CIRP REU Alumni Stories
Students that spend the summer at CIRP as part of the Injury Science Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program remain connected to the Center and its staff. These students have gone on to pursue a variety of educational and professional opportunities, all with the backing of their CIRP mentors. Read about their experiences in these CIRP REU alumni stories:
CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Brianna Beulah
"During the summer of 2017, I had the opportunity to join the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) intern. I was privileged in having the tutelage of Dr. Tracy Waasdorp and Dr. Stephen Leff, with the PRAISE Team of the Violence Prevention Initiative (VPI), under whom I was provided a balance of clinical and research insight. I had exposure to the implementation of an evidence-based bullying intervention program, assisting with its delivery and subsequent data entry. Consequential to exploring such data, I was very intrigued by the potential relationship between emotion regulation and relational aggression, along with any corresponding gender differences. Thereafter, the majority of my time was dedicated toward transforming this curiosity into my independent study. I was equipped with enough guidance and autonomy to augment my research competencies in data cleaning and coding, statistical analysis, and proposal formulation and presentation. Thanks to the support and encouragement from the PRAISE Team and those at CIRP, I will be further preparing my project for conference submission.
I am currently a rising senior at Rowan University and will be graduating with a BS in Psychology with a Women & Gender Studies concentration. My time here at CIRP as an REU student has allowed me favorable circumstances that have yielded acumen and advice from varying professional domains, intensifying my pre-existing passions for trauma-informed care, research and the continual acquisition of knowledge. It has ultimately solidified my aspirations of pursuing post-bac research opportunities before proceeding toward a PhD in Clinical Psychology. I am truly grateful for this experience and express my upmost appreciation toward everyone who has made it so worthwhile."
CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Caressa Wilson
“During the summer of 2017, I worked at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) as a part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program under the mentorship of Linda Fleisher and Eve Weiss. With my team I worked on several different projects. I was a part of the AWARE project that aims to increase the number of successful Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grant proposals submitted by women and minorities. I was responsible for identifying events, finding key contacts for insight, transcription of interviews, and qualitative data analysis using NVIVO. I also had a large role on the Merck Engage study. This is a long- lasting clinical study for patients with type two diabetes. My role was to perform data entry and patient follow-up calls.
I am a rising junior at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where I study Kinesiology. During these last 10 weeks of working at CIRP I gained invaluable experience in research. I was able to make networking connections at CHOP and had the opportunity to shadow four physical therapists in different concentrations at the hospital. I loved this experience, allowing me to confirm my passion to seek a career in physical therapy after I graduate. I gained an immense amount of knowledge in such a short period of time this summer. I am extremely grateful to everyone at CIRP who made my time here unforgettable.”
CHOP Mentor: Linda Fleisher, PhD, MPH; Eve Weiss, MS
CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Cecilia Poole
"Throughout my summer at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, I gained a vast amount of knowledge as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student. I was granted the privilege of working with Dr. Kristy Arbogast and Ronni Kessler on the Natural History of Youth Concussions project. My primary focus was on concussion recovery. I performed medical record abstractions using RedCap and CHOP’s Electronic Health Record to analyze the different courses of concussion recovery for children seen at CHOP. This allowed me to gain insight on all of the different concussion studies occurring simultaneously within the interdisciplinary field that is concussion research.
I am currently a rising junior studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Miami, and I plan to attend graduate school to further my engineering education and to possibly pursue a career in research. Outside of working on the concussion team, I was able to network with many different working professionals at CHOP, and I will utilize all of the research skills and connections I have gained during this REU experience. I am extremely grateful to have been apart of this REU program at CIRP because this has truly been an incredible, invaluable summer."CHOP Mentor: Kristy Arbogast, PhD; Ronnie Kessler, MSEd
CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Elaine Huang
"During my time at CIRP, I had the opportunity to work on an eclectic constellation of projects. Though I entered the program expecting to work solely with Dr. Linda Fleisher as a member of the Digital Health Initiative, my time at CIRP has been spent in other ways. I have been incredibly fortunate to receive mentorship from Eve Weiss, MS, whom I worked with to set up and perform qualitative analysis of interviews conducted for the AWARE project, an NSF-funded initiative that aims to boost successful grant applications from women and minority entrepreneurs. Through working closely with Research Coordinator Emily Sykes on the MerckEngage study, I learned about participant enrollment, recruitment, retention, and management of a large study database. I was thrilled to also work with Tom Seacrist, MBE to analyze near crash data among novice teen, young adult, and experienced adult drivers using SPSS and medCalc and to earn authorship on a manuscript submission to the Traffic Injury Prevention journal. Combined with my experience working with Aditya Belwadi, PhD, on conducting qualitative analysis on focus group data using NVIVO software, my time here at CIRP demonstrates the ample opportunity for interdisciplinary work available among the various research teams.
