Engineering Diversity

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  • RECOGNIZING EXCELLENCE
  • TRACKING PROGRESS
  • MENTORING
  • BUILDING EVIDENCE
  • WHAT WORKS
  • RESOURCES

ENGINEERING DIVERSITY

ENGINEERING DIVERSITY

Biomedical Engineering workforce diversity, capitalizing on the full spectrum of skills, talents, and viewpoints, is essential for solving complex human health challenges. The participation of underrepresented individuals in engineering and medicine is a critical issue affecting our nation’s health and the future of research. The urgent national challenge to diversify the scientific workforce calls for research universities, academic medical centers, and national stakeholders to take action.

Women receive only 37% of Ph.D.’s in Biomedical Engineering. (2016)

The American Society for Engineering Education 

 

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African Americans make up less than 2% of tenured/tenure-track faculty in biomedical engineering (2016).

The American Society for Engineering Education

The gender wage gap is within 3% for women in biomedical engineering.

–2016 American Community Survey, US Census Bureau

Prophylactic Drug Delivery System for COVID-19
Heather Sheardown | May 22, 2020

Prophylactic Drug Delivery System for COVID-19
Heather Sheardown | May 22, 2020

The Heather Sheardown lab (McMaster University, Canada) is home to an interdisciplinary team of scientists and trainees with expertise in ophthalmology, polymer and biomaterial engineering, chemistry, pharmaceutical formulation and drug delivery, animal/ex-vivo/in-vitro models of disease and drug delivery, early stage material design and synthesis, and synthetic method scalability optimization.

As the availability of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine is still far off, there is an immediate global need for prophylactic prevention strategies, particularly for vulnerable populations including seniors and frontline workers. The Sheardown lab has developed a mucoadhesive polymeric micelle that allows for the encapsulation of a range of therapeutics, providing local, controlled delivery to mucosal surfaces. This technology overcomes traditional solubility concerns, allowing formulations at higher drug concentrations. Its mucosal binding significantly reduces dosing frequency, increases local bioavailability and improves clinical efficacy. Developed and validated for safety and efficacy in the eye, this system is now being repurposed for the mucosa of the respiratory tract, formulated as a nasal spray or inhaled aerosol, incorporating two treatments that are currently under study internationally: hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) and remdisivir.

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UC Davis engineering projects fight COVID-19
Cristina Davis | May 20, 2020

UC Davis engineering projects fight COVID-19
Cristina Davis | May 20, 2020

With new seed grants from the UC Davis Office of Research’s COVID-19 Research Accelerator Funding Track (CRAFT), three teams of UC Davis engineers are applying their expertise toward the pandemic response to help people become safer, healthier and better-tested.

Mechanical and aerospace engineering (MAE) professor and chair Cristina Davis and chemical engineering (CHE) faculty Priya Shah, Karen McDonald and Roland Faller received $25,000 project awards for research that rapidly generates new insights about COVID-19, while biological and agricultural engineering (BAE) professor Gang Sun received a $5,000 small award to apply current research to the pandemic response. These proposals were chosen out from more than 100 applications and were awarded with the expectation that these projects will lead to larger collaborations.

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Natalia Trayanova to use machine learning to predict heart damage in COVID-19 victims
Natalia Trayanova | May 18, 2020

Natalia Trayanova to use machine learning to predict heart damage in COVID-19 victims
Natalia Trayanova | May 18, 2020

Johns Hopkins researchers recently received a $195,000 Rapid Response Research grant from the National Science Foundation to, using machine learning, identify which COVID-19 patients are at risk of adverse cardiac events such as heart failure, sustained abnormal heartbeats, heart attacks, cardiogenic shock and death.

Increasing evidence of COVID-19’s negative impacts on the cardiovascular system highlights a great need for identifying COVID-19 patients at risk for heart problems, the researchers say. However, no such predictive capabilities currently exist.

“This project will provide clinicians with early warning signs and ensure that resources are allocated to patients with the greatest need,” says Natalia Trayanova, the Murray B. Sachs Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at The Johns Hopkins University Schools of Engineering and Medicine and the project’s principal investigator.

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“Microbubbles” and ultrasound bombard cancer cells in mice
Katherine Ferrara | May 14, 2020

“Microbubbles” and ultrasound bombard cancer cells in mice
Katherine Ferrara | May 14, 2020

In the lab of Katherine Ferrara, PhD, bubbles spell trouble for cancer cells in mice — and maybe one day for humans, too.

Specifically, Ferrara, a Stanford Medicine professor of radiology, is using “microbubbles” to damage the structure of cancer cells and cause them to die. The tiny gas-filled spheres are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and are typically used to enhance vasculature imaging in patients. However, Ferrara and her team have repurposed them for a new type of targeted cancer therapy guided by ultrasound.

The new treatment platform is designed to deliver a one-two punch. First, the microbubbles attack cancer cells, then an additional therapeutic agent, such as a gene, beckons immune cells to further pummel the tumor.

