On Dec. 8, Kristen L. Rhinehardt made North Carolina A&T State University history by becoming the first graduate of the master’s program in nanoengineering.
Rhinehardt, 24, is a High Point native who enrolled in the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering after graduating from Cornell University in 2010 with a bachelor’s in biological engineering.
“My family is here and I knew I wanted to continue my education,” said Rhinehardt, who graduated N.C. A&T summa cum laude. “My mother is also an Aggie alumna with a master’s in counseling. I thought it fitting to follow in her footsteps.”
After working with biofuels, medical imaging and cancer research, Rhinehardt wanted to know more.
“In each endeavor, there were questions about what happens on the nanoscale. It’s the next phase of discovery,” she said.
Last year, Rhinehardt won the ASME Bioengineering Division Award for the ASME Society-Wide Micro and Nano Forum at the ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition for her thesis work on Computational Modeling of Mucin 1 (Muc1) Peptide and Anti-Muc1 Aptamer Binding.
Rhinehardt is no stranger to being recognized for her hard work. She graduated from T. Wingate Andrews High School in High Point as the valedictorian in 2006. While at Cornell, she was a James L. Broadhead Scholar, McMullen Dean Scholar, Cornell Meinig National Leadership Scholar and a Syngeta Science Scholar. As an athlete, she lettered in varsity women’s track and field and was a five-time heptagonal champion.
Now a doctoral student in the A&T program, Rhinehardt does inspirational and academic public speaking around the Piedmont Triad and has plans to continue research to bring forth more enabling technologies and teach at the university level.
As the first graduate of JSNN’s master’s program in nanoengineering, Rhinehardt can offer current and prospective students some advice.
“Stand firm on your undergraduate foundation and be open to the new experience,” she said. “Things are quite different on the nanoscale, so be ready to see things differently.”