Bunmi Fariyike ’20 Earns Fulbright Scholarship

Fariyike will study antibiotic resistance at Spain’s National Center for Biotechnology

Apr 21 2020 | By Jesse Adams | Photo Credit: Courtesy of Bunmi Faryike

Fulbright winner Bunmi Fariyike will spend nine months in Madrid. He previously won a global health research fellowship to the Dominican Republic.

Graduating biomedical engineer Bunmi Fariyike ’20 has received a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship to conduct genetic engineering research in Spain.

Fariyike will spend nine months at Madrid’s Centro Nacional de Biotecnología (National Center for Biotechnology) developing a platform for modeling bacterial development of antibiotic resistance in vitro, in order to more accurately predict how and why bacteria develop the ability to withstand treatments. It’s a priceless opportunity to link his passions for medicine and public health, he says.

“I expect that my experience outside of the lab will be just as critical as my time in it,” said the Egleston Scholar, who is also minoring in Hispanic Studies. “I’m excited to expand my knowledge through Spanish language, history, traditions, and especially cuisine. I’m also excited for more opportunities to practice the cultural competence and flexibility that will be critical for a doctor focused on global health.”

Already a global traveler during his Columbia Engineering experience, Fariyike previously spent a semester abroad studying in Madrid, and won a global health research fellowship through ICAP at the Mailman School of Health to conduct research in the Dominican Republic. As program manager for the Columbia chapter of Engineers Without Borders’ Ghana program, he also traveled twice to west Africa to co-lead a team increasing a small village’s access to potable water.

I don’t think I would have become who I am today without Professor Kyle. It’s been indispensable having a professor who always demanded the best out of us and then a little bit more.

Bunmi Fariyike ’20

On campus, in addition to his extensive coursework, he spent over two years conducting synthetic biology research with Professor Virginia Cornish of the Department of Chemistry. Over the course of his undergrad career, he found working with Aaron Kyle, senior lecturer in the discipline of biomedical engineering, to be a formative experience.

“I don’t think I would have become who I am today without Professor Kyle,” he said. “It’s been indispensable having a professor who always demanded the best out of us and then a little bit more.”

Now back home in suburban Atlanta due to the COVID-19 lockdown, he is collaborating with teammates to bring their senior design project to fruition—a device designed to provide access to medical-grade oxygen in low-resource settings.

“Seeing just how needed biomedical engineers are in the midst of this pandemic has definitely gotten my gears turning,” he said. “Our senior design project is just the kind of device many countries could be looking for in the near future, which is why our team has poured so much effort—even from home—into making it a reality.”

Looking ahead, Fariyike hopes that his work can bring life-saving care to as broad a swathe of humanity as possible.

“At the core of my interest in both engineering and medicine is an intrinsic desire to use my education to empower communities around the world through healthcare,” he said. “Ultimately, my goal is to become a surgeon engaged in similar types of research or design projects that address the unique challenges faced in developing nations to ensure equitable access to the best of medical technology.”

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