In the fall, I will be a junior at Lafayette College pursuing a double major in Neuroscience and Philosophy. My time at CIRP has granted me firsthand insight on the various processes that go into research. These insights will surely guide me in my future graduate school and research pursuits."CHOP Mentor: Linda Fleisher, PhD, MPH; Eve Weiss, MS; Thomas Seacrist, MBE
CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Erin Kennedy
"During the summer of 2017 I worked at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) intern. Under the mentorship of Dr. Catherine McDonald, I gained experience in child passenger safety and adolescent driving behaviors research on two collaborative teams. My role was to analyze data from a cross-sectional, observational study of parents of children ages 4 to 10 in order to determine factors that contribute to child passenger restraint system misuse, compare distracted driving behaviors while the car is motion versus stopped, and to gain an understanding of child passenger restraint system use in carpooling. I gained new software skills by using SPSS to determine associations between different factors contributing to child passenger restraint system misuse and distracted driving. I also had the opportunity to participate in group discussions with Dr. Linda Fleisher’s team about validating data from samples recruited online and helped create a resource for future CIRP teams who choose to recruit participants online.
I am a rising junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying nursing and healthcare management. The balance between REU programming and the opportunity to conduct my own research have provided me with a comprehensive understanding of the research process, careers in healthcare, and the path to graduate school. The professional relationships that I’ve fostered through the CHOP network and individualized mentoring with Dr. McDonald have been valuable in helping me determine the best career path to unify my interests in direct patient care and large scale healthcare system improvements. I have made the decision to continue working with Dr. McDonald’s research team in addition to my clinical coursework, and this experience solidified my choice to pursue a PhD in Nursing. I am so thankful to everyone at CIRP for welcoming me to the research community and for supporting both my professional and personal growth."
CHOP Mentor: Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN
CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Nicole Daly
“During the summer of 2017 I was given the wonderful opportunity to work with Dr. Catherine McDonald at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student. During that time, I worked on her web-based intervention for risky driving project to evaluate its feasibility for newly licensed teens using self-report questionnaires, simulated driving assessments, and crash and citation records.
My role in this project over my 10 weeks at CIRP was to help code the driving simulation and eye tracking data previously collected. Specifically, I worked with coding the eye glance duration and frequency of participants after a distraction event was prompted. In addition to my work with Dr. McDonald this summer, I also learned about other projects throughout CIRP and gained valuable knowledge about the research process.
Currently I am in my senior year at Arcadia University, pursuing a BA in Psychology. The REU program has solidified my decision to continue my education and obtain my PhD in Clinical Psychology. Through this program, I have gained a greater appreciation for research and all that goes into it. I value the time I spent at CIRP this summer and the knowledge I will carry into my future endeavors.”CHOP Mentor: Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN
CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Ridhi Sahani
"Being a part of the Center for Injury Research and Prevention during the summer of 2017 was truly an invaluable experience. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work under the mentorship of Thomas Seacrist and with everyone involved in the REU program. As a Biomedical Engineering major, I worked in the Engineering Core and was able to dip my toes in a few projects, such as the SHRP2 Naturalistic Driving Study and the Low Acceleration Time Extended (LATE) Project.
My time was mainly spent on the LATE project, where I participated in data collection and was exposed to working with human volunteers. I also gained skills in 3D Motion Capture and data processing in MATLAB. After analyzing the data collected, I was able to follow through with my own research question and to submit an abstract on those findings, The Influence of Bracing on Kinematic Response of Occupants in Pre-Crash Evasive Swerving Maneuvers.
