Postdoctoral Research Training Program 

The Postdoctoral Research Training Program at CIRP provides its Fellows the opportunity to work to hone their scientific skills collaboratively with researchers and clinicians at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania. Through this mentored research and/or scholarly training, CIRP’s Postdoctoral Fellows acquire the professional skills needed to pursue their desired career path, while contributing to innovations in translational research aimed at reducing the burden of injury on children, youth and families. 

Injury is the leading cause of death and acquired disability among children and youth in the United States. There is much opportunity to make a difference through the conduct of rigorous science and its translation into practical real world solutions.

Our Center is unique in its interdisciplinary approach to studying injury and our Research-to-Action-to-Impact approach, where scientists work with our health communication experts to translate their rigorous scientific findings into practical tools and guidelines for families, professionals, and policymakers to ensure research results extend to make a real-world impact. The Center is proud to collaborate with other institutions inside and outside of Philadelphia, including the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), Drexel University, The Ohio State University, and the University of Virginia, to name a few.

Both CHOP and Penn offer an abundance of professional development opportunities to researchers and faculty, including: scientific seminars; grant proposal, management, and administration workshops; leadership seminars; and multi-day institutes in GIS methods and mixed methods research. CIRP's Postdoctoral Fellows are encouraged to regularly participate in these opportunities to support their continued growth as an independent researchers.

CIRP has also been the research home for CHOP’s Clinical Fellows that are interested in applying the research methods deployed at the Center and interested in the issues and solutions related to unintentional and intentional injury.

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Work Within Interdisciplinary Research Teams

The different points of view that make up our Center form the foundation of a methodology in which research into the pre-event, event and post-event causes of injury and trauma can lead to action and ultimately lead to measureable impact on our nation's youth.

Postdoctoral Fellows at CIRP

At any given time, there are usually several Postdoctoral Fellows working on unique research at CIRP. Sometimes their position is shared between different research centers who have shared research interests providing a rich, multidisciplinary scientific environment. We collaborate with the The Annenberg Public Policy Center and the Penn Injury Science Center

Sicong Ren, PhD

Sicong Ren

Training: Kinesiology

Research Project: Evaluation of Qualitative and Quantitative Bio-Outcomes Following Sports-Related Concussion

Mentors: Kristy Arbogast, PhD; Christina L. Master, MD, CAQSM

Funding: Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Graduates of the Postdoctoral Training Program at CIRP

Valentina Graci, PhD is a Research Scientist in Biomechanics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at CHOP and an Assistant Research Professor in Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University. Dr. Graci completed her postdoctoral training at CIRP in 2018, where she examined postural perturbations in older adults and stroke survivors that are linked to an increased risk of fall and injury. Her recent research explores age-related differences in bracing behavior and the role of the startle reflex in take-over reaction time in critical autonomous driving scenarios.

Aimee J. Palumbo, PhD, MPH, is an Assistant Professor in the Epidemiology and Biostatistics Department at Temple University's College of Public Health. Dr. Palumbo completed her postdoctoral training at CIRP and the Penn Interdisciplinary Injury Science Center in 2018, working on projects related to  Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) compliance, licensing and crash rates among older drivers, and the impact of neighborhood exposures and returning to work on the long-term impacts of injury in the urban setting. Dr. Palumbo remains connected to CIRP as a Research Associate.

Aditya Belwadi, PhD completed his postdoctoral training at CIRP in 2013. During his training he was instrumental in developing advanced finite element computational modeling capabilities at the Center. He is now a Biomechanics Engineer at Tesla, Inc.

Meghan Marsac, PhD is a Pediatric Psychologist and Behavioral Researcher and, currently, Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine at the University of Kentucky and a Pediatric Psychologist at Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Dr. Marsac completed her post-doctoral training at CIRP in 2009 with a research focus on promoting adjustment and preventing posttraumatic stress in ill and injured children and their parents. Dr. Marsac continued as faculty at CIRP for five years, where she conducted research to develop two interventions -- Coping Coach and the Cellie Coping Kit. Dr. Marsac remains connected to CIRP as a CIRP Associate Fellow.

Catherine C. McDonald, PhD, RN, FAAN completed her National Institutes of Health T32 and K99 postdoctoral fellowships with training at the Penn School of Nursing and CIRP in 2014. During her postdoctoral training, she led the development of the Simulated Driving Assessment. She is currently Co-Director of the Injury Science Center at the University of Pennsylvania, Assistant Professor of Nursing at the Penn School of Nursing, and an active Senior Fellow with CIRP, collaborating on projects in adolescent driving behaviors and concussion.

Elizabeth Walshe, PhD is a Research Scientist at CIRP in the Neuroscience of Driving Program. Dr. Walshe completed her postdoctoral fellowship at CIRP and the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania in 2020. During her postdoctoral fellowship, she helped establish the Neuroscience of Driving program at CHOP, with research that explored the neural basis and neuropsychological factors underlying driving behavior and crash incidence in young drivers.

Olivia E. Podolak, MD completed her postdoctoral fellowship at CIRP in 2022 and is now a Clinical Research Associate I working with the Minds Matter Concussion Research team at the Center. Dr. Podolak also works in the clinical setting within the CHOP Sports Medicine Clinics and within the community on various studies aimed to improve the understanding, treatment, and rehabilitation of pediatric concussion.

Emma Sartin, PhD, MPH, CPST is now a Research Scientist I at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia's Center for Injury Research and Prevention. Her research focuses on studying and alleviating disparities in health behaviors and improving physical and social outcomes for marginalized populations. During her fellowship at CIRP, Dr. Sartin focused her research on the Autism ETA (Evaluating Transportation Among Adolescents) project.

Yaara Sadeh, PhD completed her postdoctoral fellowship at CIRP in 2023 and is now an Assistant Professor at the University of Haifa School of Social Work, in Israel. During her research fellowship, Dr. Sadeh was instrumental in expanding and sustaining data in the Child Trauma Data Archives.

Clinical Fellows

Mark Zonfrillo, MD, MSCE completed his Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at CHOP. During that time and the immediate following years after, he was a principal and co-investigator on multiple child traffic injury prevention and brain injury research projects in CIRP. He is now a Clinical Epidemiologist and Associate Professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at Hasbro Children’s Hospital and the Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. Zonfrillo remains an Associate Fellow at CIRP. 

Daniel Corwin, MD completed his Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) in 2017 and is now an Attending Physician in same department and a Scholar at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP. Dr. Corwin's research interests focus on the diagnosis and management of pediatric mild traumatic brain injury (concussion), working in tandem with CIRP and the CHOP Sports Medicine and Performance Center.

Christopher E. Gaw, MD, MBE is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Division of Emergency Medicine, at Nationwide Children's Hospital. Dr. Gaw's research interests include analyzing child restraint misuse, studying the epidemiology of head traumas presenting to emergency departments in the United States, and assessing provider perceptions regarding injury prevention counseling in acute and primary care settings.

How to Become a Postdoctoral Research Fellow

When specific postdoctoral research fellow positions at CIRP are funded, their job descriptions are posted on this website's CIRP Employment Opportunities page, as well as on the Careers at CHOP web portal.

We also encourage you to reach out to -- and network with -- our scientists who share your research interests, whether they be topical, methodological or disciplinary. You can also reach out to CIRP Training Director Tom Seacrist regardless of the posting of specific positions at CIRP.

Become A Buddy

The CPA International Committee is seeking postdocs who have been at CHOP for at least 1 year and are interested in serving with the Postdoc Partner Program (P3) as a ‘buddy’ for an incoming international postdoc. Click here to apply. 

Watch this video from the CHOP Research Institute: