Bioengineer began journey in Deming
DEMING — Sharlene Flesher had never heard of bioengineering when she walked during the Deming High School Class of 2007 commencement exercise. Now she’s headed down a career path that bridges the gap between engineering and medicine.
Flesher began her journey in Deming as a threesport Lady Cat athlete and member of several extracurricular science clubs at DHS. She helped guide the 2005 Lady Wildcat volleyball team to a 21-4 record and a second consecutive state championship.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, she began working toward her Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh.
Flesher was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant for her research on a braincomputer interface that will allow patients with spinal cord injuries and prosthetics to gain feeling in their prosthetic limbs. Flesher has dedicated the past five years to research and work on the project and has made strides with two human patients during her work. The findings and work of the team was published in October in Science Translational Medicine journal. Flesher says the work has become second nature to her.
“Once you start training, you can’t turn that mode of your brain off,” said Flesher. “Computers are complicated but you can make them simple with ones and zeros, so I thought, brains are the same thing — they’re complicated. Let’s see if we can pack it down to zeros.”
Flesher serves as a role model to the students currently walking the halls of DHS.
“Figure out what you’re interested in and there’s somebody who’s going to pay you to do it,” said Flesher. “If you see a problem you need to address, just poke around, ask somebody and eventually you’ll get the answer.”