The Biomedical Student Association (BSA) is an 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 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. 

BSA Events Fall 2022

September 10

Tunnel to Tower 5K

September 19-30

Clothing drive for the Augusta Dream Center

October 3-7

Food drive for AU Open Paws Pantry

October 26

BSA Halloween Celebration

October 28

Trick or treat event with Ronald McDonald House

November 1-30

Cards available for patients at the Georgia Cancer Center
Stop by the student lounge and write encouraging words!

November 12

Imagination State Fall Festival
To volunteer, contact emellott@augusta.edu.

November 30

GaBio Career Development Symposium for those considering a career in industry and biotech

December 14

BSA December Social at Dave & Busters from 5:30 - 7:00pm

Contact Us

Biomedical Student Association 




photo of Emily Burns

Emily Burns

  • President

Graduate Program:  Physiology

What is your research area ? I am studying immune mechanisms leading to oxidative stress and inflammation during salt-sensitive hypertension and associated renal end-organ damage. My research focuses specifically on determining the role of Toll-like Receptor 4 signaling in renal macrophages in the pathogenesis of the disease.

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 have held the Vice President and Social Chair positions in my previous terms, and I really enjoyed serving my fellow students. Being a leader allows for my own personal growth as well as growth for the organization. I recognize the importance of fostering a supportive environment to keep students interactive and motivated throughout our PhD journeys.

Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: We plan several social events each semester to allow everyone in the program to keep up with one another. I love these opportunities to catch up with fellow students and be reminded of all the support and friendship I have surrounding me here at AU. 

photo of Katie Anne Fopiano

Katie Anne Fopiano

  • Vice President

Graduate Program: Physiology

What is your research area ?  I am currently focusing within my research on heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) and Alzheimer's disease, both prevalent diseases that currently have no treatment options. I am focusing on understanding the 'why' behind what leads to these diseases, focusing on the microvasculature and any dysfunction that occurs.

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? I joined the BSA to plan events that help students find their home here within the program, to get to know my classmates better and make friends, and to hopefully making meaningful and impactful changes for all the students BSA represents.I have been involved with BSA for the past two years and I am excited to continue to grow within the organization and to have the continued opportunity to represent my fellow Biomedical Science students as Vice President. Within my position, I want to continue projects within the BSA as well as implement new projects that will hopefully have a positive impact on the students here. 

Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: A memorable experience for me was a night of studying, surprisingly. It was in my first year here and I was at the library studying for a test with a couple of my classmates and we just had to take a break and started joking around and having a good time, they are now some of my good friends and we all support each other. Coming to a new school in a new city can be scary but finding good friends in your classmates makes this experience, this town, and this time that much more wonderful.

photo of Mercy Kehinde-Ige

Mercy Kehinde-Ige

  • Secretary

Graduate Program: Biochemistry & Cancer Biology

What is your research area ?  My research focuses on utilizing genomic and bioinformatic tools to understand and improve engineered T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

What does leadership mean to you?  Leadership is a willingness to serve and advocate for others.

Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA?  I think that a leadership role in the BSA gives me an opportunity to serve my peers, while helping with self-development.

Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: Through the first-year mentorship program, BSA matched me with an amazing student mentor that has been very helpful in connecting me with opportunities and helping me navigate my first year experience.

photo of Sam Melnyk

Sam Melnyk

  • Treasurer

Graduate Program: Physiology

What is your research area?  I study mechanisms involved in corneal wound healing. More specifically I'm interested in how epigenetic factors are involved in delayed wound healing in diabetics and finding potential treatments to speed up the wound healing process.

What does leadership mean to you? Leadership to me means to lead by example and help others achieve a common goal.

What are your leadership goals for BSA in your role? As treasurer, the obvious goal is to make sure the accounts are balanced and that the funds we have are used properly for the betterment of the BSA and others. I also plan to help with ideas for activities and events that the BSA can do.

Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: Through the first-year mentorship program, BSA matched me with an amazing student mentor that has been very helpful in connecting me with opportunities and helping me navigate my first year experience.

photo of Drew Speese

Drew Speese

  • Social Chair

Graduate Program: Vascular Biology

What is your research area?  Obesity-related cardiometabolic dysfunction.

What does leadership mean to you?  Setting a good example and facilitating progress.

What are your leadership goals for BSA in your role? As a newly elected BSA officer, I am excited to gain valuable community service experience. 

Fun or memorable AU experience or highlight: Some memorable Augusta University Graduate School moments where when I had the opportunity to travel to Philadelphia and to Budapest, Hungary to present my research. 

photo of Elisabeth Mellott

Elisabeth Mellott

  • Humanitarian

Graduate Program: Physiology

What is your research area ? My research focuses on expanding the knowledge in the pregnancy field on preeclampsia, a cardiovascular disease that arises mid-gestation. Specifically, I'm working on elucidating the mechanisms the placenta activates that worsen the symptoms of preeclampsia and the difficulties in treatment options.  

What does leadership mean to you? I always have seen some form of service from the people around me and those in leadership roles who genuinely inspire. "Service is the rent you pay for room on this earth," spoken by Shirley Chisholm and I like to apply to any situation. The best way to ensure you are providing for those you lead for and those you work under is by serving

What did you want to accomplish as the Humanitarian of the BSA and what has been accomplished so far? There has been a precedent of expanding BSA's role on campus and in the community by lending volunteer hours to different local efforts and I want to continue that ideology to include more projects that our students want to get involved in. I hope to provide different opportunities to highlight needs in our diverse community that include our international students' needs, those from other states, and still pour into Augusta.

Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight? My first experience with the power of BSA was the food pantry that was offered to the first years. We had just had our first test and a lot of us were still stressed from the transition to graduate school. BSA held a little social hour for us to connect with older students who bought different grocery items for easy dinners like pasta. It was comforting in ways we didn't know we needed.

photo of Dina Kira

Dina Kira

  • GSGA Representative

Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

What is your research area? Genetic causes of a rare disease called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome

What does leadership mean to you?  Leadership to me is channeling our power for causes that will benefit the whole team while setting a positive example for others.

What are your leadership goals for BSA in your role? As a Graduate SGA representative of BSA, my goal is efficiently and accurately share BSA views with GSGA. Also, make sure that biomedical science program students are part of GSGA’s mission to improve the quality of life for the graduate students at Augusta University.

Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: Being part of the BSA mentor-mentee program, where newly accepted incoming graduate students are paired with current students to help them start this new exciting chapter of their careers. I made great friends through this program!! It’s always helpful to share experiences with others.

photo of Dominique Monroe

Dominique Monroe

  • SGA Representative

Graduate Program: Biochemistry and Cancer Biology 

What is your research area?  My research area is cancer biology, more specifically, I am investigating how DNA repair mechanisms affect cancer.

What does leadership mean to you?  Leadership is the ability of one to bring the most out of others for a common cause. 

Why did you seek a leadership position in the BSA?  Motivating and inspiring others has been a goal of mine since joining the PhD program. I want to take on the initiative of helping others, just as I have been helped by others in the past. 

Fun or memorable BSA experience or highlight: The most memorable moment I have of the BSA is when the BSA won the award for donating the most clothes in the clothing drive!  

Recent 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. 

