Alumni Feature: Jenny Jarvis Pallme's UofM Journey to Biomedical Engineering

Jenny Jarvis PallmeOriginally from northern Wisconsin, Jenny Jarvis Pallme grew up in a small town bordering the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. She pursued her undergraduate studies at Northern Michigan University, majoring in Chemistry. Toward the end of her undergraduate degree, she discovered the field of biomedical engineering (BME) and found it incredibly intriguing. Driven by her passion for learning, she decided to pursue graduate studies, eventually enrolling in the Biomedical Engineering program at the University of Memphis (2014, Biomedical Engineering, MS & 2018, Biomedical Engineering, PhD).

Upon completing my PhD, she faced the pivotal decision of transitioning into the industry. Despite uncertainties about the specific role she desired, she was determined to forge a career path in Memphis, a city that had become her home during her graduate studies. Through networking and mentorship, she learned about an opportunity at Stryker, a local medical device company. Despite not meeting all the qualifications, she took a leap of faith and applied. After a series of interviews, she was thrilled to accept a position as a Biocompatibility Scientist. Over the past six years, she has had the privilege of leading an international team, ensuring the safety of medical implants and instruments through rigorous testing and research. Her role as a manager has allowed her to collaborate with design and process engineers, contributing to the development of innovative healthcare solutions. Jenny currently resides in Memphis, TN with her husband, J, their son, Jarvis (14 months), and their beloved golden retriever, Yooper.

Memorable Milestones

Although she has a multitude of unforgettable moments that have shaped her journey. Among the highlights, two stand out prominently. 

Following the completion of her MS degree in 2014, she was fortunate to receive a scholarship that enabled her to conduct research at Abo Akademi in Abo, Finland. Immersed in a vibrant academic environment, she spent four enriching months collaborating with esteemed researchers in her field. Beyond academia, she seized the opportunity to explore the captivating landscapes of Finland and Sweden, creating cherished memories.

In 2017, she embarked on another remarkable journey to Hungary to participate in Matrafured, an international conference focused on chemical sensors, aligning with the core of her PhD studies. Accompanied by colleagues and guided by her primary and secondary PhD advisors, the trip was made even more extraordinary by the personal touch of her advisor, Erno Lindner, who is from Hungary. His in-depth knowledge of the country enriched our experience, offering us a profound insight into his cultural heritage.

These experiences epitomize the exceptional opportunities that the University of Memphis provided her. They not only broadened her academic horizons but also fostered personal growth and professional advancement. She is deeply grateful for the collaborative environment and extensive network that empowered me to thrive and excel during my time at the university.

Impactful Professors and Transformative ExperiencesJenny Jarvis Pallme

She considers herself extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to work under Dr. Erno Lindner. She received incredible guidance from her “secondary” PhD advisor, Dr. Bradford Pendley, as well. These two are highly successful and knowledgeable mentors who guided her not only in her academic career but also helped her navigate life in a new city, learn valuable life skills, and prepare her for her future career. They never hesitated to answer her questions and offer sage advice. They were invested in her as a person, not just as a researcher, and it made her time at the university an incredibly meaningful experience that truly shaped her into the person she is today. She still keeps in touch with both of them.

Driving Forces for Graduate Studies at UofM

Jenny Jarvis PallmeShe applied to the University of Memphis without knowing a single person in the area. Upon receiving an email from Dr. Lindner requesting a phone call to discuss research opportunities, they connected instantly. The knowledge and passion he demonstrated for his research were evident, leading her to believe that he would serve as an advisor capable of guiding her towards becoming a proficient researcher, student, and knowledgeable scientist in her future career.

Valuable Skills and Personal Growth

She had the opportunity to study among a diverse group of researchers from many different countries, enabling her to learn about various cultures, personalities, and working styles. She didn’t realize how much this experience would truly benefit her and encourage her to continue seeking and welcoming diverse opinions in her career and in life.

Challenges Along the Academic Path: Triumphs and StrategiesJenny Jarvis Pallme

She found herself quite uncomfortable speaking in front of others. Her time at the University of Memphis offered opportunities to address this weakness through presentations to her lab group and the BME department, teaching undergraduate students, presenting at regional and international conferences, and guiding younger students about opportunities in the STEM field.

Wisdom Gained in Graduate School

When asked to share an important lesson she learned during her time in graduate school that she wants to share with others, she said, “Always ask the question – it’s how you learn and there’s no better time to ask than when you are a student! Also, explore opportunities to practice life skills – public speaking, networking, and crafting your ‘elevator pitch’.

Notable Accomplishmnts & Contributions to Your Field:

  • Promoted to Associate Manager, Biocompatibility – New Product Development at Stryker (2023)
  • University of Memphis Biomedical Engineering Advisory Board Member (2020-2023)
  • Dorothy Arata Academic Award (2019)
  • President of Alpha Eta Mu Beta, University of Memphis Chapter (2017-2018)
  • SWE Collegiate Engineering Expo, 1st Place Graduate Research (2017)
  • Five publications with two as first author (2015-2017)
  • University of Memphis Society Doctoral Fellowship (2016)
  • Johan Gadolin Scholarship (2014)
  • Clinton Douglas Watts Scholarship (2013)