As I return to Bucknell University for my senior year, I know I am much better prepared for my future. I am very thankful for the technical and professional skills I have gained from working at CIRP, as well as the incredible connections I’ve made. This exposure to biomechanics and injury prevention has encouraged me to pursue a graduate degree in Biomechanics."CHOP Mentor: Thomas Seacrist, MBE
CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Tristan Gilbert
“During the summer of 2017, I worked as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). I worked on several projects with Dr. Aditya Belwadi as a mentor. These ranged from product design focus groups to driving simulator data analysis, with the majority of my time spent preparing manuscripts to be submitted to peer-reviewed journals and compiling data in MATLAB.
I also had a side project with Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Elliot Greenberg and an embedded systems lab at the University of Pennsylvania, where we worked on developing a wearable device for tracking youth baseball players’ physical workload.
I am a rising sophomore at Vanderbilt University, where I study Mechanical Engineering and Research Biomechanics. I am excited to be taking technical writing, design, and analysis skills back to school with me. I plan on pursuing a graduate degree in Engineering following graduation, and I know that the professional connections I made both at CHOP and Penn will be valuable down the road.”CHOP Mentor: Aditya Belwadi, PhD, CPST
CIRP REU Training Testimonial - Veronica Valencia
"My time at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention enriched my research experience and exposed me to a career in big data analysis, including the possibility to help combine future data sources to help generate more insight into hospital and clinical care provided by CHOP.This summer I primarily spent my time extracting data from EPIC into RedCap to be used in future projects. As a team, we completed over 400 extractions and ran primary individual analysis on individual topics. Methodology of injury and symptoms served an important role in my analysis and provided me with future project questions to explore after CHOP. The possibility of tailoring individual recovery treatments to promote patient wellness with a basis of larger data sets can help us gain a new understanding of concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries. Research is the foundation of change and innovation in any field, and this summer I gained a new understanding and appreciation of the work and dedication needed to pursue a career in any aspect of research.
CHOP’s diverse and vast network connected me with many different departments and gave me access to many different professionals. The hospital tour and lectures supplemented my learning experience in understanding the bridge between research and clinical medicine. I am a rising junior at Wellesley College, where I study Economics and Cognitive Sciences with a concentration in Computer Science. The guidance that I received during my summer at CIRP provided me with invaluable experience for future research endeavors and opportunities."CHOP Mentor: Kristy Arbogast, PhD; Ronnie Kessler, MSEd
CIRP Training Testimonial - Lauren D'Arinzo
"During my summer at CIRP as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Intern, I worked under two PIs, Dr. Allison E. Curry and Dr. Kristy Arbogast. With Dr. Curry’s team, I have been involved in a follow-up query to the team’s former conclusion that adolescents with ADHD are at a higher risk for adverse driving outcomes than adolescents without ADHD. I was responsible for identifying potential confounding covariates which might help to explain why members of this subgroup have a greater risk of adverse driving outcomes compared to their non-ADHD peers. In my work with Dr. Arbogast’s team, I assisted with data collection in the form of medical chart abstractions from CHOP electronic health records, which will now be used to draw conclusions about the natural history of youth concussions, specifically in outcomes among children who have experienced multiple lifetime concussions.
I am a rising senior at Franklin & Marshall College, where I study Mathematics and Public Health. The anecdotal advice and guidance that I have received while working at CIRP has been invaluable to my holistic understanding of research and the breadth of different graduate programs relating to injury science and public health. This experience has solidified my desire to pursue a graduate degree in Biostatistics and has allowed me to appreciate the importance of collaboration in an interdisciplinary research team."CHOP Mentor: Kristy Arbogast, PhD; Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH
CIRP Training Testimonial - Benjamin Varone
"During the summer of 2016, I worked at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Intern. I had the privilege to work under the mentorship of Dr. Aditya Belwadi. A project I worked on was the Side Impact Project, focusing on performing data analysis using MATLAB. I was also tasked with verifying a finite element model of a side impact crash using data from sled testing performed with the same test conditions. The other project I worked on was The Harness Tensioner Project, focusing on using REDCap for recruitment purposes, as well as NVivo for data analysis of the transcribed focus groups.
