Increasing Graduate Student Diversity
Here is how we're working towards our goal of recruiting and training a student body that reflects the population we serve.
Moving the Bar
We're proud that greater than half of BME graduate students are female, which is the highest percentage among UVA Engineering department. However, only ten percent of our students are underrepresented engineers. Our goal is to continue to attract female graduate students and to increase the number of underrepresented engineering graduate students.
We encourage applications from students underrepresented in engineering. Our department, the Engineering School, and the University offer many opportunities for underrepresented engineers - from student groups, to fellowships, to recruiting incentives, to events and activities that celebrate the diversity of our community. The Graduate Biomedical Engineering Society Chapter (GBMES) shares this goal. Recently the position of Diversity and Inclusion Chair, a new position on the GBMES Board, was created to spur on efforts to increase diversity in our department.
Minority Serving Institutions graduate a majority of the students of color in engineering. In 2017-2018 members of our faculty visited several Minority Serving Institutions, including The Xavier University of Louisiana, North Carolina A&T, Virginia Union University, Shepherd University, and Howard University to give research seminars and recruit prospective students to our graduate program. Faculty representatives also attended the GEMS Consortium Lab at the University of Maryland, the Black Engineer of the Year Awards Ceremony, and the National Society of Black Engineers Annual Meeting to share information about our graduate programs and describe the resources for underrepresented engineers at UVA.
Each summer our faculty members mentor undergrad students participating in National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates programs (NSF REU), including BME's own Multi-scale Systems Bioengineering REU and the School of Medicine's Summer Research Internship Program (SRIP). REU programs target (but are not limited to) underrepresented engineers and female students in their third and fourth years. We keep in close contact with our REU alumni and actively recruit these exceptional young engineers to the BME graduate program.
Cultivating a Culture of Inclusion
In 2017-2018, BME organized several department-wide activities aimed at creating a more inclusive environment. We hosted Dr. Greg Townsend, Associate Dean for Diversity, who gave an implicit bias training seminar. We organized a department-wide open forum on diversity and inclusion and a lunch program for international students to address their unique challenges.
The Graduate Student Diversity and Inclusion Committee improved the Graduate Student Handbook to include an up-to-date list of resources for underrepresented engineers, students with children, and LGBT students. They also made changes to our recruitment weekends to create an inclusive and welcoming environment. The GBMES chapter strengthened the peer mentoring program, which pairs incoming students with senior-level graduate students.