Christian Nigel Pile


Georgetown, Guyana

Academic Interests

Biomedical Engineering, Engineering, Life sciences, Entrepreneurship.

Fun Fact

As a child, I wanted to become an astronomer.

I have always had an affinity for STEM, however in retrospect, I must acknowledge that the critical turning point in my academic life can be pinpointed to the activities I engaged in during my gap year prior to entering Duke. Firstly, throughout my gap year, I volunteered as a Math and Science tutor for several high school students. Through tutoring, I was able to further deepen my love for the Sciences and it was truly fulfilling to transfer this passion to my students, who ultimately developed an appreciation for these subjects as well. Moreover, this experience helped to solidify my decision to pursue a STEM degree in college. During this year, I also engaged in an internship with an organization in my hometown called STEMGuyana. This company serves to aid in the promotion of STEM in Guyana by making STEM education available to a wider range of students, especially those from underprivileged backgrounds. This firsthand experience of the far-reaching and positive impacts of STEM on minority groups further convinced me that this field would be a perfect fit for achieving my goals.

As I am concerned with contributing to society in a measurable and tangible manner, the field of Engineering immediately attracted my attention. By pursuing a degree in Engineering, I will ultimately be able to assist in the resolution of global challenges through translating unique scientific ideas into real-life applications. I am especially intrigued by the integration of Science and Technology with medicine; thus, Biomedical Engineering at Duke particularly piqued my interest since it forms the interface between these disciplines. This multi-faceted and interdisciplinary field has the potential to revolutionize the world by tackling some of society’s toughest challenges, through life-altering research and innovative solutions. I find this truly captivating.

Furthermore, my background of living in a third world country has highlighted the great disparity which exists between developing countries and their developed counterparts, especially in the fields of Science and Technology. This situation has served to cement my desire to make a significant impact in these domains. Over the summer after my Freshman year, I had the opportunity to apply my Engineering skills to a project designed for low-income countries. My team was specifically tasked with designing a non- invasive glucose monitoring device which can assist in the detection of neonatal diabetes. This project particularly underscored the dire need for accessible and low-cost medical diagnostic devices in third-world countries. I found the experience to be extremely interesting and I gained a sense of personal fulfillment knowing that the activities I undertake in this field have the potential to impact persons on a global scale.

During my sophomore year, I conducted undergraduate research in the Vo-Dinh lab under the guidance of Joy Li, a 4th year graduate student and I was also able to complete an independent study in this lab. The research project I have been involved in is focused on Nanorattles for point of care biomarker sensing, which has the potential to greatly impact the field of medical device diagnostics as it relates to Head and Neck Cancer. While working in this lab I have been able to learn many technical laboratory skills such as cell culture and prototype design. I intend to continue research in this lab during my Junior year as well.

This past summer I had the opportunity to work as a Post-Market Engineering Intern within the Supplier Engineering Team (specifically the Metals, Coatings, Facilities & OEM subgroup) at Cook Medical- a privately owned, global medical device company based in Bloomington Indiana. This company focuses on the design and manufacture of minimally invasive medical devices. During my internship I was a Project Lead for 20 projects where I closely worked alongside full time Supplier Engineers to investigate changes to product design, manufacturing processes and inspection processes at the supplier level. I gained a wealth of experience not only in Engineering but in the area of project management as well, while simultaneously learning about the numerous facets of the medical device industry. As a Biomedical Engineering student with mainly a research background, this experience allowed me to gain insight into what a job in the medical device industry is like and I hope to utilize both the technical and soft skills I acquired in my future work experiences.

My interests, outside of academics, are quite varied but there are two hobbies which have always been a part of my life. These are: sports and cooking! I enjoy both watching and participating in sports as well as staying active in the gym. But by far, my favorite has to be track, because I have been sprinting since the 2nd grade. At Duke, I am also involved in Duke Students of the Caribbean where I am the programming chair of the executive board and the National Society of Black Engineers.

What do you like about being a SPIRE Fellow?

I really enjoy the sense of community and collaboration that being a SPIRE fellow provides. It is great to have a network of individuals who are pursuing similar fields and can relate to you on a variety of different levels. Being a SPIRE fellow also provides numerous advantages and resources which are ultimately beneficial during your time at Duke.

Christian Nigel Pile
Christian Nigel Pile