Ronke Olabisi, PhD Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering and the Institute of Advanced Materials, Devices, and Nanotechnology, Rutgers University. Team Member, 100 Year Star Ship
The #SheInnovates stories team sat down with Ronke Olabisi to discuss the role of women in innovation. Get involved at She Innovates Global.
#SheInnovates Stories: Innovation is solving the world's problems. What problem are you solving?
Ronke Olabisi: Wound healing. Chronic wounds are wounds that fail to heal, or recur within 6 weeks-3 months. Some people live with them for 30-40 years. Their incidence is increased in the obese, the elderly, diabetics, and people with mobility disabilities. Since all of these populations are increasing, so is the problem. Thermal and radiation burns are also difficult to heal and I am tackling these as well. I figured out that if I microencapsulated 2 different types of cells, they would cause each other to go into overdrive and heal wounds much faster and without scars.
#SheInnovates: When did you realize your innovation was a breakthrough?
RO: When it sped up healing 3 times faster, and healed without scars.
#SheInnovates: What were some unexpected obstacles you overcame in the innovation process?
RO: Nobody believing it would work, despite what I thought was logical rationale, and nobody funding it until after I did the work that I needed the funding for.
#SheInnovates: What inspires you to love your work?
RO: Curiosity. The ability to have an idea, and just follow it to see where it goes. That’s a pretty great job description.
#SheInnovates: What do you hope that young women coming behind you take from your work?
RO: Science is discovery; engineering is invention. Neither is more important than the other, what’s important is to do whichever inspires you. Along the way, you may stumble into both a discovery and an invention.
#SheInnovates: Why are women in innovation important?
RO: Women make up 51% of the Earth’s population. Without women, we’d lose out on more than half of the world’s ideas, innovations and potential solutions.
Interviews have been lightly edited for clarity and length.