On December 4, the Department of Biomedical Engineering welcomed students, faculty, staff, leadership, and friends of the department to take part in an event at the Hill Student Center recognizing the first 40 years of BME as an official department at UAB.

""Several university leaders — both those in place now and those from the past — spoke at the event, beginning with Tomeka Wilson, Administrative Director, Department of BME, providing a welcome. Linda Lucas, Ph.D.UAB’s first BME doctoral graduate who went on to serve as the department’s chair, the School of Engineering’s dean, and UAB provost — spoke about her career coming up through the department and her pride in watching it grow.

Timothy Wick, Ph.D., Dean and Professor, School of Engineering recognized individuals from the program’s beginnings, including Dr. Joe Appleton, director of the Division of Engineering (before it was a school) who later became the first dean of the School of Engineering, in 1971. Dr. James Woodward, who established BME as a separate academic department, was also recognized. Wick recognized Dr. Louis Sheppard, the department’s first chair, for growing the department as a “home for promising engineers from all over the world.”

Since its inception, Wick noted, the department has expanded collaborations with the schools of Medicine, Dentistry, and Engineering to build to build world-renowned programs in medical imaging, biomedical implants, orthopedic and dental implants, biomechanics, cardiac electrophysiology and others.

Some of the department’s earliest faculty recruits were mentioned including Ernest Stokely, Ph.D., Jack Lemons, Ph.D., and Raymond Ideker, Ph.D.

Tika Benveniste, Ph.D., Senior Vice Dean of Basic Sciences in the School of Medicine, addressed the department’s present state. She was followed by Dr. Jianyi “Jay” Zhang, Department Chair, who addressed the audience looking to the future of the department with growth in areas of biomechanics, imaging and cardiac electrophysiology, among others. Zhang highlighted a desire to promote BME visibility, to grow the department’s undergraduate programs, increase community outreach through STEM programs, open labs, and active participation by researchers in international conferences related to their fields.

The evening was a culmination of decades of growth and expansion by the department, and a celebration by those who have helped make it one of the best in the nation.

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