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Senior Avery Callahan Hopes to Bioengineer Solutions

Avery Callahan is a born problem solver. From helping other students succeed to uncovering better ways to engineer prosthetics, he wants to make a difference in his community. #BeOrange

Avery Callahan portrait

Avery Callahan ’19 likes to dig beneath the surface of a problem and uncover ways to fix it. The senior bioengineering major in the College of Engineering and Computer Science seeks a solution to any challenge, whether it’s imagining how to engineer a better prosthetic knee or bringing together disparate people on campus. “If something piques your interest, you should pursue it,” he says. “You may have a memorable experience.”

Callahan took his own advice when he visited Syracuse University as a rising high school senior, after narrowing his choices to three reputable universities. “I was immediately drawn to the campus vibe,” he remembers, and what impressed him most about Syracuse was the diversity of the student body. When he received a four-year, merit-based scholarship through the Donofrio scholars program, he knew Syracuse was where he belonged. “It meant a lot to be recognized as someone deserving of this award,” he admits, “but the best part of it was that recipients get to do an internship the summer after freshman year.” Callahan spent his internship studying shape memory polymers with Professor James Henderson in the University’s Biomaterials Institute .

Early STEM Engagement

As the only child of two engineers, Callahan was well prepared for his chosen field. “My mother used to give me timed math tests,” he laughs, “but it was my love for animals that grew into a fascination with biology in general. I essentially just combined my skills in math and love for biology and decided that bioengineering was the way to go.” A stream of achievements led to his selection for a 5-year program that will allow him to complete a bachelor’s degree this spring followed by a master’s degree in the spring of 2020.

Callahan’s career goals are clearly defined. “I would like to be able to design and engineer prosthetics by building off of products that are already on the market,” he says. “How can we make a prosthetic that functions like the body part it’s meant to replace? How can we make them more comfortable, or make them last for longer periods of time?”

My professors have really guided me in achieving my academic goals and developing my career goals.

These questions come up frequently in his interactions at Syracuse, and working alongside Professor Henderson is a case in point.  “I can pick his brain about his research and study under the best faculty in bioengineering,” Callahan asserts. “I’m exploring robotics now. My professors have really guided me in achieving my academic goals and developing my career goals.”

Broadening Horizons

Avery sitting on top of a basketball hoop in Paris

Avery explored many areas of Paris while studying abroad for the summer.

Many opportunities he’s embraced at Syracuse have little to do with science or math. “There are a variety of organizations focused on helping students adjust and succeed,” he says. When he arrived on campus, a peer mentor helped him develop time management skills and invited him to social and cultural activities. He found it helpful, so he became a mentor himself. Callahan is an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Incorporated , an organization that promotes community service and special events like a dialogue session exploring gender equality and understanding. A highlight of his extracurricular pursuits was a 5-week journey to Paris last summer where he took classes and explored landmarks. “The food was the best part,” he says.

Avery was also the beneficiary of an Our Time Has Come Scholarship, awarded to high-achieving underrepresented students on campus. “This means a lot to me,” he says. “It has helped me afford to attend Syracuse.”

Callahan appreciates the many ways Syracuse has prepared him for the world beyond campus, and he’s equally grateful for the bonds he’s formed here. “To me, being Orange means being part of a community that’s larger than yourself,” he says. “It’s being connected to people from many different backgrounds through your love for Syracuse University.”

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