Kerry Eller Puts Ideas into Action

Update as of April 15th, 2020: We’re pleased to share that Kerry was named a 2020 Truman Scholar! Congratulations to Kerry! Read about her journey to the Truman below. 


Kerry Eller believes in a comprehensive approach to large-scale interdisciplinary issues, such as global health policy and medical technology. She has experience, supported by Northeastern and the University Honors Program, to help her put her ideas into action.


“My most impactful experience [at Northeastern so far] was spending a summer at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland [on a Dialogue of Civilizations,” Eller, COE’21, said recently. “It really helped me hone my career goals, learn more about international law and policy, and understand more about how those policies interact with my interest (bioengineering) specifically.”


Eller has found an academic foothold at Northeastern, as a Bioengineering major with a minor in International Affairs.


“I think it’s really interesting to see how international policy especially can impact the health of various populations. In bioengineering, especially, the sustainable development goals are going to be crucial in fostering partnerships that allow everyone to have the resources they need to create innovative solutions for the problems they identify in their communities,” she said.


With support from the Honors Program, Eller has traveled beyond Switzerland to see these international developments and partnerships firsthand.


“Being in Honors has given me more opportunities to go abroad,” she said. She has traveled to Uganda, Ethopia, and spent her first co-op abroad in Chile.


Eller’s focus on interdisciplinary academics and research, between global health, bioengineering and political science, is one of the many reasons she was named one of Northeastern’s four nominees for the Truman Scholarship and one of four nominees for the Goldwater Scholarship in February 2020. Her future plans align with the goals of the Truman Foundation, which is to promote public service in a variety of fields, and the Goldwater, which provides support for students in the sciences. She wants to earn a Ph.D. in Bioengineering, with a research focus on global health technologies.


“Following that, I want to work with NGO’s and companies to develop medical equipment that is suitable for use in specific low-resource contexts,” she said. “After doing field work like that for a few years, I might think about transitioning into more of a top-down approach to work on policies that create the possibility for innovation and development in low-resource areas.”


The nominations were unexpected to Eller, who found the application process in itself extremely valuable.


“I had (and still have) no expectation of actually getting the awards. However, going through the application process has immensely helped me to clarify what I want to do with my life… which is helpful in interviews and putting the rest of what you’re doing into perspective,” she said.


In this spirit, she hopes to return to Chile to continue the work she began with her co-op in Fall 2019, collaborating with researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on implementing a project regarding pesticide management.


Before that, however, she has coursework to complete. This spring, she will complete her Honors Interdisciplinary Seminar requirement, Global Health: Art, Science, and Imagination, with Dr. Richard Wamai. This broad approach to global health fits Eller’s interests neatly.


“I had talked with [Professor Wamai] about it last year while he was developing the idea for the seminar. I thought it was a great idea to give credit for attending other experiences like conferences and club meetings that have just as great an impact on your knowledge of global health,” she said.


Eller plans to begin her capstone project this summer, as she completes additional coursework.


“[We are] developing an international capstone project, designing something useful for our partner hospital in Ethiopia, which we are starting over the summer. I’m looking forward to that as well,” she said.


If anything rings true, it’s that Eller wants to make something useful for the greater good. We can’t wait to see what that becomes, in the near future and beyond.