Student Profile: Chelsi Serba

Senior leverages engineering skills to help others

After tearing her ACL twice in high school while skiing competitively, senior Chelsi Serba devoted her undergraduate career to researching medical devices to improve the quality of life of amputees and  individuals recovering from injuries.

Working with Professors Keith Gordon and Matthew Major in the Feinberg School of Medicine’s Human Agility Lab and the Northwestern University Prosthetics-Orthotics Center, Serba studied the biomechanics of trans-tibial amputee gait stability. Using MATLAB, she developed code to analyze data on the walking patterns of trans-tibial prosthesis users, revealing trends influencing subjects’ recovery responses to different limitations placed on movement.

Serba was included as an author on the research, which was published in the January 2018 issue of Scientific Reports. She also presented the study at the 2017 and 2018 American Society of Biomechanics Conference.

Over the summer, Serba interned at Verb Surgical, a surgical robotics company formed from a corporate partnership between Google and Johnson & Johnson. Located on the Google campus in Silicon Valley, she worked with the verification team to ensure that requirements for surgical robots were met and verified. Her time was split between coding, mechanical design and testing, and documentation/protocol development.

“I was fully integrated into the team as an engineer and was able to make productive contributions to the company,” Serba said. “Verb’s product is going to make a difference and improve so many lives around the world.”

Serba hopes to work at a medical device company following graduation, and she may not wait long to achieve that goal. Verb has already offered her a full-time position to rejoin the company after she graduates in June 2019.

When she’s not conducting research, Serba is a productive member of the Northwestern community. She is currently serving as president of the Northwestern Ski and Snowboard team, a member of the Society of Women Engineers and Delta Gamma sorority, and a Red Cross CPR training instructor with Northwestern’s Community Health Corps.