The mission of the BME Committee for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (BME DEI Committee) is to nurture and advance a culture in the Department of Biomedical Engineering:

  • where diversity is actively embraced and supported,
  • where the practice of research and education is purposefully anti-racist,
  • where we recognize and overcome prejudice in training and hiring, and
  • where discrimination on the basis of, but not limited to, race, color, gender, sexual orientation and disability, is identified and addressed.

Through continuing education, strategic partnerships, increased mentorship, and community outreach, we strive to create a just and equitable environment from which to advance education and research in science, engineering, and medicine.

Columbia Engineering and the wider University are deeply committed to cultivating a global community of scholars and researchers devoted to academic excellence and the translation of ideas into broad impact. Read a statement from former Dean Mary C. Boyce.

Meet the DEI Committee



Elisa Konofagou












  • Tolu Akinade - Recent Alumni representative
  • Divya Bhansali - MS/PhD representative
  • Jocelyn Chen - Undergraduate representative
  • Pamela Graney - Postdoc representative
  • Jaeseung Hahn - Postdoc representative
  • Kiarra Lavache - Undergraduate representative
  • Imelda Naa Ayorkor Adjei - Undergraduate representative
  • Aala Nasir - Undergraduate representative
  • Kacey Ronaldson-Bouchard - Lab staff representative
  • Somayeh Shahsavarani - Postdoc representative
  • Claire (CV) Sise - PhD representative
  • Gary Stockard Jr. - MS representative
  • Naveed Tavakol - PhD representative
  • Elias Tzoc-Pacheco - Undergraduate representative
  • Joanne Wang - Undergraduate representative

DEI Initiatives

HBCU Partnerships

Tuskegee University

Professor Tommy Vaughan is spearheading our effort to build ties with the College of Engineering at Tuskegee University, a private, historically black university in Tuskegee, Alabama. Tuskegee University was home to the renowned scientist George Washington Carver, a botanist and agricultural scientist who promoted alternative crops to cotton and methods to prevent soil depletion. Professor Vaughan’s grandfather H.A. Vaughan was the county agricultural extension service agent for Macon County and had the honor of supplying many of the seeds, fertilizers and farming implements used by Dr. Carver. Prof. Vaughan and a team of BME faculty and staff are working to build on that ancestral connection.

Professor Tommy Vaughan (BME) and Professor Christopher Boyce (CHEME) and the BME DEI Committee participated in an Engineering Ethics Symposium on October 26, 2020, hosted by Tuskegee University's College of Engineering. This two-hour symposium consisted of a moderated discussion leading to a plan for educational exchange and research collaboration between our two institutions. 

Our Tuskeegee collaboration is off to a great start, with one faculty research collaboration, a BME program development in progress, and we are currently hosting two students with support from TU.

The City College of New York

The City College of New York (CCNY) and Columbia University Department of Biomedical Engineering are collaborating for a new Summer Research Program! Stay tuned for updates.


Combating Anti-Black Racism

Our mission is to engage in research and educational practices that actively combat anti-Black racism. We strive to eliminate the impacts of systemic racism through intentional activities to: best serve minority students during their matriculation at Columbia, promote diversification of our graduate students and faculty, and devise biomedical innovations to address healthcare deficits in underrepresented minority groups.


  1. To create and/or maintain early (K-12) STEM education and identity opportunities
  2. Support students throughout their Columbia matriculation and prepare for post-graduate activities
  3. Create a more diverse graduate applicant pool to increase the number of Black Ph.D. students
  4. Support Ph.D. students/Post-docs through mentorship and early career professional development

For information about this initiative, please contact Dr. Clark Hung.


Addressing Racism: A Call to Action for Higher Education 

Columbia BME faculty Aaron Kyle, Henry Hess, and Elisa Konofagou were awarded the following Seed Grant: INVOLVING COLUMBIA STUDENTS IN ENHANCING EDUCATION EQUITY THROUGH ENGINEERING DESIGN.


As Dr. Kyle's HYPOTHEKids (Hk) Maker Lab continues to expand into schools, we see an opportunity to enhance minority student education by enlisting the help of Columbia University students. The Goals of the proposed work are to:

  • Recruit, train, and place Columbia students (undergraduates and graduates) in the schools where our engineering design process (EDP)-centric courses are taught in order to support the young underrepresented students’ education and foster a culture of education outreach in Columbia students.
  • Create a (virtual and in-person) speaker series in which Columbia students and faculty share their scholarship and STEM journeys with high school students.

This project was funded through the Addressing Racism: A Call to Action for Higher Education initiative of the Office of the Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement

Columbia Community Resources

Affiliate Groups @ Columbia


We want to hear from you! If you have questions, feedback, suggestions, or want to get involved with diversity initiatives at Columbia BME, let us know!


Contact us at [email protected].