Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion (DEI)

We recognize that building a department that has an equitable and inclusive environment is an ongoing, long-term effort that will require collecting information, setting goals, and continually examining our changes over time. We therefore recently expanded our diversity committee’s representation and scope of activities to meet the needs of the Biomedical Engineering Community at Northwestern. This committee has been empowered to develop and implement an action plan that will strengthen the culture of diversity, equity, and inclusion within BME. Below you will find information about some of our current efforts and ideas.

Please note: This is an evolving space. Please help us by sharing your input and thoughts.

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Mission Statement

The critical connection between engineering and societal values can be formed only if representation within our academic community reflects the diversity of our society. We affirm that a diverse and inclusive environment that welcomes all races, genders, sexual orientations, opinions, and other defining characteristics of our identity is the most effective way to build a scholarly community that can change our world for the better. We aim to create a culture of equity and inclusion at the undergraduate, graduate, staff, and faculty levels and to develop leaders who foster such a culture.

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DEI Committee

We aim to have representation at the faculty, staff, graduate, and undergraduate levels. The BME DEI committee members are selected from interested applicants at the end of the academic year.

Committee Members


  • Professor Wendy Murray
  • Professor Malcolm MacIver

Staff Members

  • Michael Okun-Perlin

Postdoctoral Members

  • Cody Dunton

Graduate Student Members

  • Thara Nallamouthu
  • Marsalis Smith
  • María Méndez Santos
  • Kimberly Hemmerling
  • Pouyan Firouzabadi

Undergraduate Student Members

  • Elijah Huang
  • Claire Shen
  • Christopher Woodard

Alumni of the DEI Commitee

  • Professor Evan Scott
  • Professor Neha Kamat
  • Samantha Huddleston
  • Ranya Virk
  • Liliana Wang
  • Peter Kouassi

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Our steps in the first year include:

  1. Forming a diversity committee with representation from students, postdocs, staff, and faculty — Completed
  2. Soliciting feedback from all members of our community - Completed 
  3. Developing a three-year action plan that will be posted as soon as available

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Past and Current Projects:

  • Hosted  department wide town hall dialogues  Understanding the Black Engineering Student Perspective (Nov/2020), Women in STEM (Feb/2021), Action Plan Update Townhall (03/2021), AAPI Experiences with Racism and Solidarity (04/2021).
  • Created and polled the BME department with our first Climate Survey. Our executive summary is now posted. After our action plan update townhall, we're working on taking the feedback receiving and laying out and finalizing the plan. We plan on reaching out to various NU administrators to discuss our goals and action plan.
  • BME Faculty 2020 Fall Retreat was centered on improving DEI within the department.
  • Projects we're currently planning: Intersectionality Dialogue and Bystander Training. 

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TGS Diversity Peer Mentor Program

The Graduate School's Diversity Peer Mentor Program is designed to help first-year, diverse PhD students become acclimated to Northwestern. TGS Diversity Peer Mentors will serve as an additional resource to incoming PhD students and provide support, encouragement, and information as our new students embark on this new academic journey. Learn more by visiting their website here.

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Ideas for Future Initiatives

  • Developing BME recruitment initiatives for BIPOC undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, and faculty
  • Developing a peer mentoring plan
  • Developing a journal club aimed at hearing experiences from BIPOC members of NU and discussing journal articles
  • Faculty training

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Submit Concerns Anonymously to the BME DEI Committee

We welcome your feedback and comments as well as concerns. While the DEI committee is working on their action plan, they're actively working with the faculty and Chair of the department to determine an appropriate reporting system for concerns. At this time, it is still being finalized.  While we continue to finalize this protocol, we encourage all members of the BME department to utilize the BIRT reporting system down below if you have a concern you'd like to submit.  We appreciate your patience.


Reporting Sexual Misconduct and/or Gender Discrimination

Please note that for issues of sexual misconduct and/or gender discrimination, faculty members and administrators are mandated reporters and may need to share incidents with the Office of Equity and Title IX Administration.

View resources for confidential support for issues of sexual misconduct and/or gender discrimination

Reporting Bias or Hate Incidents

The Bias Incident Response Team (BIRT) is committed to creating a proactive response to instances of hate and bias. When a student reports a bias/hate incident through RespectNU one of the BIRT members will support the student, connect them with the appropriate resources, and follow-up with them until the situation has been resolved. BIRT is a non-punitive resource that gives students agency in addressing incidences of bias with options to remain anonymous or not be contacted about a report you submit. In a case requiring investigative units, BIRT passes the report over the Office of Equity with the same level of anonymity requested by the student.

The BME DEI committee endorses and encourages our student members to reach out to this resource, especially for issues with other students. BIRT will not take any actions without your permission.

Please report any bias or hate related incidents you observe on campus to Respect NU.

Explore other options for reporting, including in-person appointments

Reporting Discrimination and Harassment

To report any issues of discrimination or harassment, you may also contact Northwestern's Office of Equity or submit concerns through the Office of Equity's online reporting system.

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Things We Support

We affirm that Black lives and Black minds matter.

The killing of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, and many others has led to nationwide calls for an end to structural racism. Structural racism has touched almost every field, from healthcare to the workforce to education. The demonstrations taking place across the nation, including here in Chicago, clearly indicate that we at Northwestern and within the BME Department need to listen, learn, and drive social change. For this reason, we have created this website to help learn about our community’s needs, share our progress, and help foster a greater sense of belonging.

We affirm that promoting gender equality is important to our department.

Among the US News and World Report top 25 graduate engineering programs, the McCormick School of Engineering at Northwestern has the highest percent of women pursuing a PhD.

We affirm that the LGBTQIA+ community are respected, welcomed, and celebrated.
A person’s sexuality/gender identity are integral parts of identity and need to be treated with the same regard as other facets of identity like race, ethnicity, religion, etc.  We celebrate the passing of the Equality Act in the House of Representatives and we hope to continue to the fight for equality, equity, and inclusivity of the LGBTQIA+ community here at Northwestern.

 We affirm that Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander lives and minds matter.
The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened racism against the AAPI/APIDA community resulting in attacks throughout the nation and even the murder of eight people in Georgia. We stand by these communities and will continue to support and advocate for them in our efforts at Northwestern.

View the McCormick School of Engineering's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion