UF Biomedical Engineering Receives 2023 BMES Diversity Lecture Award

The J. Crayton Pruitt Family Department of Biomedical Engineering has received the 2023 Biomedical Engineering Society’s (BMES) Diversity Lecture Award

The BMES Diversity Lecture Award honors an individual, project, organization, or institution for outstanding contributions to improving gender and racial diversity in biomedical engineering. The award is given for a broad range of activities, including research, education and services that improve diversity in biomedical engineering industry and/or academia. Only one award is given annually. 

Within UF BME, achieving gender and racial equity has been realized through a deliberate, multifaceted approach to recruiting, guiding, and retaining a diverse array of team members.

  • Holistic Faculty Recruitment
  • Proactive Trainee Recruitment
  • Creating an Inclusive Environment
  • Mentoring, Professional Development, and Retention
  • Communicating Excellence and DEI
“We are honored to be a recipient of the BMES Diversity Award, and I am so appreciative of emeritus Dean Abernathy and members of the External Advisory Board who nominated the department for this prestigious recognition,” said Dr. Christine Schmidt, Distinguished Professor & J. Crayton Pruitt Family Endowed Chair and former Department Chair. “Our faculty, students and staff should be proud of the work they are doing. We have a strong passion and determination to drive meaningful change through diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

UF BME currently encompasses 28 faculty members, around 260 undergraduates, about 170 graduate students, and 17 department staff. Since 2013, under the leadership of Dr. Christine Schmidt, and with unwavering support from emeritus Dean Cammy Abernathy, the department has recruited 22 faculty members. The representation of women faculty has increased from 2 to 15 (now comprising 52% of the faculty), while Black and Hispanic faculty have grown from 1 to 6 (now accounting for 21% of HMC faculty). Notably, 60% of UF BME faculty promoted to Associate Professor and 33% promoted to Full Professor have been women or historically marginalized communities (HMC).

Furthermore, UF BME has substantially elevated the enrollment of women and HMC graduate students, with women constituting 50% and HMC students representing 33% of current Ph.D. candidates. A diverse staff (62% women, 14% HMC) and senior advisors (external advisory board; 21% women, 32% HMC) also support UF BME. The department’s commitment to diversity extends across its programs, including its distinguished leadership seminar series (45% women, 10% HMC) and regular seminar series (72% women, 23% HMC, in the last year).

A pivotal objective for UF BME has been fostering a strong sense of community through strategies that endorse inclusion, respect, transparency, and empowerment. This has entailed hosting numerous academic, networking, and awareness events to unite the BME community. Additionally, UF BME has embraced a team leadership model and robust committee structure, fostering an engaged culture for all team members. Strategies to cultivate diversity and inclusivity include integrating DEI into meetings and events, ensuring diverse representation throughout programs, and empowering the UF BME Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) faculty and student committees through financial support, thereby promoting diversity-centered activities. DEI principles are infused into the formal BME curriculum, such as “Inclusive Design for BME” in introductory and design courses.

The department has introduced multi-dimensional initiatives to foster diversity and equity across all levels and establish an inclusive community that advocates for diversity. UF BME’s faculty makeup, which reflects the demographics of the US population, is a significant triumph. Moreover, UF BME faculty and students extend their impact beyond the university to share best practices nationwide, aiming to see diversity mirrored across all BME programs, and potentially, across the entire field of engineering.

Department officials will accept the award at the BMES Annual Meeting in Seattle, October 11-14, 2023.