Asha Kirchhoff, bio-engineer by trade and community volunteer in her free time, has joined WonderLab as a new member of the Board of Directors. She will be a member of the board for a three year term, adding her sense of play and love of science to the dedicated team.
Kirchhoff first experienced WonderLab when she attended a WonderLab After Dark event with a friend. She was captivated by the exhibits and thrilled to notice that the musuem shared her love for animals.
“I really like animals,” said Kirchhoff. “I also really like the grapevine climber. My friend from Indianapolis came down and she said that we had to climb it. And I said: No it’s just for kids. And she said: ‘No, it’s After Dark, anyone can climb it!’ Climbing definitely brought out my inner-kid.”
Kirchhoff works as a Research & Development Engineer for Cook Medical. She studied bioengineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign receiving a Bachelor of Science degree. But her love of science began at a young age.
Kirchhoff’s father is an engineer; as a child she was encouraged to ask questions. “I had a lot of questions,” said Kirchhoff. “Why is the sky blue? How fast can cars move? He would try and explain to me.” Her initial career aspirations were to become a doctor or a scientist. “I knew that people got sick with cancer. I knew cancer was really bad and I thought:, ‘What if we can take out the cancer or give a person a new organ?’ ” she said. “And I thought: to do that I have to be a doctor or scientist.”
Then, in high school, Kirchhoff attended a seminar about bioengineering. She was hooked. Inspired, became a bio-engineer and never looked back. Now, as a research and development engineer, Kirchhoff works to develop new medical devices for physicians. The job is technical, but also involves the ability to communicate eloquently about science.
Kirchhoff keeps a busy schedule filled with work and her involvement with many initiatives. She tutors at Boys and Girls club, volunteers at Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) night events, at WonderLab STEM Sundays, various summer camps, and is involved with the Society of Women Engineers.
Through her tenure on the WonderLab Board of Directors, Kirchhoff hopes to create opportunities for the next generation. In addition, she wishes to use all the skills that she has learned as a WonderLab volunteer to continue to promote STEM outreach.
“Having Asha on board is exciting and important. As a woman of color and a professional engineer, Asha has several unique perspectives to offer,” said Emmy Brockman, Education Director at WonderLab. “Research supports that having different perspectives and diversity leads to greater innovation. Secondarily, in our educational philosophy, we talk about the importance of supporting science identities in all learners and part of that is exposing children to scientists that look like them.”
Asha Kirchoff’s first term on the Board of Directors will be from 2019 to 2022. The WonderLab Board of Directors meets monthly and functions as financial oversight and a governing body. Each board member is appointed to a three-year term. She is one of the youngest persons to serve on WonderLab’s Board of Directors.
WonderLab is an award-winning science museum located at 308 W. Fourth St. on the B-Line Trail in Bloomington, Indiana. The museum is open to the public from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 a.m. – 5: p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 – 5 p.m. on Sunday. General admission is $9, and children younger than one are free. For more information call (812) 337-1337, or go online to wonderlab.org or WonderLab’s Facebook page.
Asha Kirkhhoff: Asha is a bioengineer at Cook Medical, Inc. She recently joined the WonderLab Board of Directors for a three year term.
About the Author: Riddhi is a graduate student at Indiana University, Bloomington studying molecular biology. She is a passionate lover of orchestras, a keen sci-fi book reader and a traveller at heart. She is passionate about volunteering and giving back to the community. She is excited to have a fellow woman of color in STEM join WonderLab’sboard of directors!
Asha and Riddhi master the Giant Mechanical Crane. Photo by Ahsan Hameed.