The Biomedical Student Association (BSA) is a Augusta University-sanctioned student organization representing graduate students of the Biomedical Sciences and their student affiliations to provide leadership and support to the Biomedical Science graduate students.The BSA Bylaws
The BSA conducts activities to promote an atmosphere of fellowship and social support among the graduate students and organizes students' interactions with other institutions and organizations within Augusta University and the community at large. The majority of BSA events focus on strengthening social networks within the graduate student community as well as encouraging students to play an active role in campus and community-wide events.
Graduate Program: Vascular Biology
What is your research area ? Our research is looking for ways to break the link between obesity and the cardiovascular diseases that accompany it. I’m specifically interested in the mechanisms by which hyperglycemia causes oxidative stress and microvascular endothelial dysfunction.
What does leadership mean to you? One of my favorite perspectives on the definition of leadership comes from John Baldoni, who said, “Leadership is an active, living process. It is rooted in character, forged by experience, and communicated by example."
What are your leadership goals for BSA in your role as president? My goals for the upcoming year include increasing student engagement in both philanthropic and social events, further establishing collaborations with other graduate programs on the Health Sciences campus, and promoting enhanced communication between students and administrators. I’m looking forward to serving the biomedical student body alongside our newly elected officers to improve student life here at Augusta University.
Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: One of my favorite experiences with the BSA has been participating in the First-Year Mentor program. This is a great way for more experienced graduate students to share their expertise and to help foster a welcoming and supportive environment for new students.
Graduate Program: Physiology
What is your research area ? I am working on determining how kidney-infiltrating macrophages contribute to the oxidative stress and progression of inflammation in the kidneys of individuals with high blood pressure caused by the high salt content of our Western diet.
What does leadership mean to you? To me, leadership means providing support and guidance so others can succeed - and not being afraid to roll up your sleeves and do some dirty work in order to make a difference.
Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? I held the Social Chair position in my previous term and really enjoyed serving my fellow students. I think growth is so important and holding a leadership position allows for my own personal growth as well as growth for the organization. I love seeing other biomed students thrive, and I have many ideas to keep us interactive and motivated throughout our PhD journeys
Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: We plan several social events each semester to allow everyone in the program to keep up with one another. I love these opportunities to catch up with fellow students and be reminded of all the support and friendship I have surrounding me here at AU.
What is your research area ? My research focuses on utilizing genomic and bioinformatic tools to understand and improve engineered T cells for cancer immunotherapy.
What does leadership mean to you? Leadership is a willingness to serve and advocate for others.
Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? I think that a leadership role in the BSA gives me an opportunity to serve my peers, while helping with self-development.
Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: Through the first-year mentorship program, BSA matched me with an amazing student mentor that has been very helpful in connecting me with opportunities and helping me navigate my first year experience.
Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology
What is your research area? My research area is cancer biology, more specifically, I am investigating how DNA repair mechanisms affect cancer.
What does leadership mean to you? Leadership is the ability of one to bring the most out of others for a common cause.
Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? Motivating and inspiring others has been a goal of mine since joining the PhD program. I want to take on the initiative of helping others, just as I have been helped by others in the past.
Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: The most memorable moment I have of the BSA is when the BSA won the award for donating the most clothes in the clothing drive!
Graduate Program: Cellular Biology and Anatomy
What is your research area ? Glaucoma is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world, and its only treatable risk factor is high eye pressure. I am studying how estrogen signaling plays a role in the regulation of eye pressure.
What does leadership mean to you? Leadership means doing your best and supporting and serving others. The best leaders lead from behind by helping others to achieve their goals, and push others towards excellence by striving for excellence themselves.
What did you want to accomplish as the Humanitarian of the BSA and what has been accomplished so far? I wanted to make a difference in the local community and believed that Biomedical students would benefit by gaining leadership experience, by making personal connections with community partners, and by experiencing the fulfillment of helping others. So far we’ve been able to make a difference in the community by writing letters to disabled vets, participating in peer-mentorship, making educational videos for children, giving back to our essential workers, collecting food and clothing for the underprivileged, cleaning up our environment, and raising funds and awareness for health causes like heart disease and childhood cancer.
Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight? There are too many good memories to pick just one. Attending my first international conference, getting my first paper published, and receiving an NIH pre-doctoral fellowship were definitely high points! But so many of my favorite memories have centered around the people of AU, whether it be working together on service projects, mentoring undergraduate students, playing a class basketball game, teaching medical students, learning about the diverse cultural background of my labmates, brainstorming with colleagues in the hallway, or sitting down to a meal with classmates and just talking about life. The collegiality here is really what makes AU great!
