BEPSA Executive Board and Committee Chairs for 2020- 2021

Summary of Positions and Roles

Copy of BEPSA Constitution


Executive Board


Kay Palopoli

Kay is a fourth-year student in Dr. Warren Grill’s lab. She served as a BEPSA Events chair for 2 years, and is now continuing her involvement by serving as President. Her research focuses on improving temporal patterns of deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease. 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 lead the representatives of our great community!

Vice President

Zach Holmes

Zach is a second-year student in Dr. Lingchong You’s Synthetic Biology lab. Last year,  as a first-year representative, he organized the seminar series “Adulting 101”. As the Vice President, 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! Outside of school, Zach enjoys spending time outside hiking, biking, and kayaking.

Chief Financial Officer

Kevin Erning

Kevin is a third-year student in Tatiana Segura’s lab studying biomaterials for brain repair after stroke. Outside the lab, he loves to travel, bake and cook. Kevin served as one of the Outreach Chairs last year, and continues his involvement by managing the finances for BEPSA’s great events!


Chief Technology Officer

Joost Op ‘t Eynde

Joost is a fourth-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 continue 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 third-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.

Meghan Reynolds

Meghan is a second-year student in Brent Hoffman’s Cell and Molecular Mechanobiology lab.  Her research focuses on the role of integrins and ion channels in mechanotransduction pathways.  This is her first year serving as a BEPSA exec chair and she is excited to take part in planning and organizing various events for the department.  Meghan also enjoys traveling, cooking, and exploring Durham in her free time.


Community Enrichment

Latifah Maasarani

Latifah is a second-year PhD student in Adam Wax’s biomedical imaging lab. Her research focuses on developing quantitative phase imaging methods for the early detection of cancer. As community enrichment chair, Latifah focuses on cultivating relationships between students, staff, and faculty within the BME department. Her first initiative as community enrichment chair is coordinating the BME department book club. Outside of the lab, Latifah enjoys spending time with her two cats, trying out new cooking methods, and talking walks in nature.



Riley Deutsch

Riley is a third-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. 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.


Alan Rosales

Alan is a second-year PhD student in Aravind Asokan’s lab and works on engineering novel adeno-associated virus (AAV) capsids for improved targeted gene delivery/gene editing to different organs. Outside of lab, he enjoys baking, reading, hiking and any other outdoor activity. As one of the Outreach Chairs and his first time in BEPSA, he is excited to help plan volunteering opportunities and help build a stronger connection with Durham Public Schools.


Jake Heggestad

Jake is a fourth-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.

Josh Milligan

Josh is a second-year graduate student in Dr. Chilkoti’s lab researching how radiation and immunotherapy can be combined for cancer treatments.  As co-chair of the resources committee, Josh is working to make accessible resources the help students navigate the PhD program and learn more about research in the department.  Outside of lab, he enjoys spending time at the beach or hiking in the mountains.



Zack Weaver

Zack is a fourth-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.  When he is not in lab, he enjoys being outdoors: hiking, camping, scuba diving, and skiing.

Torie Broer

Torie is a third-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.

Cyrus Tanade

Cyrus is a first-year PhD student in Amanda Randles’ lab on biomedical simulation and high-performance computing. As a First-Year Representative, he is excited to serve his cohort through organizing community-building events, promoting the cohort through social media, and providing opportunities to learn about each other’s research. Outside lab, Cyrus loves cooking, binging TV shows, and playing tennis, badminton, and golf.


Julianna Bordas

Julianna is a first-year PhD student in Dr. Adam Wax’s biomedical imaging lab. Through her previous involvements in extracurricular activities, Julianna has grown a strong passion in ensuring an inclusive community for her peers. She is excited to maintain a supportive community within the program and assist in providing useful resources to first-year students. Julianna also enjoys baking, snowboarding, reading, and hanging out with her kitten!