Injury Research Intern/Research Assistant (2013-2016)
"Between the fall of 2013 and the spring of 2016, I worked primarily with Dr. Aditya Belwadi as part of my Drexel co-op experience, working first as a full-time Research Assistant and then continuing on part-time while still in classes. As a Mechanical Engineering student with interests and some experience in Biomechanics, I had been looking for a way to bridge the gap between the Mechanical Engineering curriculum and a more human-centric line of work. In the beginning of my time with CIRP I focused primarily on learning the techniques of Finite Element Analysis (FEA) and developing computational models of both Rollover and Side Impact vehicle crashes. In both crash modes we were looking to understand how pediatric Anthropomorphic Test Devices (ATDs) interacted with the vehicle interiors through impact, as well as the effectiveness of Child Restraint Systems (CRS) and air bags in mitigating injury. The Side Air bag work was presented at the 10th and 12th Injury Biomechanics Symposium at The Ohio State University.
While a majority of my time was spent developing computational models, I also assisted in physical sled testing of ATDs and in analyzing electromyography (EMG) data collected during human subject testing. In addition to physical and computational testing, many of the projects I worked on involved the analysis of real world crash information collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A portion of this line of work led to the development of contact maps for pediatric occupants involved in rollover crashes which were published in Traffic Injury Prevention in 2014.
I was given the opportunity to develop and propose a project for funding to the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS) as a Student Principal Investigator during my second full-time co-op rotation at CIRP. I was fortunateto win funding for the project, which looked into the ways young adult drivers recruit their muscles and position their bodies during braking events on a driving simulator. This project was one of the first studies conducted that looked to combine the worlds of Biomechanics and Simulated Driving and will hopefully lead to further studies at CIRP.
My experience at CIRP working with Dr. Belwadi has helped push me to set my sights on higher degrees and to ultimately pursue a career in injury biomechanics research. Being able to work on such a diverse array of projects and having the opportunity to be involved in every aspect of a fully-funded, multi-year project has been invaluable and has aided me in continuing my next steps on my career path. After completing my undergraduate degree in June of 2016, I was hired as a Research Specialist in the Human Motion Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. There I am applying my knowledge of Biomechanics to human subjects and cadaveric specimens, aiming to increase clinicians’ ability to identify and treat musculoskeletal injury, as well as gain insight into the physical mechanisms that lead to injury. While I was sad to leave the wonderful people at CIRP who have helped me so much these past three years, I know that all of the lessons I’ve learned through working there have prepared me for what lies ahead."