Managing Work-Life Balance

This student proves you can be busy working on your PhD and still pursue other life goals

Eat, sleep, work, repeat seems to be an appropriate life description for a graduate student. For Ayoola T. Brimmo, a Global PhD Fellow in Mechanical Engineering, it is no different. 

Brimmo is part of a team who uses 3D printing to create a cost-effective microfluidic probes at the Advanced Microfluidics and Microdevices Laboratory at NYUAD.

Probes are typically made out of glass or silicon, and are used by scientists and researchers to study cells and tissues in a controlled environment. A major barrier for the team, initially, was the fabrication process. “To advance the technology, we needed to have a complicated structure, and the conventional fabrication process was limited,” Brimmo said. 

With the 3D printer at NYUAD proving to be a more affordable technique of creating probes with complicated structures, it opens up new paths for scientists like Brimmo to innovate and do research.

With the prototype already developed, Brimmo’s final paper is trying to show applications with injecting proteins into neurons and extracting genes from cancer cells with the aid of electrical stimuli.

The Importance of Good Support 

Any graduate student can tell you how important it is to have a supportive advisor, and Brimmo is glad to have a mentor like Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering Mohammad Qasaimeh

“(Professor Qasaimeh) is always trying to make sure we are not just writing papers, but that we are able to communicate our work, and also have a life outside (research). He’s really helpful in trying to combine all three elements."

A supportive advisor is key but so are resources available on campus. “There are a lot of opportunities to travel for conferences and grants,” Brimmo said. These are important opportunities to meet people in the field and get exposed to future collaborations. 

Brimmo also has the opportunity to learn Arabic on campus, and keeps active playing sports such as tennis and football.

You can advance your career here and also pursue other passions you have.


Passion Project

While he dedicates most of his waking hours on his research work, Brimmo finds what little time he has to work a side project. 

Brimmo grew up on a farm in Nigeria, with chicken waste being a huge issue for his family business. Waste management infrastructure in the country is lacking, so Brimmo began brainstorming ideas.

Waste in Nigeria heads straight to the landfill without ever being sorted, he explained. While scavengers scour the land to get some money out of it, most of the time items are too dirty to be recycled.

Working with his business partners and startAD, an Abu Dhabi-based global accelerator that helps startups launch, develop, and scale their ventures, Brimmo is working on an incentivized system to encourage the collection of waste in the UAE and hopefully to improve the situation back home in Nigeria.

  • Read: Incentivizing collection of recyclables