Aspire

When Science and Textiles Meet in a Bright Student

We are happy to have one of our students showcased in Thomas Jefferson University’s newsletter, The Nexus. The following is an excerpt from an article by Mike Bederka about Heather Kelly, a graduate student in the Textile Design program. Heather’s interests call back to our beginnings as the Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science, where textiles and science intersected and fruited in innovation.

For a decade, Heather Kelly dived into her analytical strengths and worked in Jefferson’s microbiology lab as a lead technologist. She loved the behind-the-scenes aspects of health care, performing routine bacteriology, mycology and mycobacteriology and eventually moving into specialized cultures.

As her skills progressed, the lab also adopted more advanced methods to accelerate the diagnosis of critical infections like sepsis or meningitis. Kelly says she thrived on being on the frontlines of validating these rapid molecular methods, but at the same time, the technological evolution swirling around her inspired self-reflection.

Maybe Kelly needed a similar shakeup with her career?

“It fueled me to seek out new avenues,” she recalls.

Kelly always enjoyed knitting; however, she considered it a hobby, not a job possibility. That is, until she took a weaving workshop with Jefferson textile design program director Marcia Weiss, who answered Kelly’s questions about the field and opened her eyes to its potential.

“I saw how equally technical it was,” says Kelly, noting textiles could feed her creative spirit as well. “It was a great intersection of the things I love the most.”

Kelly enrolled in Jefferson’s MS in textile design program in the fall, but she admits she struggled at first with the switch. “Do I just have to give up these past 10 years of my career?” she thought.

Fortunately, learning about Jefferson’s work with hemp, especially in high-performance apparel and textiles, medical devices and wearable technologies, nudged aside any doubts. With these new opportunities, she could meld her healthcare experience and growing textile knowledge.

“It was a sign,” she says. “This is exactly what I want to be doing.”

Heather has already made a strong impression in the studio with her analytical approach to design. We look forward to seeing what she comes up with in the future.

Read the full article here.

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