I gained invaluable information during my 10-week stay at CIRP. This experience has helped me further develop my research and engineering skills, which I will be taking back with me to The College of New Jersey where I am majoring in Biomedical Engineering. I have also made the decision that I want to pursue research, specifically injury science research, as I look to continue my education by attending graduate school after I receive my undergraduate degree in May of 2017. I plan to apply for a MS in either Mechanical Engineering or Biomedical Engineering, with a focus on biomechanics and injury prevention. I will cherish the relationships that I have gained from my short time at CIRP, and I want to thank everyone for making this experience such a great one."CHOP Mentor: Aditya Belwadi, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial - Cleanthe (Cleo) Kordomenos
"During the summer of 2016 I had the opportunity to join the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) as part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Leff, Dr. Tracy Waasdorp, and Dr. Krista Mehari, I gained invaluable experience in the field of injury science research through evidence-based bullying intervention programs. While assisting the team with extensive literature reviews and qualitative data analysis from focus groups, I was also able to conduct my own exploratory analysis on the association between parenting practices and childhood bullying. Thanks to the support of the amazing minds in the Center as well as my team, I am able to continue working on this project and prepare it for conference submission. I can say with great confidence that my experience with CIRP this summer has cultivated my passion for research and because of this experience I will go on to pursue a career grounded in research.
I am currently a rising senior at The College of New Jersey, and I will be graduating with a B.A. in Communication Studies with minors in Public Health and English. I plan to continue working in research before going on to pursue advanced degrees in Public Health. CIRP@CHOP provided me with such an amazing experience this summer, and I owe my future success to the skills and knowledge gained during my time here. I hope to return to Philadelphia one day to continue translating research into improved child health outcomes. Thank you again to the amazing team at CIRP, especially the bullying intervention team, and to CHOP for providing me with a culture so conducive to learning."CHOP Mentor: Stephen Leff, PhD, Tracy Waasdorp PhD, MEd, and Krista Mehari
CIRP Training Testimonial - Ethan Douglas
"During the summer of 2016 I was given the opportunity to work at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) under the tutelage of Thomas Seacrist and Dr. Kristy Arbogast. As a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) intern and a member of the Engineering Core at CIRP, I was fortunate to be able to contribute to multiple research projects. My engineering skills were put to the test as my team and I constructed a device which mimics the events prior to a car crash. I was responsible for setting up the motion capture system in order to track the kinematics of participants while the device is in motion. I gained valuable programming experience as well, as I was tasked with writing a customized script in MATLAB to blur the faces of participants from our data collection videos. I also worked extensively with the Strategic Highway Research Program (SHRP2), a large naturalistic driving data set. This greatly improved my data analysis and statistics skills, both in MATLAB and Microsoft Excel.
Throughout the summer I was forced to learn new things, pick up new skills, and above all else, problem-solve. My 10-weeks here could not have been better spent, and I have grown extensively, both as a person and as an independent researcher. This experience has significantly strengthened my conviction to pursue a career in biomechanics research. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology from the University of Arkansas in 2017, I plan to attend a graduate research program in Biomechanics. I look forward to bringing the research skills I strengthened this summer to wherever I decide to pursue my next step."CHOP Mentor: Thomas Seacrist, MBE; Kristy Arbogast, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial - Kendall Seigworth
"I was granted the wonderful opportunity to work on the Natural History of Youth Concussions project with Kristy Arbogast, PhD and Ronni Kessler, MSEd. My primary work has been abstracting data from medical charts for retrospective analysis of children treated for one or multiple concussions within the CHOP network from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2015. I have also had the opportunity to start a literature review on concussion in children ages 0-4. I have attended CIRP team meetings on concussion studies, participated in conference calls with the CDC, and I had the opportunity to attend the 4th Annual Big Ten-Ivy League Traumatic Brain Injury Research Collaboration Summit to learn more about current concussion research across the country.
Outside of gaining more research skills and gathering more knowledge about concussion specifically, I learned a lot about injury science on a broad scale. I think what makes the CIRP team particularly successful is the interdisciplinary nature of the research. Research and knowledge is gathered from the medical sciences, biology, engineering, public health, epidemiology, statistics, psychology, social work, and sociology in collaboration to create a well-rounded, holistic understanding of injury in children. I appreciate the variety of professions and perspectives that can be tapped into here at CIRP.
