From basketball court to engineering labs, Amy Loya ’14 has always been on her game.
The Bethel, Conn., native was a four-year member of the Union women’s basketball team, serving as team captain her senior season and graduating as one of the best defensive players in program history.
Now, back at her alma mater as a visiting assistant professor of biomedical engineering, she is building upon her experiences with college basketball in her academic research.
“I hope to combine my continued passion for athletics with my muscle mechanics research to inform strength training recommendations and post-injury management,” says Loya, who marked her sixth season as a volunteer assistant coach with the women's basketball team this academic year.
At Union, Loya majored in biomedical engineering, with a minor in electrical engineering. She earned her master’s and doctorate degrees from RPI and joined the Union faculty in January 2020.
Among the classes she teaches are Exploring Engineering, Graphics and Image Processing for Biomedical Systems, Biomedical Statics and Dynamics, Orthopaedic Biomechanics, Mechanobiology, Cell-Tissue-Material Interactions and Senior Capstone Design.
Her research focuses on muscle mechanics and human movement biomechanics, specifically related to women, an area that remains significantly under-investigated.
Since graduating from Union, Loya also has served as the STEM director for 4th Family, an Albany-based not-for-profit that provides academic and athletic resources for at-risk youth.
“We work with organizations including Microsoft, the NBA and the WNBA to broaden access to the science, technology, engineering and math career pipeline, and to show students how STEM can open doors to non-playing careers in professional sports,” she says. “Our aim is to provide students with resources and experiences so that they can recognize how STEM can help make them a better athlete, while also being able to see themselves as scientists and engineers.”
FIRST APP YOU LOOK AT IN THE MORNING: My “Clock” app to shut off my alarm. I like to work out first thing in the morning so that I don’t have a chance to come up with reasons to not go to the gym. The next app I should look at but do not is the weather app. I am eternally unprepared for the weather. Torrential downpour in the forecast? No rain jacket or umbrella. Blizzard conditions in the afternoon? Probably didn’t wear boots. I haven’t hopped on the BeReal train yet; but my mom recently learned how to send reels, so I do have to keep up with her on Instagram. I also help run the ECBE Department Instagram account, so be sure to follow along.
ONE SKILL YOU WISH YOU HAD: My engineering students can attest to my poor drawing skills. I am not very artistic or musically inclined. I admire people who are, and I appreciate different types of art, literature and music, but I can’t produce it myself.
ONE BOOK YOU HAVE READ MULTIPLE TIMES: “In a People House” by Dr. Seuss. I learned to read by memorizing this book, so by default, I think it sits at the top of the list. I have also flipped through the pages of “hoop the american dream” by Robin Layton many times. Robin is a photojournalist who traveled around the world to capture the community surrounding basketball, as well as the diversity and beauty, at its most elemental level: the basketball hoop. I loved the idea that everyone who has ever picked up a basketball remembers their first hoop, and the hoop becomes a part of each person’s story just as much as each person becomes a part of that hoop’s story.
BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECEIVED: My mom says, “It’s a lot easier to be nice to people than it is to be mean.”
FAVORITE SPOT ON CAMPUS: My office in Butterfield 318. Dawn, one of our Facilities staff members, has been propagating plants from cuttings from all over campus since I started working at Union (sorry to anyone who is missing a stem or two). I do not have a green thumb; but Dawn has taught me a lot about how to care for the different plans that are now flourishing in my office. Sometimes you will also find my 7-year-old Boxer mix named Scout and my 1-year- old Husky mix named Gus (short for Atticus) in tow.
GO-TO BREAKFAST: For as much as I love going out to breakfast, my choices during the week are inconsistent. The one constant is my cup (okay six…) of black coffee.
FAVORITE PODCAST: My podcast genres are all over the map; women’s sports, science, celebrity interviews, comedy, mental health, dog training… you name it.
LITTLE KNOWN FACT ABOUT YOU: I wouldn’t consider myself much of a risk-taker, but my fiancée, Lucy, has no problem pushing me out of my comfort zone so that I can keep up with her adventures. One vacation we took together involved a camper van that we picked up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and dropped off in Denver, Colo. I tried to fly by the seat of our pants for as long as I could. But the day before we flew out to Utah, I panicked and mapped out our route, the gas stations, the grocery stores, the National Parks and our campsites for each of the 10 days of our trip. Lucy also convinced me that it would be fun to completely gut and renovate a house together. Neither one of us is a contractor, an electrician, a plumber or any other profession you need to build a house. But undoing and redoing all of our projects created priceless memories. And yes, so far, the house is still standing.
3 DINNER PARTY GUESTS YOU'D LIKE TO HAVE (living or deceased): My grandparents. I was fortunate to be able to grow up with my four grandparents, all of whom have since passed away. My dad’s parents lived next door on a little farm, so my siblings and cousins were driving tractors, collecting chicken eggs and playing with tools in the woodworking shop way before we were “old enough.” My mom’s parents never missed a basketball game, a science fair or a Christmas concert. Transitioning from being the ones who were cared for to being the ones who were the caretakers had such a profound influence on our lives, one that we all hold close to our hearts.
FIRST CONCERT: My first memory of a concert was when my parents brought me and my three siblings to see the Beach Boys. Since then, we have attended a lot of concerts and live music together as a family. Coordinating my siblings’ and our significant others’ schedules to tailgate for a concert is much easier than trying to plan a family vacation these days.