Student Life at CIRP

Research co-op student life at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) is anything but a "typical" research co-op or internship experience. The CIRP research co-op students become important participants in their research activities and see projects through from beginning to end as often as possible. As part of CIRP research co-op student life, they are also encouraged to attend meetings, training, and presentations to become fully immersed in CIRP and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP).

Mari Allison, who is working toward her PhD in Bioengineering at The University of Pennsylvania, collaborates with CIRP Director of Engineering Kristy Arbogast on a variety of projects. Here is what she has to say about CIRP research co-op student life: “My research here focuses on pediatric concussion biomechanics, but I’ve also gotten to work on a hyperthermia prevention project as well as a project that looks at how neck and spine movement differs in kids compared to adults. Working at CIRP has been a particularly rewarding experience because it is easy to see the direct applicability of each project, acting as a constant reminder of why this research is so important.”

Bukola Famakinwa, a graduate of The University of Maryland College Park, participated in CIRP's Research Experiences for Undergraduates program from June 2012 to August 2012. Here is what she has to say about CIRP research co-op student life: “I worked on the Teen Driving Plan Project with Dr. Jessica Mirman for 10 weeks. As one of the eight REU interns, I was able to have my first hands-on clinical research experience where I learned a great deal about translational research. Interning at CIRP has changed my overall perspective about research, and I am grateful for the opportunity.”

Read a blog post from Lindsay Zajac, a senior at Bucknell University, about her CIRP@CHOP training experiences.

CIRP Student Spotlight

Todd Hullfish


Major:  Mechanical Engineering

Concentration: Biomechanics

Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA

"I am in my third of five years in the Co-Op Program at Drexel University studying Mechanical Engineering with a concentration in Biomechanics. This is my second co-op, previously working for the Animas Corporation, a Johnson and Johnson Company, as a Product Engineer specializing in sustainability of personal medical devices and insulin delivery mechanics.

During my time at Animas, I was responsible for the warranty issues of the three product lines produced on site: the Animas 2020, One Touch Ping, and Vibe insulin pumps. This included extensive reliability testing on various features of the pump, development of new testing procedures to improve initial quality of the pumps, and creation of prototypes to improve the overall longevity of the pumps in the field.

Now, working with the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP)'s Engineering Core, my focus has shifted from product development of medical devices to injury biomechanics in car crashes as a BioEngineer specializing in Finite Element Modeling and Analysis. With the guidance of my supervisor, Dr. Aditya Belwadi, I have learned the process of Finite Element Analysis, a method of computation used to more accurately represent complex geometry mathematically that can include material properties and several other factors important in the analysis of dynamic system interactions. Using a number of computer programs, I develop computer models of the vehicle crash scenarios we study in various projects.

In this capacity, I have worked on a number of projects at CIRP, looking into different crash scenarios, specifically rollover crashes and side impact crashes. I also study various factors involved in vehicle crashes, such as child restraints and air bags. I am currently developing a model of a side impact crash as part of a project mentored by Honda that I will be presenting at the Injury Biomechanics Symposium at The Ohio State University in May.

Upon completion of my undergraduate education, I hope to pursue a PhD in Biomedical Engineering focusing on Injury Biomechanics. I would like to thank everyone I’ve worked with at CIRP, particularly the members of the Engineering Core, for giving me the opportunity to advance my career in this field and for giving me the support to perform at the best of my abilities."