Illinois BMES student chapter earns Commendable Achievement Award


Huan Song

Illinois bioengineering attendees at the 2021 BMES Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. 
Illinois bioengineering attendees at the 2021 BMES Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida. 

The Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has been nationally recognized with the 2021 BMES Student Chapter Commendable Achievement Award. This award celebrates the student chapter's outstanding contributions to the biomedical engineering field through leadership, commitment, growth, integrity, and ingenuity. 

BMES has been a pillar of the undergraduate bioengineering community at Illinois. The chapter organizes social and professional events throughout the year for its members - forming a vibrant community of students and alumni who uplift each other. 

"I’m very proud of the accomplishments of our BMES student chapter and it comes as no surprise that their hard work and dedication is being recognized nationally," said Mark A. Anastasio, bioengineering professor and department head. "They maintain an impressive calendar of events for their growing membership and the opportunities they provide their members for professional development, technical workshops, and social activities is impressive!"

The pandemic was especially hard-hitting for many university students. BMES was able to adapt in-person events to include virtual and socially distanced opportunities for students to feel supported. 

"During the pandemic, the leadership worked hard to focus on highly engaging activities that could be held virtually to continue to build and foster community," said bioengineering professor Jenny Amos, who serves as the faculty chapter advisor. 

Virtual and adapted events included game nights over Zoom, coffee chats with professors Holly Golecki, Paul Jensen and Karin Jensen, picnics and outdoor crafting workshops.

The student chapter also continued to offer mentoring opportunities for its members. Launched in 2019, the professional mentoring program pairs undergraduate students with chapter alumni to assist with students' career development while fostering relationships with the alumni network. Students also participated in social mentoring where underclassmen are paired with upperclassmen to receive guidance around course selection, research and campus life. 

BMES provides unique opportunities for members through industry and professional development events. Representatives from multiple companies were invited to present and recruit during general meetings and these presentations were often led by chapter alumni. Companies included emerging and established names in the bioengineering field such as Psyonic, AbbVie, Procter & Gamble, Medline, among others. 

"Although a vast majority of our events were hosted virtually, we were able to host general meetings with speakers from prosthetic, pharmaceutical, medical device, and consumer goods companies as well as several graduate and medical schools," said Taylor Wills, 2021 BMES President. "We hosted technical workshops covering areas such as circuits, CAD, ImageJ, Python, and Matlab and had members create design projects for the university’s Engineering Open House."

Outside of the university, BMES has a strong commitment to serving the local community through volunteer work. Students created at-home science activities for the Champaign Public Library, hosted the fifth annual Bioengineering Your Impact event for high school students, volunteered with the Carle Foundation Hospital and participated in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk. 

"All of these activities helped to keep our BIOE community strong and connected," said Amos. 

Chapter Executive Officers 2020-2021
President: Caroline Fatina
Vice President: Joy Chen 
Treasurer: Liz Troy
Secretary: Jackie Way
Industrial Relations Director: Taylor Wills
Technical Director: Jairaj Narendran
Outreach Chairs: Grace Huberty
Social Chair: Maddie Blaauw and Sonja Gurbani

Chapter Executive Officers 2021-2022
President: Taylor Wills
Vice President: Grace Huberty
Treasurer: Lucy Nash
Secretary: Amartya Dave
Industrial Relations Director: Iksha Handa
Technical Director: Drashti Sikligar
Outreach Chair: Emily Murray
Social Chair: Sonja Gurbani
Director of Recruitment: Lourdes Garcia