In June 2015, New York state announced it had approved Cornell’s request for an undergraduate major in biomedical engineering (BME). Shortly thereafter, students founded Cornell’s inaugural undergraduate chapter of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES).
Notably, all 11 members of its executive board are women.
“I think it’s awesome that we’re all female, but it wasn’t intentional,” said Jordan Harrod ’18, co-founder and co-president of the chapter, with Tina Jing ’18.
Other e-board members: Crystal Lee ’19, vice-president; Margaret Hale ’18, treasurer; Riona Reeves ’19, secretary; Hannah Childs ’18, academic chair; Julia Telischi ’18, outreach chair; Shweta Modi ’19, social chair; Alice Mary Yan ’19, publicity chair; and Elizabeth Weiss ’18 and Crystal Zhao ’20, professional development chairs. Membership in the chapter hovers around 60.
While not surprising to Harrod, the fact that the society is guided by women is still noteworthy.
“We go to events or talk to freshman girls who are interested in engineering and might not be in the College of Engineering,” she said. “They might be in Arts and Science or CALS, where they don’t necessarily see a lot of female engineers … . You can go to them and say, ‘Yes, as a woman, you can do this.’”
Harrod said the chapter brings members together as a community, keeps them informed about what’s going on in the department and advocates on their behalf.
Another big piece is outreach, she said.
“We’re also going into the community and talking about science and research, and having conversations about what recent developments in science and engineering mean for the average person,” Harrod said.
- Tom Fleischman