Biomedical Engineering Volunteers Participate in “Wikithon” for Black History Month



In mid-February, volunteers from the U of A, Boston University, Louisiana Tech University, Northwestern University and the University of Florida participated in a “Wikithon” in partnership with the Bioengineering Organizations Leading Diversity (BOLD) Committee of the Biomedical Engineering Society and Alpha Eta Mu Beta, the National Biomedical Engineering Honor Society. The goal was to update the Wikipedia pages of underrepresented minority biomedical engineering researchers as a service project for Black History Month. Volunteers included graduate students, postdocs, faculty, and staff representing the various departments.

The U of A had three volunteers: Peg Hart, research coordinator; Zhexi Zhu, graduate student and fellow in the Department of Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion; and Raj Rao, head of the biomedical engineering department. Zhu wanted to participate in this Black History Month project to help working professionals improve their representation on the Wikipedia platform.

“Often, underrepresented scholars haven’t received support to enrich their Wikipedia pages,” Zhu said. “This is an opportunity to help busy engineering professionals add more of their achievements – lab research and related publications – to their Wiki pages. We want to help them improve their pages to spread the word on the work they do.”

A list of underrepresented minority researchers working in the field of biomedical engineering was provided to the teams by the BOLD committee. Teams selected pages and added information about a person’s research activities, honors, awards, and publications. According to Teresa A. Murray, associate professor at Louisiana Tech and coordinator of the BOLD initiative, the project made 40 edits and improved about 12 Wiki pages.

“Black History Month projects are a great opportunity to show our support and highlight underrepresented scholars in our field,” Rao said. “By involving volunteers from many races, we are demonstrating how we can work together to improve the system for all, providing a diverse and inclusive environment in which young professionals can succeed.”

The event, originally scheduled for one day, was extended to give teams more time to work around busy schedules. Pre and post event meetings were held to provide training and to identify issues. The post-event meeting discussed what worked well and ways to improve the project for next year. The project is expected to become an annual event for the Biomedical Engineering Society and for the U of A’s Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Click here to learn more about biomedicine student organizations.

About U of A Biomedical Engineering: The Department of Biomedical Engineering has established itself as one of the premier research departments on campus that is committed to training undergraduate and graduate students to become leaders in the field of biomedical engineering. More information can be found at biomedical-engineering.uark.edu.

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