Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow, Spinal Cord Injury Research on the Translational Spectrum
Sloan Scholar PhD in Biomedical Engineering, Rutgers University (and New Jersey Institute of Technology)
- Can you tell us more about your research?
My research is focused on simulating, developing and evaluating advanced feedback control systems to automatically regulate standing balance at user-selected postures with implanted neuroprostheses in persons paralyzed by spinal cord injury. Implanted neuroprosthees only enable these individuals to stand erect from seated position in their wheelchairs. I am working on advanced control systems that will enable them to adjust their postures so that they can prepare for functional tasks.
- How did you become interested in spinal cord injury research?
As an undergraduate, I became interested in understanding how injuries impair movement and how technology can be developed to improve the quality of life of those impacted by injury. I had the opportunity to participate in a mentored undergraduate research program and my project was on understanding how manual wheelchair users with spinal cord injury transfer from their wheelchair to other surfaces. Since then, I have been able to explore wheelchair propulsion biomechanics and posture in individuals with spinal cord injury.
- You recently completed a postdoctoral position at Case Western Reserve University in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and you were awarded a Spinal Cord Injury Research on the Translational Spectrum Fellowship by the Craig H. Neilson Foundation. Congratulations on your recent award! How will this fellowship help you move your research forward?
Thank you. The fellowship allows me to remain at Case Western Reserve University and continue my current research activities as well as gain additional clinical and research training to prepare for a career as an independent researcher. I also have the opportunity to establish my research niche, by pursuing independent research projects.
- As a postdoc, what is ONE piece of advice you would give to Sloan Scholars on the cusp of graduating?
Take care of yourself. As you near the end of the PhD program, you may be busy wrapping up your dissertation and applying for jobs. Given the demands on your time, it may be tempting to skip meals, sleep less, withdraw from social activities, etc. It’s important to maintain your self-care routine to sustain yourself and finish strong.
- How has being a Sloan Scholar affected your academic and research trajectories?
Being a Sloan Scholar has confirmed my interests in an academic career. It has connected me with opportunities for professional development and mentors to encourage me on my path.