October 2022 | Win the Feud, Give Some Food - Food Drive for AU Open Paws Food Pantry

During the week of October 3rd - 7th, BSA held a priority food and school supply drive competition to gather donations for the AU Open Paws Food Pantry, playing on the friendly competitive nature of all nine of our biomedical science PhD programs and The Graduate School staff. With the Biomedical Student Association (BSA) leading the charge, AU graduate students, faculty, and staff donated 590.30 pounds of food and supplies in a friendly competition between the Biomedical Science PhD programs. All totaled over the week, they were able to donate 365.30 pounds to the Health Science campus and 225 pounds of goods to the Summerville pantry Kudos to the Vascular Biology Center, which raised the most, bringing 173 pounds of food AND 288 other needed non-food items.
The Open Paws Food pantry is free to all AU students. As a university focused on health, we want our students to be healthy. The Open Paws Pantry works “to end hunger and malnutrition” of our students, including graduate students. As they say, they are a “resource for students experiencing food poverty, financial stress, or other factors keeping them from being able to stock their own pantry.” The pantry normally keeps staple canned and dry goods foods on hand as well as snacks and non-food items, such as toiletries, but the pickings were growing thin.

All donations, including monetary donations, are welcomed at the AU Open Paws Pantry at either campus location from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. Students can find the pantries in Bellevue Hall on the Summerville campus or on the second floor of the Student Center on the Health Sciences campus. The pantry reports that snack foods, energy bars, and other shelf-stable, ready-to-eat foods run out the fastest, but they also are interested in keeping canned goods, pastas, crackers, cereals, and toiletries including soap and shampoo, feminine products, and shaving supplies on hand. You can also give monetary donations to the pantry through the AU Foundation—please specify the Food Pantry or AU Open Paws pantry. Let’s keep our AU students healthy, well-fed, and hungry only for great ideas!

BSA officers pictured (left to right): Mercy Kehinde-Ige, Emily Burns, Elisabeth Mellott, Katie Anne Fopiano, and Dominique Monroe. 

September 14, 2022 | Donations for First-Year Biomedical Science PhD Students

The BSA hosted a mini Food Pantry for the First-Year students to welcome them to AU and help them get started with food and supplies as they transition into graduate school. Senior students graciously donated a variety of items including produce and non-perishable foods and First-Year students were able to take what they needed.  It was a great way for students to support their peers in a healthy and helpful way! 

June 2022 | Blood Drive

Shepeard Community Blood Center's mobile unit, the Blood Vessel, was able to collect thirteen life-saving pints thanks to a campus blood drive hosted by the BSA.

May 2022 | Little Free Library

Little Free Library is a non-profit organization that seeks to build community and inspire readers by expanding book access. The Augusta University Literacy Center holds a similar goal of creating literacy access for all. The Biomedical Student Association partnered with both of these organizations to build a Little Free Library for the Augusta University Literacy Center. The Little Free Library will hold books collected by the BSA during their campus book drive. All individuals in the Augusta community are encouraged to use the Little Free Library at the AU Literacy Center's new location in the HUB for Community Innovation at 631 Chafee Ave, Suite 104. 

April 2022 | Earth Day

Earth Day Clean up 2022The BSA joined in the community-wide Earth Day Cleanup of the CSRA organized by Savannah Riverkeeper, Keep Augusta Beautiful, and Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. BSA members Michaela Quintero and Hannah Youngblood collected several bags of trash from Augusta's Downtown Riverwalk. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures for this one. I'm attaching the flyer instead.)





March 2022 | American Heart Association

While BSA officers Emily Burns and Katieanne Fopiano raised funds for the American Heart Association through a percentage night fundraiser at local restaurant Sole, other BSA members raised awareness about heart health by participating in the CSRA American Heart Association Heart Walk. 


February 2022 | Valentine's for Vets

As part of their Valentine's for Vets service project, the BSA wrote notes of encouragement to residents of the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home.

January 2022 | Martin Luther King Service Day

BSA joined hands with students from other AU colleges and campus organizations, including the Black Student Union, the Medical College of Georgia, and Omega Psi Phi, to help the Augusta Dream Center. The Augusta Dream Center is a non-profit organization that seeks to meet the basic needs of underprivileged individuals by providing them with food, clothing, and medical care. The 31 student volunteers were able to donate two car-loads of clothing, prepare a meal for community members, and serve in the clothes closet and food pantry, among other activities.

See more of the BSA's previous projects >>