I feel that my time at CIRP has helped me solidify my interest in Public Health, Epidemiology, and Medical Sociology. I know now that I want to go to graduate school and gain even more skills in these fields in preparation for a career in making positive, lasting impacts on people’s lives. I am so grateful for my opportunity to work at CIRP, not only for the experience and career networking opportunities, but also for the uplifting interactions I had with everyone within this institution."CHOP Mentor: Kristy Arbogast, PhD; Ronni Kessler, MSEd
CIRP Training Testimonial - Taylor Eisenstein
"During the summer of 2016, I worked as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) intern at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) under the mentorship of Dr. Allison E. Curry and research coordinators Meghan Kirk and Siobhan Gruschow. I assisted on a study investigating the effects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and disruptive behavior disorders, such as Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and Conduct Disorder (CD) on teen driving outcomes. My tasks included chart abstractions via the Epic electronic health record system and the Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap) database. Performing chart abstractions provided me with a behind-the-scenes glimpse into patient visits from a doctor’s perspective. I also conducted scientific literature summaries. My experience at CIRP undeniably improved my research skills and expanded my knowledge regarding Injury Science. I had the opportunity to observe how multiple disciplines—epidemiology, engineering, and behavioral science—come together to solve complex problems.
Currently, I am studying Biology and Human Health at Emory University and will graduate in spring of 2018. Working at CIRP opened many opportunities for me, and I will continue to use the skills I’ve obtained from this summer as I grow and progress in my education. Thank you to everyone at CIRP for an amazing experience!"CHOP Mentor: Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH
CIRP Training Testimonial – Elizabeth (Tish) Hicks
“During my summer at CIRP@CHOP as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) student, I worked with Dr. Catherine McDonald on her web-based intervention for risky driving project. The goal of this project was to evaluate the feasibility of a web-based intervention for risky driving for newly licensed teens, which was measured via self-report questionnaires, simulated driving assessments, and crash and citation records.
I worked on many aspects of the project during my time at CIRP, including: creating a data dictionary with REDCap and Excel; video coding of driving simulation data; using SPSS for analysis of interrater reliability and intervention data; and using NVivo for qualitative analysis of free-response intervention data. I have expanded greatly on my previous research experience, learned new software and skills, had my first experience with video and qualitative data, and learned how to work in a large research team. For one piece of the project that I was able to work on independently, I analyzed our intervention data related to teen attitudes about risky driving behavior and discovered a few significant gender differences related to attitudes about risky driving.
My summer at CIRP has reaffirmed my interest in attending a PhD program in Clinical Psychology upon completing my BA in Psychology from Marist College. From my REU experience at CIRP, I’m excited to have gained a greater appreciation for the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration and to have learned strategies for how to move research beyond publishing to making real-world impacts with CIRP’s 'Research to Action' model.”CHOP Mentor: Catherine McDonald, PhD, RN
CIRP Training Testimonial - Rich Hanna
"I had the incredible opportunity to work with the Center for Injury Research and Prevention during the summer of 2014 under the Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program. I worked closely with the biomechanics engineering research team under my mentor, Dr. Aditya Belwadi, but also worked alongside various fellow employees and took advantage of the variety of experiences CIRP has to offer. My personal responsibilities this past summer involved two main projects. The first one tackled the digitization of child restraint systems (CRS) to create a virtual surrogate model representative of the entire CRS market. The second project involved investigation into the effects that side air bag exposure on child occupants involved in vehicle collisions. Both of these projects have given me great exposure to different programs and skills I hope to take with me throughout my career as well as an excellent introduction to safety standards and regulations within the automobile industry.
While I finish my senior year at Drexel University, I am continuing my experience here at CIRP on one of the previously mentioned projects under Dr. Belwadi’s tremendous guidance and supervision. CIRP has helped me to discover what the industry has to offer, how to interact with it, and has allowed me to feel even more at ease with my decision to pursue a career path in it. As a student in Drexel’s BS/MS program I look forward to my graduation in June 2015 when I will obtain a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering with an emphasis on Biomechanics. Additionally I am on course to complete an Engineering Management Certification at the graduate level and this past summer I have completed my Fundamentals of Engineering (FE) examination for which I hope to one day move on and obtain my Professional Engineering (PE) license. Everyone at CIRP has been extremely supportive and encouraging in all of these endeavors and I’m very thankful for my time here."
