5 questions with…playwright, baker and biomedical engineer Erin Lavik

Erin Lavik, an associate professor of biomedical engineering, is known around campus for her groundbreaking research in synthetic platelets, drug delivery in the eye, and approaches to repair the nervous system. But outside the lab, her interests are varied: She’s a published playwright and a successful wedding cake baker.

Lavik’s third and most recent play, Galileo Walking Among the Stars, connected her love of science with her talent as a playwright. Through the play, which had a staged reading at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York City in 2003, Lavik wanted to dispel the long-held myth propelled by theater and movies of the lonely, mentally unstable scientist.

Prior to that, her play The Reception connected to her other work: creating wedding cakes. It takes place around the dreaded “singles’ table” at a wedding reception, but it throws into the mix a bouquet, a wedding cake and—what else—a dead body. (You can read her scripts in full online.)

Luckily, such a tragedy has never come from one of Lavik’s skilled creations.

“Everyone who has had one of my wedding cakes is still married and they all seem happy,” she said. “It’s clearly all about good food.”

Learn more about her.

1. What superpower would you most like to have?
I’d love to fly. Getting to see the world from a different perspective would be incredible.

2. What’s your favorite place to dine in Cleveland?
My dining room with lots of friends. I love dinner parties. Julia Child is my hero, and there’s lots of fun in trying out new recipes.

3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A professional figure skater, an astronaut, a sculptor and a vet. I also wanted to be on the Supreme Court. I haven’t given up on the last one. Actually, I haven’t given up on any of them, although the figure skating may be a bit challenging at this point. I haven’t tried to land an axel since I was 12.

4. What accomplishments are you most proud of—personally and professionally?
Personally—I like that I can make people laugh. It’s good to see joy. I don’t think it’s an accomplishment, but I’m very lucky to have wonderful, loyal friends.

Professionally? I think that the work we do might actually be useful, and I love that I work with an incredible team of people. My lab is amazing.

5. What’s your favorite thing about Case Western Reserve University?
I visited here to give a talk. I was very happy where I was, but when I saw how well people worked together, and when I saw that people worked toward solving really important problems to help people, I wanted to be here. I love that it really is an incredibly collaborative place going after huge problems and solving them.