BME Doctoral Student Selected as Scholar for Industry Career-mentoring Initiative

Kalan Leaks, a biomedical engineering doctoral candidate, receives year-long industry mentorship as a biotechnology SMDP Scholar.

Nov. 28, 2023 - Biomedical engineering doctoral candidate Kalan Leaks was named a 2023 Scientist Mentoring & Diversity Program (SMDP) Scholar in biotechnology by the nonprofit International Center for Professional Development. The one-year initiative pairs underrepresented students and researchers with industry professionals to encourage networking and research development.

Leaks is working closely with his assigned mentor Christopher Langmead, director of Digital Biologics Discovery in Research and Development at Amgen.

“It is a joy to mentor such a fantastic young scientist,” said Langmead, who has been guiding Leaks in career building since June.

Through the program, Leaks was able to attend the 2023 BIO International Convention in Boston and has had the opportunity to participate in professional development workshops.

In his graduate research at UCI, Leaks uses machine learning to compare and analyze health markers such as blood pressure and iron levels in people with varying alcohol consumption patterns. The machine learning program can differentiate those consuming from those abstaining at a notable level using the health markers and demographic information. Leaks hopes to incorporate genetic data to better understand the relationship between alcohol consumption patterns and the human body.

“Becoming an SMDP scholar challenged me to consider how I want to make an impact in the world after I obtain my doctorate,” said Leaks. “It gave me the opportunity to embark on a better career path than I may have otherwise.”

– Lilith Christopher