Mike Ferlazzo
570-238-6266 (c)

LEWISBURG, Pa. (June 4, 2024) – Elizabeth Malley ’26 aspires to become a physician in pediatric orthopedics, a path that only took breaking her leg — twice — to discover.

The Montgomery, N.Y., native is a passionate outdoorist who broke her leg while playing soccer in 2019, and again while cliff jumping in 2020. Her patient experience after the first break was negative and her second experience was inspiring, which taught her a lesson.

“I realized that the quality of care can vary with public health,” she says. “I decided that I wanted to go into the medical field and become a doctor to give back and have a chance to provide the type of care that the second doctor gave me.”

At Bucknell, Malley is gaining valuable hands-on experience that will benefit her future medical career as a student researcher in Professor Olivia Boerman’s biomedical engineering lab. The lab works to uncover how to help chronic wounds heal.

While she was in graduate school, Boerman discovered that ultrasounds can trigger a healing response in chronic wounds. Now, she, Malley and a team of student researchers are trying to better understand the effect of ultrasounds on different cell types. Malley uses techniques, such as polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, to analyze the interactions between the ultrasound and the key cell types involved in the wound healing process.

“I feel like I’m working toward a big goal,” Malley says. “The lab environment is so fulfilling, because everybody loves what they’re doing, and I also love the same thing.”

Malley knew she wanted to participate in research in college, having already conducted research in high school. In high school, she worked with Duke University researchers investigating how nanoplastics affect the regeneration rate of stem cells. When she applied to Bucknell, she was accepted into the Presidential Fellows Program, the highest merit-based scholarship offered at the University.

In the next two years, Malley and her fellow researchers will travel to conferences to present their findings. Malley says she appreciates the ability lab work gives her to collaborate with a team — an important skill as she prepares for medical school.

Last summer, Malley interned in her local hospital’s emergency room, where she assisted registered nurses in caring for patients. She returned again to the hospital this summer to work as a medical assistant and gain more hands-on experience. She’s also volunteering as an emergency medical technician in training.

“I’m trying to understand all the parts of the hospital so that when I become a doctor, I’m the best that I can be,” she says. “I want to understand patient care from all aspects — as a patient, taking care of patients in the field, in the ER, in the clinic and doing research,” she says.

Malley still makes time to get outdoors through Bucknell’s Outdoor Education & Leadership (OEL) program. As a first-year student, she participated in BuckWild, a Pre-Orientation program that helps incoming students transition into college life while exploring the Central Pennsylvania outdoors. She trained to become wilderness first-aid certified and then helped lead the program in her second year.

“BuckWild was a great experience,” she says. “We got to use the technical skills that we learned for outdoor education and bring in first-year students who were excited to join and get to show them the ropes of Bucknell.” OEL also gave her the opportunity to travel to Patagonia during winter break.

“Compared to a larger school, I think we get very unique experiences at Bucknell,” she says. “There are so many opportunities to grow and learn here because everyone is connected, friendly and wants to see others succeed, which is not always the case in such competitive environments. I think there’s an opportunity to flourish here.”


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At Bucknell, Elizabeth Malley ’26 is conducting hands-on lab research and seizing leadership opportunities, which are paving her path toward a successful medical career. Photo by Emily Paine, Marketing & Communications