So, what ARE we looking for in applicants?

UVA Biomedical Engineering has joined the wave of graduate programs eliminating the GRE application requirement. GRE will be optional for 2020 applicants to our PhD, ME and ME programs. So, what ARE we looking for in applicants? We asked our graduate program director, graduate admissions director and Master of Engineering program director. Here’s what they had to say...

... and be sure to read on to learn why our first year students choose UVA for their graduate training in biomedical engineering.

Grad program director Shayn Peirce-Cottler

"I pay attention to examples of life experience that demonstrate curiosity, grit and determination. Take my lab as an example. Even if you haven’t done agent-based modeling and you don’t have a background in cardiovascular research, that’s not a barrier to joining my lab. It’s more about your passion and motivation, your willingness to learn something new and to be open to risk than it is about a specific knowledge base or skillset."

Shayn Peirce-Cottler, PhD, Graduate Program Director

Grad admissions director Craig Meyer

"I’m looking for PhD applicants who are really interested in research and who can demonstrate that through prior experience, coursework or projects they’ve done. Even if you never had the opportunity to do research, you can still demonstrate the motivation I’m looking for. It involves showing us that you have curiosity and the desire to learn—and the desire to make a difference. That’s the key to our graduate program. We’re located in a medical center, and we collaborate with physicians, basic scientists and people in industry. There are a lot of ways to make a difference here. Tell us how you want to make a difference. It’s often one of the first things I ask an applicant in an interview."

Craig Meyer, PhD, Graduate Admissions Director

Jonathan Rosen, PhD

"When we review an application for our new BME Masters of Engineering program, the first thing we consider is if the candidate can excel in the advanced technical courses that they take alongside our PhD and MS students. Then, through their personal statements, we make sure that our program can help fulfill their individual career objectives and that they share our passion for contributing to the future of healthcare through the design and development of breakthrough medical technologies. Finally, we listen carefully to the letters written by our academic colleagues to be assured that the candidate will both benefit from and contribute to the success of their classmates and of the program."

Jonathan Rosen, PhD, Director of Professional Studies


Then we asked out first year graduate students: Why did you choose UVA?

"The supportive environment and the friendliness of the students and faculty were unlike any of the other campuses I visited. On my first day here, I already felt like I was part of the UVA BME family."

Wisam Fares, 1st Year PhD Matched to Janes Lab

"From its collegial atmosphere, to its excellence in systems biology research, and to the departmental focus on graduate training, I'm confident I'll be well prepared for a career in the biomedical sciences after leaving UVA. Being integrated into the hospital system, and being so close to patients and medical professionals is also a great reminder of why we work on medical problems!"

Yonathan Aberra, 1st Year PhD Rotating in Civelek, Naegle, Papin Labs

"For me what set UVA apart at BMES and recruitment weekend was a positive energy and the feeling that every interaction I had with a student or professor was sincere. UVA was clearly committed to not only supporting but promoting their students to pursue further knowledge through collaborations, internships and exchange opportunities. Now that I am here I am reminded every day of how I made the right choice and how committed all of us at UVA really are to one another and ourselves."

Julie Leonard-Duke, 1st Year PhD Matched to Peirce-Cottler Lab

"Groundbreaking potential thesis, attentive PI, and a healthy and exciting lab and department culture... I was told to find a school with two of these factors, because finding all three would be impossible. Well joke's on them because I found all three at UVA."

Noah Perry, 1st Year PhD Matched to Civelek Lab

"There is no substitute for the hands-on experience UVA offers. You can't get more tangible than designing solutions to issues you personally witnessed in the clinic. "

Jay Hanckel, 1st year Masters of Engineering student

"Choosing UVA was a no brainer for me giving the unique collaborative atmosphere surrounding the BME department and the exceptional link with the health system."

Ramon Castellanos-Sanchez, 1st Year PhD Matched to Peirce-Cottler Lab

"I chose UVA for the unique research opportunities available as well as the amazing professional development programs available."

Allison McCrady, 1st Year PhD Matched to Blemker Lab

"The environment of students, faculty, and staff made me feel at home and like I belonged here. The perspective of putting women at the forefront in BME and wanting to improve diversity within the department drew me to choose UVA."

Natasha Claxton, 1st Year PhD Rotating in Janes, Gelfand, Highley Labs

"Of all the schools I considered, it was clear that UVA was the most supportive and collaborative. I have been amazed with how people here care about you both personally and professionally."

Mackenzie Grubb, 1st Year PhD Rotating in Price, Caliari, Barker Labs

"UVA ME offers a unique experience in the UVA hospital to set yourself apart in the biomedical field."

Hill Johnson, 1st year Masters of Engineering student

"I chose UVA because of the BME department’s dedication to research focused on clinical translation and collaborations with clinicians."

Colleen Roosa, 1st Year PhD Matched to Griffin Lab

"I chose UVA because the department is both welcoming and collaborative."

Tor Breza, 1st Year PhD Rotating in Price and Christ Labs

"UVA BME MEng has been a terrific choice to pivot my engineering career towards the biomedical industry. The clinical context offered by UVA BME MEng is invaluable for identifying and solving problems that truly exist in the medical setting."

James Bonaffini, 1st Year Masters of Engineering student