Katie Anne Fopiano
Graduate Program: Physiology
What is your research area ? I am currently focusing within my research on heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and Alzheimer's disease, both prevalent diseases that currently have no treatment options. I am focusing on understanding the 'why' behind what leads to these diseases, focusing on the microvasculature and any dysfunction that occurs.
What does leadership mean to you? Leadership means standing up for the people you represent in a way that brings about meaningful changes.
Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? I joined the BSA to plan events that help students find their home here within the program, to get to know my classmates better and make friends, and to hopefully making meaningful and impactful changes for all the students BSA represents.
What are you goals as Editor of the BSA? Editor is a newer position and I really want to start a couple of projects that involve the community and give opportunities for our students to talk about their research and their experiences within science to hopefully make science more understandable and 'approachable'.
Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: A memorable experience for me was a night of studying, surprisingly. It was in my first year here and I was at the library studying for a test with a couple of my classmates and we just had to take a break and started joking around and having a good time, they are now some of my good friends and we all support each other. Coming to a new school in a new city can be scary but finding good friends in your classmates makes this experience, this town, and this time that much more wonderful.
Graduate Program: Physiology
What is your research area? While females are usually protected against high blood pressure, recent data from our laboratory has shown that high fat diets may affect this protection. We think high fat diets increase fat tissue and inflammation more in females than in males and are testing this hypothesis.
What does leadership mean to you? In my eyes, leaders are the embodiment of everything we strive to be. They selflessly complete thankless work, inspire and respect others, find creative ways to solve problems, and compassionately make difficult decisions. Leaders will fight for a brighter future and they take everyone along on this journey; there is no one left behind.
What are your leadership goals for BSA in your role ? As the Science Communicator, I will be working with fellow BSA officers to disperse scientific information in the form of newsletters. I hope that these documents will be educational and entertaining and will remind PhD students how much of an impact science can make. My goal is to foster creative freedom, teamwork, and build communication skills in our team.
Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: I have had many memorable moments with my years of serving with the BSA. Our organization volunteers to help local and national charities. My favorite moments in the BSA have been participating in these charity opportunities with my fellow BSA members.
What is your research area? Cancer Immunology (Molecular Medicine). My research is focused on how immunotherapy modulates the tumor microenvironment and the use of novel therapeutic options such as Adoptive T cell therapy (CAR T) in the management of cancer.
What does leadership mean to you? Service to a particular group of people or society. To inspire and selflessly represent a cause.
Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? To serve as a bridge and represent the best interests of the BSA at the GSGA. I also hope to discuss new ideas and suggest policies geared at improving the graduate student experience and student general welfare.
Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: The BSA provided a student mentor/friend as I joined the program. This was quite valuable as my mentor helped me make more informed decisions regarding laboratory rotations and insights on first-year course work. Also for the fun part, he showed me around the city of Augusta.
What is your research area? I am currently working on a project that looks at the effect that reactive oxygen species from immune cells, T-cells specifically, have on a person who has salt-sensitive hypertension. We utilize many different novel genetically modified animals and focus on renal hemodynamics as well as the morbidity that eventually leads to end stage renal disease.
What does leadership mean to you? Leadership is a responsibility to those you are representing. Your goal and ambitions should be to help inspire and provide the best experience to all those that you interact with; especially for the benefit of those that you are leading. I think John Quincy Adams said it best, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? My experiences in other leadership roles, as well as with others in the department, has led me to acknowledge places to try to help improve all of our experiences here at MCG. I am striving to be a representative voice for those positive changes as well as helping others feel the desire to utilize all the benefits we have here at MCG.
Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: To pick one moment would feel like a disservice to the others. Whether it has been helping around the committee or enjoying a relaxing well-fed night with others on this journey of graduate school, the BSA really strives to provide a place of belonging and growth.
Georgia Prevention Institute (6:00 - 8:00pm)
On a monthly basis, the BSA members work to organize a service project to make a difference in our communities, gain leadership experience, promote student-student interaction and expand networking opportunities. Through service, students feel more connected not only with the campus community, but also with the larger CSRA community. In this way, both the graduate students and the community benefit.
In January/February, we had a campus-wide “Clean Your Closets Clothes Drive” that collected clothes for the Augusta Dream Center and sports clothes for local school kids through a program called “Gear Up”.
In March, we coordinated the annual fundraiser for the American Heart Association (AHA) at the AR Workshop in North Augusta. 10% of proceeds went to the AHA.
In April, we had planned an Earth Day cleanup of the Savannah River watershed in conjunction with Savannah Riverkeeper.
The month of May was dedicated to childhood disease awareness. The BSA raised funds for the Children’s Hospital of Georgia through the Month of Miracles fundraiser, and several students made story time videos for the children staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Augusta. The theme of both projects was “Keep Looking Up!”