Chair's message

Dear BME Alumni, Colleagues, and Friends,

Last academic year marked the twentieth anniversary of the creation of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Tufts. We celebrated this occasion through events in which we relived the department’s history and appreciated how much the department has grown, expanded its academic and research profile, and generated a large network of alumni over these twenty years. Everyone in the BME department contributed content for a time capsule in which we have collected a history of the first twenty years of the department, a snapshot of the department’s people and programs in AY22-23, lab group descriptions and pictures, selected publications, tangible lab artifacts, a message from current students to future students, a list of all graduates in AY22-23, etc. This time capsule was sealed in May 2023, to be passed from BME Chair to BME Chair, and it will be reopened twenty years from now, in AY42-43. Going through this process, we had a chance to fully appreciate the trajectory and growth of the department, which today counts 12 full-time core faculty members, 11 research faculty, 2 Professors of the Practice, and a number of part-time lecturers and affiliate faculty, as well as about 170 undergraduate students, about 70 MS students, and about 60 PhD students.

The department’s academic programs have grown this year by the addition of new undergraduate minors in Cellular Agriculture and in Embedded Systems, a new Master’s program in Biophotonics, and new Graduate Certificates in Cellular Agriculture and in Biophotonics.

Last year saw the retirement of Professor Mark Cronin-Golomb, who was one of the four founding faculty members of the BME Department in 2002. Mark joined Tufts in 1986 as an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering and performed research in optical tweezers, atomic force microscopy, and nonlinear optics of biopolymers. Mark now has Professor Emeritus status; we are grateful for his many contributions to the department and we are happy that he still participates in department events, seminar series, etc.

Last year, we welcomed Assistant Professors Nisha Iyer and Juan Gnecco, and this year we welcome our very first teaching faculty member, Assistant Teaching Professor Angela Lai. Angela is in charge of restructuring and coordinating the Senior Capstone Project for our BME undergraduate major, as well as teaching courses on engineering design and technical communications. We are very happy that Angela joined our BME family, and we already see the positive impact of her activities on our undergraduate curriculum and our expanding connections with industry.

The department is also very happy to welcome Professor Shelly Peyton, currently at UMass Amherst, who will become the new BME Department Chair on July 1, 2024. Shelly’s outstanding record of research accomplishments in biomaterials and cancer bioengineering is nicely complemented by her demonstrated efforts toward diversity and inclusion, and her active citizenship and leadership roles in the profession. We all look forward to Shelly’s leadership for further advancing the growth and success of the department.

Our continued efforts toward diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice are facilitated by Mafalda Gueta, Associate Director of Diversity & Inclusion Programs, who works closely with our department and is an invaluable resource for our students, staff, and faculty. He supports the activities of the BME Department’s DEI Committee, and coordinates them with School-wide initiatives and with programs administered by the Center for STEM Diversity.

I have been honored to serve as the BME Interim Chair during the transition period until Professor Peyton takes over as Department Chair in July 2024. The Tufts BME family of students, alumni, staff, and faculty is truly exceptional. The academic and research environment of the BME Department and the School of Engineering is vibrant, and the close connections to the other Tufts Schools (Arts & Sciences, Medical, Dental, Veterinary, Nutrition, Law and Diplomacy) allow for broad opportunities of interdisciplinary initiatives at all levels. I am proud of being a member of this Department, and I know that it will be in very good hands when Shelly becomes BME Chair.

Best wishes,
Sergio Fantini
Professor and Interim Chair