Juliana Davis among UM’s First Biomedical Engineering Graduates

Senior reflects upon experiences in inaugural class, goals for employment

University of Mississippi senior Juliana Davis of Olive Branch is in the biomedical engineering degree program’s first graduating class. Submitted photo

As an entering freshman at the University of Mississippi, Juliana Davis planned to major in general engineering on the pre-med track. Four years later, the graduating senior from Olive Branch is among the inaugural class of biomedical engineering students receiving degrees in May.

“After a year or so of (general engineering) classes, my personal goals began to change,” Davis said. “Deciding that med school was not for me, I began thinking critically about what kind of engineering I wanted to shift into. At that time, the biomedical engineering program became available to upperclassmen.”

Biomedical engineering is the application of engineering principles and design concepts to medicine and biology. This field seeks to close the gap between engineering and medicine, combining the design and problem-solving skills of engineering with medical and biological sciences to advance health care treatment, including diagnosis and therapy.

Davis said she chose BME because she wants to work in a field that is inherently interpersonal and focused on serving the people who have the greatest need for technical solutions.

“I have observed the importance of the advancements in this field,” she said. “Society as a whole is better off because of biomedical engineering. I want to be a part of the generation that creates the life-changing technologies that are yet to come.”

As a BME student, Davis became a charter member of the Biomedical Engineering Society at Ole Miss.

“A few other BME students and I came together and worked hard to create an organization that would allow anyone who is interested in biomedical engineering to see relevant research and gain a better understanding of the growing profession,” Davis said.

Davis also served as president of the Society of Women Engineers. SWE has hosted alumni luncheons and information sessions and led engineering projects with middle school girls.

“I also served as social chair for the Engineering Student Body Leadership Council and enjoyed leading our team in planning social events such as Engineering Formal,” she said. “I had the privilege to do undergraduate research with Dr. (Nikki) Reinemann in the biomedical engineering department.”

Davis first met Reinemann when she took her junior-level BME Transport Phenomena class. She expressed interest in performing research in Reinemann’s lab, so she was one of her inaugural research students as well.

“Juliana has been a member of my lab for two years now, so we have had a lot of experiences together,” said the assistant professor of biomedical engineering. “I took her to her first national conference last year to present research.

“This is a memorable first-time experience for almost any researcher – to see the vast scale of work, opportunities and scientists all gathered in one convention center. In addition, she presented her poster well, and I was proud how she represented my lab. It was a fulfilling experience for both of us.”

Davis said all of her experiences enabled her to grow as a leader and develop strong friendships with other students and faculty.

“Some of my favorite classes were Mechanics of Materials with Dr. (Erik) Hurlen and Biomedical Controls and Biomedical Instrumentation with Dr. (Glenn) Walker,” she said. “In each class, I was able to see the engineering applications to the human body.”

Although the university’s commencement exercises have been changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Davis has already set her sights on postgraduation goals.

“I will be accepting a position in the human factors department at the Boeing Co. in Oklahoma,” she said. “There, I will be working in the defense sector on military aircraft. I am excited to be moving forward as an Ole Miss engineer and am grateful for the support I have received in my time here.”