1. How is your last name “Ong”? You don’t look very Asian…
My husband is half Malaysian, hence the name. In case you’re curious, my maiden name Hornbostel is very German (and made signatures harder!)
2. What’s with all the breast pump stuff? I thought you researched energy.
My graduate research is focused on fuel cells, but I couldn’t help tinkering with the antiquated breast pump design while on maternity leave. There is so much room for improvement in making the breast pump suck less!
3. I heard you had three babies while getting your PhD at MIT. How is that possible?
I found that grad school was surprisingly compatible with starting a family, thanks to the flexible schedule and the amazing community in family campus housing. MIT is also very supportive of women and families in their policies, and was recently awarded for this. It also definitely helped to have an amazing husband, a wonderful nanny and an understanding thesis adviser!
4. What projects are you currently working on?
I am currently wrapping up the last journal paper from my PhD thesis, and I’m also preparing a pitch of my invention to breast pump companies.
5. What are your long-term career goals?
I plan to become a tenured professor of mechanical engineering at a research university where I can spend my time mentoring students on research and teaching courses. Stay tuned for developments…