CHOP Mentor: Aditya Belwadi, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Alexandra Conway
"During my time at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, I had the tremendous opportunity to work under Dr. Mark R. Zonfrillo on research projects dealing with pediatric traumatic brain injuries and pediatric trauma-related disabilities. I gained valuable exposure to the fundamentals of administrative database injury research, injury severity scoring systems, and scientific literature summary writing. In particular, I contributed to the creation of an extensive data dictionary for a collaborative project with the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania. I also acquired proficiency in database design, specifically with Research Electronic Data Capture (REDCap). Prior to beginning my internship I was following a pre-med path; after such an immersion into the medical and research community, I have never been more excited and confident in my decision to pursue a career in medicine.
I must credit my mentor, Dr. Zonfrillo, for his guidance and continuous support and for truly inspiring my newfound interest in pediatric injury science research. Following graduation, I plan on applying to medical school to pursue a career in pediatrics and perhaps a joint PhD program. I am so grateful to my mentors and the staff at CIRP, as well as the connections I made with others in the CHOP community. Because of this incredible experience, I am confident the skills, knowledge and mentorship I have gained will be invaluable to me as I pursue a career in pediatric medicine and research."CHOP Mentor: Mark R. Zonfrillo, MD, MSCE
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Christine Evangelista
"During the summer of 2013, I participated in the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention under the mentorship of Dr. Aditya Belwadi. I worked on many engineering projects at the center, but I mainly focused on conducting a literature review about how side air bags affect child passengers in car crashes. I enjoyed the unique, multidisciplinary environment at CIRP, and my experience has inspired me to pursue a career in applied mathematics research. I am currently a junior at Elizabethtown College, where I am double majoring in Mathematics and Physics. My time at CIRP will prove to be invaluable as I continue my education and develop my career."CHOP Mentor: Aditya Belwadi, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Dakota Jones
"I had the great pleasure of working at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program award recipient from June to August 2013. I had the privilege of working under Dr. Kristy Arbogast and Tom Seacrist. During my stay at CIRP I evaluated the biofidelity of pediatric anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs or “test dummies”) during the event of a low-speed car crash. This is crucial due to the lack of current data that verifies ATD biofidelity in low-speed crashes.
The experiences that I gained at CIRP have proven to be invaluable as I move on to the next stage of my career. The technical aspect of the summer has greatly aided me in my research projects as I continue my studies at Syracuse University. The seminars, shadowing surgeries, and lectures have all been crucial in my decision to pursue a PhD in Bioengineering. Never before have I experienced a working environment like CIRP, where everybody was helpful and truly determined to make a difference in children’s lives everywhere. As I apply to graduate school, I thank CIRP for helping me grow as a researcher and as a person."CHOP Mentor: Kristy Arbogast, PhD; Thomas Seacrist, MBE
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Erin Song
"During my internship at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, I worked with my mentor, Dr. Joel Fein, on the Violence Intervention Program (VIP), offering case management services following violence-related injuries. I focused on developing a qualitative analysis of the program notes to study the post-assault needs of violently injured youth and the systemic barriers and facilitators of violence prevention. Studying these themes helped me better understand the scope and variety of problems linked to violence in communities and that a successful violence intervention requires interdisciplinary and sustainable approaches. I was also inspired by the VIP’s 'trauma-informed approach' which targets the trauma underlying youth violence and addresses how this influences individual needs and treatment.
