About Us

BEPSA Executive Board and Committee Chairs for 2019 – 2020

Summary of Positions and Roles

Copy of BEPSA Constitution


Executive Board


Chelsea Fries

Chelsea is a 4th year PhD student who LOVES Duke BME! She served as a BEPSA Events chair for 2 years, and is now continuing her involvement by serving as President. As president, her primary goals are to increase engagement and a sense of investment amongst the PhD student community. She is always eager to hear new ideas or thoughts on BEPSA programming, so please reach out if you would like to chat!

Vice President

Chris Eckersley

Chris is a 4th year in Dale Bass’s Injury Biomechanics Lab, but this is his 8th year here in Durham. In his time at Duke he has had the time to intimately learn about the curriculum and lifestyle of the graduate program through interactions with both new and seasoned faculty and graduate students. This understanding has driven him to the role of Vice President in BEPSA where one of his primary roles is to serve as the student voice on the Doctoral Affairs Committee to ensure the graduate student opinion is accounted for in the evolution of the program. If there is any change you would like to see in the graduate program or lifestyle, feel free to reach out to Chris!

Chief Financial Officer

Elise Adamson

Elise is a third-year student Dr. Kafui Dzriasa’s Psychiatric Neuroengineering Lab. Elise will be serving her second term as CFO where she manages the finances for BEPSA’s great events!

Chief Technology Officer

Joost Op ‘t Eynde

Joost is a third-year student in Dr. Dale Bass’ Injury Biomechanics Lab. His research focuses on blast and blunt injury biomechanics. Joost was involved in BEPSA as the first year representative and CTO, and looks forward to being a part of this great team this year. As CTO, he serves as webmaster, and oversees any multimedia publications or electronic forms of communication.


Committee Chairs


Erika Chelales

Erika is a second-year student in Nimmi Ramanujam’s lab and works on developing low cost therapeutics for cancer.  In her free time she enjoys running, hiking, and almost any other outdoor activity. She also is a food-lover and enjoys trying new restaurants and cuisines! As Events Co-Chair in BEPSA, she helps plan department activities and organize recruitment for incoming PhD students.

Kay Palopoli

Kay is a third-year student in Dr. Jon Viventi’s lab. Her research focuses on using high-density micro-ECoG recordings to monitor stroke evolution and better inform therapeutic interventions for patients. Outside of the lab, she enjoys rock climbing, yoga, and playing with her dog Mochi. Being a true Dukie at heart (graduating from Duke BME undergrad in 2017), she’s excited to help recruit students to our great community!



Riley Deutsch

Riley is a second-year student in Nimmi Ramanujam’s lab where he develops tools to study cancer metabolism. Outside of research, he enjoys making music, playing games, and climbing mountains.

Kevin Erning

Kevin is a second-year student in Tatiana Segura’s lab studying biomaterials for brain repair after stroke. Outside the lab, he loves to travel, bake and cook. As one of the Outreach Chairs in BEPSA, he is excited to help plan volunteering opportunities as well as fun activities for building a stronger and tighter BME community.


Zack Weaver

Zack is a 3rd year student in Professor Tadross’ lab. He works on targeted drug delivery to the brain combined with in-vivo neural recording and brain machine interface. As resources committee co-chair with Jake, Zack works on making important resources more accessible to graduate students, as well as planning events for graduate students to learn more about other research areas in the department. When he is not in lab, he enjoys being outdoors: hiking, camping, scuba diving, and skiing.

Jake Heggestad

Jake is a third-year graduate student in Dr. Chilkoti’s lab. His research focuses on developing point-of-care diagnostic tests for a variety of diseases. In his role as resources committee co-chair, Jake is working to make important resources more accessible to graduate students, as well as planning events for graduate students to learn more about other research areas in the department.


Anandita Ananthakumar


Torie Broer

Torie is a second year PhD student in the Bursac Lab working on the development of highly-functional and pre-vascularized engineered skeletal muscle.  This is her first year as a member of BEPSA and she’s really excited to be your curriculum co-chair. Outside of lab, Torie enjoys playing sports, hiking, and trying new restaurants around Durham.

The curriculum committee helps design and supervise the first and second year seminar series, as well as the TA short course. We help with the BME PhD Peer Mentoring Program, pairing incoming BME PhD students with more senior students. The committee conducts annual student surveys to assess student opinions of the Duke BME PhD curriculum and program structure in order to identify unmet needs or areas for improvement in our department. We advocate for and aide in implementation of improvements to the PhD program/curriculum based on survey responses via communication with the Director of Graduate Studies and other faculty.


First Year Officers

The First Year Officers represent the voice of the first-year graduate students on the BEPSA executive board, and play an important role in recruiting and communicating with next year’s incoming students.

Zach Holmes

Zach is a first-year student in Dr. Lingchong You’s Synthetic Biology lab. As a first-year representative, he looks forward to serving his cohort, including planning a seminar series called “Adulting 101”. Outside of school, Zach enjoys spending time outside hiking, biking, and kayaking.

Latifah Maasarani