Beth Meyerand, professor of medical physics and biomedical engineering, has been named director of the Science and Medicine Graduate Research Scholars (SciMed GRS) program. In this role, Meyerand will lead the program’s efforts to enhance the graduate school experience and community for underrepresented graduate scholars and to improve recruitment and retention of these students.
“I’m excited to have this opportunity to make a significant, positive difference in the lives of SciMed GRS students,” says Meyerand, who begins the position on April 1. “I’ve seen the enormous benefit the program has made in the lives of the GRS students who have graduated from my own lab. The program is so much more than just a stipend. It gives students a sense of community, and a support system, both of which are critically important at a campus like UW–Madison, which is not as diverse as we’d like it to be.”
Meyerand has been a faculty member at UW–Madison for 20 years, with joint appointments in the Department of Medical Physics in the School of Medicine and Public Health (SMPH) and the Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) in the College of Engineering (CoE). Her area of research is diagnostic imaging, with the goal of developing technologies and methods to visualize structure and function, and to translate these methods to routine clinical care.
Over the years, Meyerand has held numerous leadership and service positions that have given her experience in cross-unit administration as well as supporting underrepresented groups, including serving as BME chair and directing the department’s graduate program; leading NIH-funded pre-doctoral and post-doctoral training programs; serving on Equity and Diversity Committees for SMPH and CoE; and serving on the executive committee for the university’s TEAM-Science Program, which seeks to increase the number of underrepresented students who successfully complete PhD programs in biomedical and behavioral sciences.
“Throughout her career, Beth has worked to promote diversity and inclusivity, and she is very passionate about it,” says Bill Barker, CALS associate dean of research. “In addition, her experience is such that she’ll be able to immediately step in to continue the program’s history of excellence—and help take things to the next level.”
When the SciMed GRS program was established in 2008, it welcomed an initial cohort of 18 students. Since then, the program has graduated more than 140 scholars. Today, the program serves approximately 150 students in 39 graduate programs in four colleges (CALS, School of Medicine and Public Health, School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Pharmacy). SciMed GRS continues to evolve and expand to promote a diverse, educated, inspired and engaged community.
It’s Meyerand’s goal to help grow the program, while maintaining its current strengths. She wants to explore opportunities to offer SciMed GRS students leadership/management training in areas identified by alumni and employers; help students understand the wide variety of career paths available to them; and encourage them to get training in teaching.
“I see this position as a catalyst for growth in the diversity of biological science leaders in our country,” says Meyerand. “It’s only by graduating a diverse cadre of highly skilled PhDs that we as a society will be able to address the largest and most pressing challenges in biology today, and I’m thrilled to work with the SciMed GRS community to continue its rich history of excellence.”
Meyerand holds a B.S. in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Yale University; an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and a PhD in Biophysics from the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Meyerand takes over the director position from Sara Patterson, who has led the SciMed GRS program since its inception. Patterson plans to retire at the end of spring semester 2019.