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Karla N. Robles

Engineering, Tennessee State University


Karla is a 2nd year PhD student in Engineering and Computational Science at Tennessee’s only state funded HBCU, Tennessee State University (TSU). Karla is a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship and an SMDP MedTech Scholar.

In her work, she develops and characterizes sustained-release microcapsules for the immunotherapy of ovarian cancer using electrohydrodynamic atomization (EHDA). Ovarian cancer, like many cancers, has lower survival rates in women of color. A sustained-release therapeutic can reduce the number of dose administrations, and this work will be particularly impactful for patients for whom frequent access to healthcare is a difficulty. As a scientist and engineer, she plans to continue to investigate health disparities and to design therapeutics for women’s diseases. In her career, she wants to build up inclusive communities where immigrants, people of color, members of the queer community, neurodivergent people, people with disabilities, and anyone with a journey is celebrated. Karla is an Ecuadorian immigrant and a first-generation student – she enjoys writing, crocheting amigurumi, and serves as a volunteer English instructor for adult Latinx students.


-SMDP MedTech Scholar, 2023
-NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, 2019