Dr. Gilda Barabino - Champion of diversity in science and engineering.
Dr. Barabino is a leading advocate for diversity in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) fields, traveling widely to speak and give workshops on the topic. Dr. Barabino is also a leading advocate for eliminating health disparities and broadening participation of underrepresented minorities in biomedical engineering. In addition to STEM diversity in higher education, her research focuses on sickle cell adhesion, cellular engineering, tissue engineering, and bioreactors. 
During a sabbatical at GeorgiaTech’s Institute for Bioengineering and Bioscience in 2003-2004, Barabino initiated a project with West Georgia University psychology professor Kareen Malone and Georgia Tech’s Director of Learning Sciences Research Wendy Newstetter to study gender and race in a laboratory setting. 
"Kareen and I completed a study focusing on the experiences of minority women in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] fields, and how these experiences will impact identity formation as a scientist." 
President of BMES
Dr. Barabino serves as the current president of the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES), boasting nearly 6,500 members and the largest biomedical engineering conference with nearly 4,000 attendees. Dr. Barabino is the first African-American person and second lady to be elected since BMES was established in 1968. [3, 9]
Barabino commented on her new role:
“My vision for BMES, our profession and the institutions and entities that represent biomedical engineering, is that we practice and are characterized by diversity inclusion and that we serve as a model for others in doing so. Diversity inclusion is a term coined to denote a characteristic where an institution demonstrates through its policies and practices that diversity is central to its mission – this characteristic is essential to drive future innovation in our field. I will work tirelessly to lead by example and anticipate that others will follow suit.” 
Barabino has many great plans as the new President, such as incorporating outreach activities that introduce biology, medicine and engineering principles on the K-12 level. “Children are naturally inquisitive about the world and so we need mechanisms in place to help them explore. There are many students who are interested in medicine but do not realize the scope of professions it encompasses. We can help them learn that there are other ways of being involved in medicine.” 
She is most excited about building talent to make biomedical engineering stronger because “the problems we have to work with are so complex, but the technology is exploding so we need people who are trained to bring the right set of tools and the right background to deal with these challenges that are no longer national, but global.”
She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE) and the Biomedical Engineering Society. I had the pleasure of interacting with Dr. Barabino at an AIMBE conference, which as chair of the Committee for Underrepresented Minorities, she headed an initiative to bring graduate students to the conference that is usually reserved for fellows of AIMBE and allowed me to present my research and interact with people at the forefront of biomedical research. AIMBE also aims to occupy a space in public policy as consultants to “educate and influence public officials, regulators, the media and general public” and promote “public policies that foster continued advancement in medical and biological engineering.” 
Quotes about diversity:
"A major challenge to academic diversity is transforming the culture and environment to one where diversity is infused throughout all aspects of teaching, learning, research and service."
"The best science is conducted when we have the most inclusive group of people involved. You can’t possibly have the best minds at the table if you exclude certain groups.”
“I am so passionate about broadening the community of science. I don’t want us to lose talent. I think it is important to give back because everyone does not have that same inner drive, some people need a little more nudging and support. I think it is even more important for people of color to give back. That’s part of my mission.” 
As principal investigator on the ADVANCE study “Cross-Disciplinary Initiative for Minority Women Faculty,” an initiative that engages in research-grounded activities to enhance socialization of tenure-track minority women in engineering, while also providing professional development opportunities for participants, Barabino said, “This [initiative] is in keeping with my career-long interests and efforts related to academic diversity, and is reflective of my approach to all areas of my work-research, teaching and service-which is research- and data-driven and interdisciplinary in nature.” 
Dr. Barabino earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Xavier University, New Orleans, LA in 1978, and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Rice University, Houston, TX in 1986. She’s penned articles for numerous publications sharing her research on bio-fluid mechanics, bioreactors, cellular engineering (creating functional artificial organs), tissue engineering, and sickle cell disease.
"There’s a misconception that sickle cell disease solely affects African Americans and that it does not represent a health disparity. All races can be affected and the disease is most prevalent in those with ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa, Saudi Arabia, India, the Mediterranean and Latin and South America. Sickle cell disease is prevalent in populations that face social, economic, cultural, structural, geographical and other barriers to comprehensive and quality care and, as such is among the diseases that involve health disparities." 
"Sickle cell disease is a very complicated and debilitating genetic blood disorder for which a cure and effective treatment strategies remain elusive, even 100 years after the initial discovery of the disease… we seek to work across boundaries and deliver a blueprint for an integrated sickle cell research strategy." 
Dr. Barabino was the recipient of the 1994 ASEE Dow Outstanding New Faculty Award for the New England Section. She was honored with an National Science Foundation Visiting Professorship for Women and she spent two years as a visiting professor in the chemical engineering department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After 18 years at Northeastern University (where she was a full professor and served as vice provost for undergraduate education), she arrived at Georgia Tech, where she is currently a professor of biomedical engineering and Associate Chair of Graduate Studies and served as the inaugural Vice Provost of Academic Diversity. [5, 6]
Dr. Barabino has an extensive record of leadership and service in the chemical and biomedical engineering communities. She is a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer for 2012-2014 and is the recipient of numerous awards including the BMES Diversity Award, the American Society for Engineering Education/Dow Outstanding Faculty Award, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Minority Affairs Committee (MAC) Distinguished Service Award and the AIChE MAC Eminent Chemical Engineers Award. Dr. Barabino is a recognized innovator, researcher and consultant on faculty development and on diversity in science and engineering. She has led a number of initiatives in these areas, including serving as the founder and executive director of the National Institute for Faculty Equity. [6, 7]
A naturally curious girl, she had multiple interests in school subjects. “I loved everything,” she says. It was her high school teacher who unknowingly set her down on a career path in science. “She told the class that chemistry was not for girls,” Barabino recalls. “I thought how dare you pick a group and say a particular subject is not acceptable for them! And that’s really how I got started in chemistry!”