Zoe Berg, Photo Editor

In an email addressed to biomedical engineering majors early this month, newly-appointed Biomedical Engineering Department chair James Duncan announced that professor Lawrence Staib will take over as director of undergraduate studies for the remainder of the semester. 

Duncan was appointed as chair of the department in December, leaving a vacancy in the director of undergraduate studies slot. Staib, who per Duncan’s email has served as associate DUS for “several years now,” conducts research in biomedical image analysis, machine learning and related clinical applications. Duncan also specializes in bioimaging research, particularly in diagnostic radiology. Both professors hold appointments in the radiology and biomedical imaging department at the Yale School of Medicine.

“I look forward to seeing Dr. Staib now as he is taking over as the director of undergraduate studies to carry on from where Dr. Duncan has left,” said Francisca Melina Tibo, a senior administrative assistant in the department. “We are looking forward to a new chairman and the new DUS … [and] to new things to come to the department.” 

Since a DUS must be reappointed each year, Staib’s appointment is specifically for spring 2022, but he has potential for renewal in subsequent academic years.

Staib described his new role as a student-centric one. 

“I meet a lot with students,” Staib told the News. “That’s probably the number one thing, from freshmen trying to decide is BME right for me … to trying to decide about senior projects, to try and decide about what happens after Yale.”

Staib added that his responsibilities as DUS also include meeting with his counterparts in other departments a few times a semester and coordinating with seniors before graduation to make sure “all the checkboxes are checked on all their records.”

Duncan will serve at least through spring 2024, a total of five semesters. He is taking over from fellow biomedical engineering professor Jay Humphrey, who held the role for two three-year terms.

Duncan told the News that his responsibilities as chair differ from those of his prior position as DUS in that he focuses more “on the big picture,” with an emphasis on faculty needs as opposed to the student needs that Staib discussed. 

“The undergraduate and graduate student needs are certainly a key part of the chair’s role, but now they’re communicated through the DUS and the [director of graduate studies],” Duncan said. 

Duncan also discussed ongoing efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in the department. He specifically described a special committee chaired by professor Kathryn Miller-Jensen that works to identify specific ways to increase inclusion and “build more community” among biomedical engineering students and staff alike.

The department will also be celebrating its 20th anniversary next year, so Duncan is working with other department members to brainstorm ways of celebrating, from alumni events to possible retreats.

“I think there’s a lot of excitement about how we really do some of these things that we talk about all the time better, including being more inclusive and things like seminars and retreats and future planning,” Duncan said. “There’s a lot of views on lots of things. And that’s appropriate, that’s a healthy community — it means that people are engaged. So I think that’s the challenge, and if there’s a worry, it’s just making sure we’re listening to everybody appropriately.”

Yale’s Biomedical Engineering Department was founded in 2003.

ANIKA SETH
Anika Seth writes about admissions, financial aid and alumni as well as diversity, equity and inclusion at Yale. She also lays out the weekly print edition of the News as an editor of the production desk and is co-chair of Diversity & Inclusion. Anika previously covered STEM at Yale, particularly new facilities projects and investments. Originally from the D.C. Metro area, Anika is a sophomore in Branford College double majoring in biomedical engineering and women's, gender and sexuality studies.