tse has also done research working with optical devices, as well as using a field-effect transistor as a biosensor for indicators such as the blood concentration of glucose. Her most recent research — which is also doubling as her capstone project — involved using culture cells on scaffolds to construct intestinal tissue. She also worked to develop a new model of intestinal tissue that includes crypts and villi, as well as incorporating a cell type called organoids. To construct such features, Tse has been doing a lot of 3D printing, micromachining and micromolding.

“Hopefully, the idea is you can eventually implant that back into people or use it as a modeling tool of some sort,” Tse said. “We always want to make things that are relevant to people.”

In addition to her research, Tse is involved in many engineering-related clubs on campus. She is currently co-president of the Tufts Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) and a member of Tau Beta Pi, the engineering honors society. She was also formerly vice president of the Tufts Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

One of the biggest things Tse stressed about BMES is its emphasis on connecting students with professors.

“Students can sometimes get lost when faculty are teaching the classes and the students are just sitting at their desks and listening to them. There’s not a lot of interaction,” she said. “As an undergrad, BMES is what really helped me get more interactions with the faculty.”

Tse also mentioned that at times, it can be very daunting to be a woman in the field of engineering.

“Engineering is very male-dominated, which can be intimidating and make it difficult to interact with people,” she said.

However, Tse felt like SWE has helped her face this challenge and find support in her peers, especially in balancing between her research and her classes.

SWE helped me realize that we’re all in it together and they’ve been a really big support for me from the start,” she said.

Immediately after graduation, Tse will spend two weeks in Japan and Hong Kong before coming back to intern at Merck for the second time, where she will be conducting research on pharmacological evaluations. In the fall, she will take her talents to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she will pursue a Ph.D. in biological engineering.

“I am thinking of doing tissue engineering and regenerative medicine, although I am going to try out a lot of different things there,” she said.