Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in BME

The Department of Biomedical Engineering is rooted in a dual culture of medicine and engineering that provides a unique environment for translational research, collaboration and education. We are committed to fostering a culture of diversity, inclusiveness and equity among faculty, students and staff. Read our Mission statement for diversity, equity and inclusion.

The BME Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee is comprised of leaders at all levels who are passionate about ensuring that diversity, equity and inclusion are considered in all department activities. Faculty representatives serve as “DEI Representatives” on all major committees within the department. Postdoc, graduate and undergraduate representatives are nominated through local chapters of the Graduate Biomedical Engineering Society, the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers and other groups. Graduated committee members are invited to remain as alumni representatives. Meet the DEI Leadership committee.

Our activities and accomplishments are divided into current activities (ongoing or less than two years old), past activities (more than two year old) and immediate future goals as discussed in the DEI Committee's quarterly meetings.

Current Activities  Past Activities  Future Goals


Leadership Committee


Mete Civelek, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Co-Chair and DEI Representative for the Graduate Admissions Committee Prof. Civelek is the Diversity Facilitator of the BME department through the School of Medicine and also the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He was awarded the American Heart Association’s ATVB Council Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Recognition Award for his successful mentorship of students who are underrepresented in biomedical sciences. EMAIL

Kevin Janes, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Representative for the Executive Committee and Graduate Admission Committee Prof. Janes is the chair of the Graduate Admission Committee. He served as the co-chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for three years. He is also the DEI Representative for the Executive Committee. Email

Silvia Salinas Blemker, DEI Representative for the Promotion & Tenure Committee Prof. Blemker is the chair of the Seminar Committee. She is a passionate advocate for increasing diversity in STEM, having been involved since her undergraduate days of serving in leadership roles in Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers. She co-organized a national NIH workshop entitled: “Amplifying Impact by Nurturing Diversity”. She also chaired the first all-female faculty search committee in BME. EMAIL

Brian Helmke, DEI Representative for the Undergraduate Program Committee Prof. Helmke chairs the ASEE Biomedical Engineering Division Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Working Group and has facilitated workshops through the ASEE Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the UVA Center for Teaching Excellence, and the UVA BME Department on topics such as Universal Design for Learning and equitable teaching practices in large classes. EMAIL

Eli Zunder, DEI Representative for the Graduate Program Committee Prof. Zunder is a member of the Diversity Committee of BMES, and acts as a liaison to the Student Disability Access Center (SDAC). Email

Kristen Naegle, DEI Representative for the National Chapter of BMES Prof. Naegle is a member of the Diversity committee of the Biomedical Engineering Society and has created and delivered workshops on stereotype threat. Email


Lilly DeCostanza lilly.decostanza@virginia.edu is a PhD student in the Peirce-Cottler lab.

Catalina Alvarez aca9pw@virginia.edu is a PhD student in the Janes Lab.

Zehra Demir qkh9uu@virginia.edu is a PhD student in the Sheybani Lab.

Kris Rawls, Alumni Representative, is a 2019 graduate from the Papin lab and a member of the Department's Alumni Advisory Board.

Biomedical Engineering's Candid Conversations

An ongoing series of inclusive discussions about race, LGBTQ+ identity, disability and other identities, led by the graduate student chairs of the department's Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Committee