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. 

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Biomedical Student Association 



photo of Casey Derella

Casey Derella

  • President

Graduate Program: Physiology


What is your research area ?  My overall research interest is to better understand how various diseases impact the vascular health of humans and contribute to cardiovascular disease. My current work focuses on better understanding the factors contributing to microvascular and skeletal muscle dysfunction in people with type 1 diabetes.


Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA?  I’ve served as other positions for the BSA, but was excited to begin my new role as President this year. The BSA is what we make of it – I saw this organization have the potential to make a positive impact on our the lives of students, our program, campus and community. I am excited to grow both as an individual leader and organization at AU.


What are your leadership goals for BSA in your role as President? My goal this year as president is to offer more opportunities for students to engage with one another across disciplines – whether this be through volunteering or social events. I am excited to explore new ways to engage virtually and with social distancing guidelines!


Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: Every year, the BSA hosts a spaghetti social event for the entire Biomedical Science Program to welcome new students. I have had a great time at this event each year and remember meeting so many people who have now become my dear friends.

photo of Tyler Benson

Tyler Benson

  • Vice President

Graduate Program: Vascular Biology  


What is your research area ?  Due to evolutionary pressure from malaria there are common polymorphisms of DARC in ethnic populations that have alter susceptibility to cardiometabolic disease. My work is aimed at understanding how these polymorphisms affect the pathogenesis in AAA and obesity. 


What does leadership mean to you?  Leadership to me means using  your own experiences in order to relate and help others make the best decisions for them. 


Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? I sought a leadership role in the BSA in order use my experience in the graduate program and in research to help incoming students find their labs and research passions.

photo of Katie Anne Fopiano

Katie Anne Fopiano

  • Secretary

Graduate Program: Physiology


What is your research area ?  Microvascular structural and vasomotor dysfunction in heart failure with preserved ejection fraction.


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? The first month I was in the program I was talking with so many of my classmates and friends that were international students experiencing challenges I was unaware of as a result of moving to a new country. I took the position to not only make a difference for international students, but to make a difference for all students BSA represents by taking on and hopefully making meaningful and impactful changes.

photo of Caleb Padgett

Caleb Padgett

  • Treasurer

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 treasurer? My goals as treasurer include maintaining financial transparency, optimizing spending of BSA funds to increase cost efficiency, and seeking increased student input on allocations and expenditures.

photo of Emily Burns

Emily Burns

  • Social Chair

Graduate Program:  Physiology


What is your research area ?  I am working on determining how immune cell infiltration in the kidneys as a result of a high salt diet progresses the pathogenesis of SS Hypertension and renal damage. 


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 sought a BSA leadership position to better round myself as an individual and give back to our biomed community through fun escapes from the stress of grad school as the Social Chair.


photo of Hannah Youngblood

Hannah Youngblood

  • Humanitarian

Graduate Program: Cellular Biology and Anatomy


What is your research area ?  I am studying how low levels of estrogen signaling in the cells that regulate aqueous humor outflow in the eye may increase risk for developing high eye pressure and glaucoma, the leading cause of irreversible blindness in the world.


What does leadership mean to you?  Leadership means doing your best and supporting and serving others. The best leaders are servant leaders – they lead from behind by helping others to achieve their goals, and push others towards excellence by striving for excellence themselves.


Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? What are your leadership goals for BSA in your role as Humanitarian?  I wanted to make a difference in the local community and wanted to see the BSA become more engaged in the community as well. Not only would the local community benefit, but Biomedical students would also benefit by gaining experience as community leaders, by making personal connections with fellow students and community partners, and by experiencing the fulfillment of making a difference in the lives of others.


Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight?  The BSA holiday party my first year was pretty memorable. The party was right after the last exam of the first semester so all of us first-year students wore an ugly Christmas sweater to our exam. And then it was nice to be able to relax and chat with other students after the exam after days of cramming. Someone got pretty creative with the Secret Santa that year, too. Good times.

photo of Lindsey Ramirez

Lindsey Ramirez

  • SGA Representative

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 ? I represent my PhD program in the Graduate Student Government and serve to bridge the communication between the two entities. I want to provide a safe space so that my fellow students feel confident talking about their issues and concerns. I want to give fellow students a voice and empower them to know they can make a difference in their graduate school experience. 

photo of Harshit Singhania

Harshit Singhania

  • SGA Representative

Graduate Program: Oral Biology and Maxillofacial Pathology 


What is your research area ? Elucidate the mechanisms through which EPS8 and SOX2 cooperate to regulate HNSCC biology and thus identify novel therapeutic targets to improve disease outcomes. 


What does leadership mean to you? Leadership is a skill which helps to motivate people to achieve their goals. A good leader brings a positive change in the society for the benefit of the humanity. 


Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? I want to seek a leadership position in the BSA to be the voice of the fellow students and help them resolve their concerns.

photo of Shinjini Chowdhury

Shinjini Chowdhury

  • SGA Representative

Graduate Program: ​Physiology


What is your research area ?  My ongoing predoctoral research is focused on the regulation of aldosterone production in response to very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) via lipin-1. Aldosterone plays a key role in regulating blood pressure homeostasis and hence, abnormal levels can contribute to cardiovascular pathologies such as hypertension.  Since obesity is associated with hypertension and obese individuals have elevated levels of VLDL, the findings of this study may provide a mechanistic link between obesity and hypertension.


Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA? ​ The BSA provides a platform to not only make a difference and improve the graduate school experience but also makes the PhD journey memorable and fun.


What are your leadership goals for BSA in your role ? Being a Graduate Student Government Association (GSGA) representative in the BSA, my leadership goal is to provide a voice for and promote an environment of inclusivity, especially, for international scholars. With the help pf the GSGA, I have been able to bring issues to the attention of the AU administration for discussions and problem solving. An AU International Student Guide is in the works as well!

BSA Service Projects

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.


AUGUST | Student Mentorship Program 

Our first service project for the fall semester was aimed to welcome new biomedical students to the program by pairing them with an upperclassman graduate student mentor. This was the second year that the BSA has organized the student mentorship program. It seemed especially important this year to set up these contacts for the first-year students since the amount of in person student gatherings was limited due to the Covid-19 pandemic.  All in all, a great way to welcome incoming students, provide helpful resources and start life-long friendships.

September | Letters to  Veterans

We participated in a pen pal project for the residents of the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home. With the help of friends and family, we were able to send all 98 residents a card of thanks and encouragement. (Photos: our the post office collection box and the cards collected). 

October | Storytime with a Scientist

student outside with science experiment

The October service project involves creating “Storytime with a Scientist” videos for the Richmond Public Library children’s program. The first video is aimed at younger children and will include Caryn Bird reading the Humpty Dumpty story, Emily Parker doing an egg experiment to show how we could have made Humpty Dumpty bounce, and Stan the Skeleton Man offering tips on how to keep our bones healthy. The second video will be for older children and will include Sarah Ray and Hannah Youngblood explaining how the kidneys work using a coffee filter demonstration and Lindsey Ramirez showing how we can assess kidney health by measuring the amount of urinary protein. Both videos will include Hanna Reinhart demonstrating a do-at-home “Elephant Toothpaste” experiment (photo). This project is still ongoing - check back for links to the videos.


November |  Thankful Baskets for essential workers

Thankful baskets for essential workers

For the November service project,  “Thankful Baskets” were assembled for AU and AU Health essential workers. Each participating department was given a basket to fill with candy, snacks, gift cards, and/or notes of thanks and encouragement. The baskets will be delivered to housekeeping and hospital staff to show our gratitude and appreciation for all they have done and continue to do every day. The project was also an interdepartmental contest to see which department collected the most goodies. 

December |  holiday Toy drive

Biomedical Student Association Toy DriveFor the December Service Project, we had a toy drive. We collected toys, books, and clothing for the Boys and Girls Club of the CSRA and Toys for Tots.