Home is where the heart is for this Florida-born Ivy-Leaguer.
After growing up in the Gainesville area, Chelsey Simmons ventured out to Harvard for her undergraduate degree, followed by a master’s and PhD from Stanford. But when it came time to find a tenure-track position at a top research university – with a mechanical engineering department within walking distance of a medical school – she was pleasantly surprised to find there was no place like home. Here at UF, Simmons runs a lab that engineers biomimetic systems that the College of Medicine uses to study cardiovascular cells.
“We don’t need to build something that acts like the heart to replace the heart. We can build something that acts like the heart to learn and understand how to get the heart to fix itself!”
As a youngster, Simmons caught the engineering bug at a UF E-Week event in the O’Connell Center. Nowadays, she rewards her hard-working grad students with trips to memorable childhood destinations. Her favorite? A mile-long stretch at St. Augustine Beach that ends at the Beachcomber Restaurant, where wings and cold drinks are served on a “no-shoes-required” surf-side deck. Engineering good health requires good times.
Q & A with Chelsey
- What is your official title at Gator Engineering?
Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering
- Coffee or tea? With milk or sugar?
Coffee with half and half and sweetener, not picky about the type.
- What are you reading right now, or what is the last book you read?
A Jack Reacher book by Lee Child.
- What was your first music purchase or concert you attended?
My first concert was MC Hammer at the O-Dome when I was in middle school. Boyz II Men opened for him!
- Where was your hometown, or where is your favorite place you’ve lived, other than Gainesville?
Zurich, Switzerland. I lived there for the better part of a year doing my postdoc, and I traveled to 13 countries using Zurich as a home base.
- What’s your favorite restaurant in Gainesville? What do you order there?
Southern Charm, and I order the meatloaf or the roasted beets. And I always order the sweet potato hush puppies, usually for dessert!
Follow Chelsey on Twitter via @ChelseyPhD