November Feature: BMES Interview

This month, one of our Cabinet Members, Benjamin Kerner, sat down with the President of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), Adiba Chowdhury, to showcase their work at Stony Brook. The Biomedical Engineering Society is dedicated to promoting Biomedical Engineering in the hopes it will become a more tangible and approachable field to undergraduates.

B: What it your role in the organization and how did you get involved?

A: I am president of the organization and I got involved my freshman year.  I basically went to a couple of meetings that they were having, and I was one of four people that showed up at the time. Since the club was so small at the time, I got to really interact with the e-board and get to know them.  Since I was one of the only people that attended, and I was looking for a way to get more involved, I joined e-board for the following year. My sophomore year I did Public Relations, last year I was treasurer, and then this year I became president.

B: What are some things and events that your organization offers undergrads?

A: We like to hold large scale events when it comes to social events and professional development and some smaller scale events for other things. On the professional side of things, we’ll have people come from the industry to talk about what you can do with a Biomedical Engineering degree. For example, we had a patent law attorney come in and talk about IP and things like that, which is more geared towards the people who want to do startups. We also have industry panels during which we’ll have people coming from companies like Sartorius to talk about their positions and how they got there. We also do tours at Brookhaven National Laboratory, which is about half an hour away. The main purpose of these events is to familiarize our students with what BME is about and all its different aspects.

We’ll also have different social events so students can get to know faculty in a more relaxed environment, like our student-faculty luncheon. On the academic side, we have faculty come in and do lectures, or have undergraduates and graduate students present their research. We also have our journal club, during which we dissect and discuss a primary research article.

Of course we do outreach as well. We’ll go to schools and teach little kids about bioelectricity and electricity in your body, and show them our electromyogram machine, with which we can do EMG arm wrestling. So it’s very interactive and is a good way of getting even the youngest crowds interested in what we’re doing.

B: Awesome.  Why do you feel your organization is important to the undergraduate experience?

A: Well I’m biased, but I think it’s very important because I know for a fact that as a student myself, coming in, I had… I was a very bitter freshman, I did not want to be here and I was a commuter. I didn’t know that many people and I think that in general, organizations on campus are all important in the same sense that they bring people together and they allow you to meet new people and feel like you belong on campus. More specifically to BMES, I think that we’re a really good way for students to understand what BME is and because the department is so involved with what we do as an organization, and we’re so well connected with the department, it’s a really good way to not only generally understand the field but also personally have a relationships with the faculty advisors, director of the program and all of the professors. We help students get into research. Students have also gotten internships from our industry related events. So why not? You’re here, so if you come to our meetings, you will benefit. And if all else fails, we have free food so…

B: What is the best way for undergraduates to get involved in your organization?

A: I think the best way would just be to sign up to our mailing list, because we send out weekly emails that include all of our events. We’re probably one of the most active clubs on campus.  Just this week we have two events, next week we have three, and we’re always collaborating with different groups so we’re always having events.  So the best way to stay on top of all the stuff that we’re doing is to basically get our emails because we include everything in there.  We also do have a Facebook page and things like that so as long as you’re notified of the events, it’s just a matter of showing up and you’re an active member.  

B: And the mailing list will help with e-board and stuff like that kind of thing too?

A: Oh yeah, absolutely. So as far as e-board, if someone wanted to get more involved, what we like to look for are students who have ideas of their own.  So the way that we work is we have our main e-board, which is our president and vice president, treasury, and secretary. And then we have an extended e-board.  For our extended board, we have different chair positions like our social chair, our academic chair, our journal club person, and then we do workshops and things like that.  So basically, the way that we decide who’s going to be on our extended board is A) through if they’ve attended events themselves and they’ve shown interest in coming to our events and B) if they have their own ideas on what they would want to see in the future and if they have innovative ideas. For example, someone that we took on this year wanted to do a workshop with mathematical modeling and things like that, and I don’t know if you’re familiar with Dr. Balazsi of the BME department, but she works with him and do some sort of a workshop with that. And so, if someone comes to us with ideas like that then we’re more than open to taking them on to watch them make those ideas a reality.

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