The Biomedical Engineer Scaling New Heights – Actually – USC Viterbi

Emily Powis

Class of 2022 USC Viterbi biomedical engineering graduate Emily Powis climbing at Tick Rock in Pacific Palisades, California. Picture/Jack Inexperienced.

As a Coloradan rising up within the shadow of spectacular mountains, mesas and forests, the good outdoor was at all times going to be an enormous a part of Emily Powis’ life. Being the kid of adventurous mother and father solely fueled her daredevil sensibility, with each household journey a tenting and climbing trek into the wilderness.

“Our holidays had been probably not stress-free ­— they had been simply us doing one thing actually cool and going to loopy locations. It was one thing that I didn’t notice was irregular till I spoke to buddies about their holidays on the seashore,” Powis laughed.

Now, as she graduates from USC Viterbi as a biomedical engineer specializing in 3D ultrasound analysis, Powis has maintained her sense of journey. Not solely does she lead outside expeditions by means of SC Outfitters, however she’s additionally co-captain and co-president of the SC climbing crew, spending her spare time at California’s climbing hotspots, scaling intimidating rock formations.

Emily Powis

Powis bouldering at Buttermilk Boulders in Bishop, California. Picture/Irene Li

It was in highschool when Powis was first bitten by the climbing bug. Her mother and father had been lifelong skiers and backpackers, however after they had been first relationship, Powis stated her mother and pa used to go on climbing dates collectively. So one summer time she snuck into the basement and unearthed her mother and father’ climbing gear from after they had been in school. These ropes, footwear and harnesses would quickly develop into the brand new instruments of her commerce.

“I acquired actually into it, and I simply ended up going climbing each single day all that summer time. I instantly joined the climbing crew at my highschool, and thru that I turned rather more concerned in coaching and climbing outdoors,” Powis stated.

In school, Powis felt her smaller stature at 5 toes 2 inches made crew sports activities much less enjoyable. Nonetheless, climbing was a pure match; her physique and adaptability allowed her to mildew herself into the unimaginable shapes wanted to succeed in slim nooks and holds.

“The wonderful thing about climbing is that each physique sort and each individual has a unique fashion they will use to rise up the wall. Even if you’re actually quick, like me — I can do like loopy versatile stuff or scrunch up into a very tight little ball and that’ll assist me do the identical climb that possibly somebody who’s a lot taller can’t do,” Powis stated.

Her preliminary introduction to the adrenalin rush of climbing was by means of rope climbing – scaling an overhanging floor all the best way to the highest with the assistance of ropes and harnesses. She and her brother would spend their weekends all through highschool on the gymnasium, mastering the artwork.

“Rope climbing takes a very long time however it’s much more approachable to a newbie as a result of you may take rests on the best way up.”

Ever one for a brand new problem, Powis has extra lately been having fun with bouldering, free climbs over massive boulders, the place climbers cling at difficult angles with nothing however their very own fingers and a crash pad under them. No ropes. No harness.

Emily Powis at Joshua tree

Powis simply hanging out at Joshua Tree Nationwide Park. Picture/Margaret Cirino

“With bouldering you might be simply climbing over mats and any time you fall, you at all times will hit the bottom. There’s no alternative to relaxation. Usually it consists of very intense gymnastic strikes, which was exhausting for me as a newbie,” Powis stated. “Most individuals who come into climbing have a baseline stage of health, however for bouldering it is advisable to get into the mindset you’re going to fall possibly 20 to 30 occasions, and that’s okay.”

In her free time, you’ll typically discover Powis at California’s bouldering mecca, Bishop within the Japanese Sierra area, house to imposing highballs — lengthy, troublesome, and probably harmful ropeless climbs over massive boulders.

“At first, I completely wrote off highball bouldering as one thing I’d by no means do, however at Bishop I acquired into it just a little bit extra. Nevertheless it’s actually scary since you’re as much as 30, typically 40 or 50 toes up,” Powis stated. “For the primary 20 toes you’ve gotten the pad so that you’re protected however when you go previous that, it’s the ‘no-fall-zone.’ You don’t wish to fall, or you could possibly get badly injured.”

Powis stated she overcame the concern by strategically choosing climbs the place the decrease a part of the climb was troublesome, however it turned simpler on the ascent.

“I’ve realized it’s lots in my head and I typically will get into positions the place I’m simply climbing upward and I sort of neglect in regards to the threat of it.”

Not solely is hanging from terrifying rockfaces a ardour for Powis, however it’s additionally one of many causes she turned inquisitive about engineering. As she honed her craft in gyms and on climbing groups, Powis met new buddies who, coincidentally, had been finding out engineering or different STEM disciplines. She began to contemplate the truth that so many like-minded individuals additionally had this in widespread could also be a sign it was a subject she ought to think about. For a climber who’s so caught up with problem-solving and technique within the second, engineering appeared like a logical alternative.

“I’ve talked to lots of people about it and other people assume that engineers and STEM-related individuals get pleasure from climbing as a result of it’s a excessive failure sport. You must be used to falling a bunch,” Powis stated. “I believe that’s similar to engineering and analysis since you’re consistently making very incremental progress in direction of your aim, and I believe it takes a particular individual to wish to try this.”

Powis has been conducting 3D ultrasound analysis within the lab of Affiliate Professor of Biomedical Engineering Jesse Yen, the place her focus has been on {the electrical} points of the know-how, such because the printed circuit board design and connectors.

“You don’t actually hear about 3D ultrasound a lot as a result of many of the ultrasounds you see within the physician’s workplace or on TV are simply the planar view, and that’s as a result of 3D ultrasound is actually costly, so Dr. Yen and the remainder of our crew is engaged on creating low-cost 3D ultrasound units,” Powis stated.

Powis embarks on one of her first highball experiences at Bishop, California on the "Jedi Mind Tricks” climb in the Pollen Grains. Image/Matthew Pozzi

Powis embarks on one in all her first highball experiences at Bishop, California on the “Jedi Thoughts Tips” climb within the Pollen Grains. Picture/Matthew Pozzi

Powis has additionally been preserving busy working as an EMT, giving her a strong grounding for her future plan to check drugs. Within the subsequent 12 months she hopes to maneuver to her beloved Bishop to work on her medical college purposes whereas persevering with her climbing adventures.

Powis says she will be able to see some thrilling crossovers between her future medical profession and climbing.

“I can positively see potential with my outside pursuits. I lately came upon there’s a residency in wilderness drugs that you are able to do after which hopefully you may work in areas like search and rescue, which I believe can be very cool and is one thing I’m actually inquisitive about,” Powis stated.

For Powis, the understanding that climbing has given her in regards to the human physique and the distinctive bodily toll the game can have can be one thing she’s inquisitive about exploring by means of drugs. Lots of her buddies have persistent accidents equivalent to broken tendons of their fingers, which might prohibit them from climbing for a lot of months.

“As a result of climbing accidents are very area of interest, there are a number of well-known climber medical doctors who provide recommendation about tips on how to stop them. I believe it could be cool to look extra into the physiology of how these accidents occur.”

Learn extra about Powis’ outside adventures at Viterbi Voices.



Revealed on Could eleventh, 2022

Final up to date on Could eleventh, 2022

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