Biomedical engineer Amy Kerdok, Ph.D. ’06, knows firsthand how much a technological solution can affect a person’s life.

During her time on campus, Kerdok served as both “poobah” and women’s captain of the Harvard University Cycling Association. A well-rounded athlete, she led the team to success, but due to a congenital hiatial hernia, she suffered from gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and frequently was ill while riding. (“My teammates just got used to it,” she says.)

Now a clinical development engineer at Intuitive Surgical in Sunnyvale, California, Kerdok develops new instrumentation, advanced visualization schemes, and robotic platforms that support and advance robotic surgery. In fact, Kerdok trusts in her company’s work so much that she actually arranged in 2009 to have an esophageal surgery performed on herself using the da Vinci robot that she develops at work.

Completely cured of GERD, she continues to cycle, is currently training to run the Boston marathon, and looks ahead with the hope of one day teaching engineering design to undergraduates.