Member Spotlight - Jamal Lewis
BMES wants to “turn the spotlight” on members who make an impact in the biomedical engineering field. If you are interested in being highlighted or nominating another individual for a BMES member spotlight, send an email to Katherine@bmes.org.
You’ve been nominated for a member spotlight because of your work with Diversity and Inclusion. How do you work to improve gender and racial diversity in biomedical engineering?
I’ve been an assistant professor in Biomedical Engineering (BME) at the University of California, Davis (UCD) since August 2015. In this position, I’m fortunate to be able to initiate and promote efforts to strengthen diversity in BME. As a Florida A&M University alum, I’m particularly pleased about the Molecular and Cell Biology Graduate Admissions Pathways Program (MCBGAP) which is part of the UCD Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Initiative. I worked with other professors in UCD Biology to develop and solicit funding for this program. We invite underrepresented students annually to participate in summer research in various Biomedical Science and Engineering labs across campus. I previously hosted a FAMU student in my lab and I’m looking forward to hosting another student from Xavier University this summer. Moreover, through this program we have attracted 3 students from underrepresented groups to complete their graduate studies at UC Davis. I’m also proud to be involved in the UCD Postbaccalaureate Research Education Program (PREP). Akin to the UCD HBCU initiative, this program aims to improve diversity in STEM fields by helping the disabled, women and other minority students to prepare for graduate study during their gap year after undergrad. Finally (and more specific to biomedical engineering), I’m currently working with colleagues to develop a program for mentoring graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds in UCD Engineering. These efforts are critical and I believe they have made a small impact. But, I hope to do much more on this front in the future, as members of underrepresented STEM groups tend to “leave the pipeline” at much higher rates than others.
How does your BMES membership bring value to you and your career?
There are three major reasons I renew my BMES membership every year. The first is knowledge – BMES annual conference is an important venue for learning about the latest biomedical research and advances in technology, which gives me a competitive advantage in the field. Secondly, networking – BMES is the perfect forum to make national and global connections that bolster your professional and personal goals. I have made some long-lasting friendships at BMES. I return every year to hang out with them, as this is typically the only opportunity to see them each year. Finally, career development – the BMES ‘Meet the faculty candidate’ session launched me into an academic position. I would encourage early career members to seek out the many opportunities for career development and professional growth that are provided by BMES.
Give us a fun fact about you!
I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan. I have read all the books and have been watching the HBO show every Sunday from Season 1 Episode 1. When it ends in a few weeks I’ll have some serious withdrawal issues. But, I’m prepping for it – I just purchased “Fire & Blood: 300 Years Before A Game of Throne” because “what is dead may never die”. 😉