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Researchers to develop AI to help diagnose, understand COVID-19 in lung images
Maryellen Giger | May 6, 2020

Researchers to develop AI to help diagnose, understand COVID-19 in lung images
Maryellen Giger | May 6, 2020

As physicians and researchers grapple with a rapidly-spreading, deadly and novel disease, they need all the help they can get. Many centers are exploring whether artificial intelligence can help fight COVID-19, extracting knowledge from complex and rapidly growing data on how to best diagnose and treat patients.

One University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory collaboration believes that AI can be a helpful clinical partner for a particularly important kind of medical data: images. Because severe cases of COVID-19 most often present as a respiratory illness, triggering severe pneumonia in patients, chest X-rays and thoracic CT scans are a potential exam. With a grant from the new c3.ai Digital Transformation Institute, computer-aided diagnosis expert Maryellen Giger will lead an effort to develop new AI tools that use these medical images to diagnose, monitor and help plan treatment for COVID-19 patients.

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Not One More Generation: Women in Science Take on Sexual Harassment
ASBMB Today

Not One More Generation: Women in Science Take on Sexual Harassment
ASBMB Today

I was driven out of science by a harasser in the 1980s.”

Coming from a woman who has since helped to found a scientific society, served as director of the Genetics Society of America and presented her research on sexual harassment to a 2018 National Academies panel, it is a surprising statement. But Sherry Marts left academia after finishing her Ph.D. at Duke and never went back.

2018 has been a banner year for confronting sexual harassment in science. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine published a report on the high prevalence of harassment of women in science, and the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation are updating their sexual harassment policies. It appears that science might be catching up with the #MeToo movement, which has raised awareness of workplace sexual harassment. However, critics say that large institutions are moving too incrementally and could do much more.

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Why we’re editing women scientists onto Wikipedia
Nature

Why we’re editing women scientists onto Wikipedia
Nature

Marie Curie is one of the most famous women in science. But her first page on Wikipedia was shared with her husband — until someone pointed out that, perhaps, her scientific contributions were notable enough to warrant her own biography.

That’s the beauty of Wikipedia. It is the fifth most popular website in the world and notches up more than 32 million views a day. A community of volunteer editors collaboratively edit, update and add content to democratize access to a common and constantly updating collection of knowledge. But as with any democracy, results are determined by those who choose to participate. Who edits Wikipedia — and the biases they carry with them — matters.

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Closing diversity gaps in patenting is essential to innovation economy
The Hill

Closing diversity gaps in patenting is essential to innovation economy
The Hill

In 1871, Margaret Knight earned a patent for inventing a brown paper bag with a flat bottom, the same model that is used in most grocery stores across the country today. More than a century later, African American inventor Lonnie Johnson received a patent for his Super Soaker water gun, a toy that has generated more than $1 billion in sales and has been among the top 20 best selling toys in the world every year since 1991.

The commercial success these inventors enjoyed was based on a strong and open patent system. Except for individuals held in slavery, the U.S. patent system has always welcomed all inventors by awarding patents regardless of race, gender, or economic status. It is an essential engine of innovation. Economic activity from patents in the United States is estimated at more than $8 trillion and intellectual property industries directly and indirectly support 30 percent of all U.S. employment.

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New analysis of funding trends offers encouraging news for female investigators—with caveats
Science

New analysis of funding trends offers encouraging news for female investigators—with caveats
Science

Once female scientists receive a major research project grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), their funding futures are quite similar to those of their male peers, a new study reports. That suggests gender represents a small, and shrinking, barrier to success in a biomedical science career, the authors argue, and it emphasizes the importance of encouraging women to apply for grants in the first place. Yet these statistics belie the significant systemic hurdles that persist for many women, others say.

The study helps illustrate where work remains to be done to truly make opportunities in science equal for men and women, says Donna Ginther, a professor of economics at the University of Kansas in Lawrence who studies the scientific workforce, and who wasn’t involved with the study. “The more evidence we have about where [bias] is happening and where it’s not happening in the pipeline, the better we’ll be able to address those problems.”

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Bias, Diversity, Backlash, Manifestos, and Rebuttals
Code Like A Girl

Bias, Diversity, Backlash, Manifestos, and Rebuttals
Code Like A Girl

Have you ever been in a meeting where a colleague says “I’m a great supporter of gender equality, but I’m totally opposed to quotas!” Or, “I believe in diversity, but I won’t stand for positive discrimination.” Maybe you felt a bit troubled by such statements, thinking: that sounds fair, but somehow I don’t think it is… how do I rebut this?

Bias is omnipresent in our society, and some of us are keenly aware of rampant bias in sectors like technology, engineering and politics. Efforts to thwart the effects of bias in communities and institutions prompt a spectrum of diversity initiatives. Many times these lead to backlash. It’s been just a year since the memo “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber” spread through the company’s internal channels, then became public. Yet, another wrangle is already blasting online with the article “Why Women Don’t Code,” by a university lecturer. What do we do when privileged individuals continue to turn a blind eye on the injustices around them? They insist on points like “women are less likely to choose computer science,” and that it’s just due to natural differences.

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