Saterbak Launches New Journal Focused on Education in Biomedical Engineering

September 28, 2020 | Michaela Kane

Saterbak will serve as editor-in-chief of the new publication Biomedical Engineering Education

Ann Saterbak

Ann Saterbak

Ann Saterbak, a professor of the practice in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University, and a team of collaborators recently launched Biomedical Engineering Education, a new journal from the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) that will document and share papers involving research, teaching tips and other advances that are helpful for biomedical engineering educators. The inaugural issue was released online in August, with a focus on advice for teaching during the coronavirus pandemic.

Saterbak will serve as editor-in-chief of the journal, and Brian Helmke, associate professor of biomedical engineering  and director of undergraduate research at the University of Virginia, and Aileen Huang-Saad, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan, will serve as deputy editors-in-chief.

“There are journals for chemical engineering education and electrical engineering education, but there wasn’t anything out there for BME, and to me it was an obvious gap,” says Saterbak, the director of the Duke Engineering First-Year Experience. “BME is a constantly evolving field, and when educators have work out about new teaching methods, there really isn’t any place for them to publish. I’d developed the idea of creating a BME education-focused journal about five years ago, but things didn’t get moving until 2017.”

Saterbak pitched the idea to her Duke BME colleague George Truskey, who was the BMES Publications Board chair. After finding wide enthusiasm for the idea, the team finalized an agreement with BMES and Springer to create Biomedical Engineering Education, with plans to officially launch in 2021.

“This journal which Ann and her colleagues developed meets an important need in the field,” says Truskey. “We hope that this journal will facilitate the transmission of novel educational practices and aid in the evolution of biomedical engineering education.”

But those plans changed with the emergence of a global public health threat. 

“When the coronavirus pandemic began, educators were forced to make radical changes to their courses and transition from in-person to online or hybrid courses, and these changes extended from spring into the fall,” says Saterbak. “We recognized that this was a unique circumstance where our journal could be really helpful for educators as they look for tips or models to make these changes. A leader in AIMBE asked if we could expedite our publication date and release a special issue that was exclusively focused on teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic, and we jumped at the opportunity.”

Saterbak and her team received more than 80 papers in the four weeks after putting out a call for submissions. Working with an international team of 70 faculty with a focus in engineering education to review the articles, Saterbak and her editorial board ultimately selected 30 papers for their first issue, which had a ‘soft launch’ online in August.

“All of the articles in this first issue are what we call Teaching Tips. These articles are laser-focused on a specific educational tip, like a new method for reviewing prototypes online or alternative lab set-ups,” says Saterbak. “The goal was to quickly identify successful strategies that faculty could integrate into their own courses to improve the learning and teaching experience for both students and educators during an unprecedented challenge.”

The team plans to publish a range of paper types in Biomedical Engineering Education in addition to these Teaching Tips, including Research, Innovation, Perspectives and Review articles. These papers will address topics ranging from curriculum design, engineering education research, and novel course content to laboratory experiments and demonstrations, program highlights, and program outreach ideas for younger students.

According to Saterbak, the team will officially launch the print issue of Biomedical Engineering Education in January 2021. Until then, they are continuing to accept and review any and all papers about biomedical engineering education.

“It was clear that the biomedical engineering community was ready for something like Biomedical Engineering Education,” says Saterbak. “BME education has always been a rich topic to explore because there are so many fields within BME, whether it’s neuroengineering or medical device design. I’m hopeful that the launch of this journal will help highlight the variety within this field and continue to elevate the importance of graduate and undergraduate education in BME.”