Since my internship, I have been using and developing the insights I gained at CIRP about trauma-informed assessment and treatment as a volunteer for the Bridging Program at the Yale-New Haven Hospital, a program providing psycho-education and therapy for families and children following incidents of sexual abuse. As I engage with families and children entering the program and continue my pre-medical studies at Yale, I have been able to appreciate learning more about healing that not only addresses medical needs, but also goes beyond them by considering context and accounting for emotional and social needs, environmental factors, community resources, and more. I have gained so much from my summer at CIRP, and I would like to thank Dr. Fein, Rachel, Laura, Jenna, and the rest of the VIP team for helping me make the most of my REU experience and for their meaningful work in the Philadelphia community."CHOP Mentor: Joel Fein, MD, MPH
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Jeffrey Friedman
"During the summer of 2013, I interned at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention through the Research Experiences for Undergraduates Program under the mentorship of Dr. Yi-Ching Lee, Dr. Aditya Belwadi, and Dr. Flaura Winston. I performed an extensive literature review on teen risk behavior and assisted in the initial study design for an investigation of the effect of positive reinforcement on teen driving behavior. Throughout the summer, I gained invaluable experience in research design and methods selection.
One of the highlights of my time at CIRP was working with the CHOP IRB to develop the study protocol. I plan to pursue a career in research, and this experience will be important in my future work. In the fall of 2013 I graduated from the University of Michigan with a BSE in Biomedical Engineering and I am continuing my studies to earn a MSE in Biomedical Engineering. In the future, I plan to pursue a medical degree and a career as a physician scientist. The skills and experience that I have gained through CIRP have expanded my understanding of clinical and translational research as well as their effect on public policy and public safety."CHOP Mentor: Dr. Yi-Ching Lee PhD; Dr. Aditya Belwadi, PhD; Flaura Winston, MD, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Katie Casty
"During my summer as an REU student at CIRP, I worked with Dr. Yi-Ching Lee on a study aimed at understanding the effects of peer passengers on teenage drivers’ responses to stressful traffic events and risk-taking tendencies. I focused on understanding how teenage participant pairs interacted with each other and on analyzing drivers’ eye movements during a driving simulation. As a junior at Muhlenberg College with plans to pursue a graduate degree in Statistics or Biostatistics, I feel that my summer at CIRP has given me a better understanding of my field and injury science as a whole.
I gained experience in working with human subjects, following IRB protocols, literature review, survey collection, coding, eye tracking, and general data management. I will continue to use these skills as I continue my research throughout college and into my professional career. Dr. Lee and others at CIRP have influenced me to shift my educational and career interests towards mathematics, statistics, public health, and pediatric medicine."CHOP Mentor: Yi-Ching Lee, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial - Gabrielle Loeb
"Since participating in REU in the summer of 2011 under the mentorship of Dr. Flaura Winston, my research at CIRP has enabled me to gain further experience by presenting at the American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and by training nonprofits to use the same online dissemination techniques that gave us such success with www.aftertheinjury.org. Further pursuing my interest in medicine, I spent a summer volunteering at Einstein Medical Center and focused my Senior Thesis on the History of Organ Donation in France. After graduating from Princeton magna cum laude with a major in French and Italian and a minor in Neuroscience, I am thrilled to officially embark on my career as a medical student at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons."CHOP Mentor: Dr. Flaura Winston
CIRP Training Testimonial - Shani Gardner
"During the summer of 2013, I was a Research Experiences for Undergraduates Intern at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention. Under the mentorship of Dr. Steven Leff, I gained Qualitative research experience on the “Better Understanding Cyber Bullying:Youth, Parent and Provider Perceptions” Project. My responsibilities included managing data using SPSS and Nvivo; collaborating with interdisciplinary team members to code and analyze themes in interviews; and translating qualitative data into usable resources for parents and providers. Through the REU experience I was able to gain networking skills and build long-lasting connections, which led to my position as a Clinical Research Assistant on Dr. Leff’s research team after graduating from Temple University in 2014.
Over the past three years, I have been involved in various Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) projects. Currently I am a school-based facilitator for a bullying prevention program, working with 3rd, 4th and 5th graders in Philadelphia public schools, as well as a Research Coordinator for a small grant investigating Adverse Childhood Experiences and Neurological Delays. During my time here at CHOP, I have been given the opportunity to work with researchers and doctors within the Violence Prevention Initiative, learning all the components of CBPR and how to work collaboratively with communities to best support them. Because of the REU program, I have been afforded opportunities to work at CHOP for several years beyond that summer, building valuable relationships and learning essential skills for working in research. I plan to take all that I have learned and am excited to pursue the next step in my education. I will be attending the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice to pursue a master's degree in Social Work in the Fall of 2017."CHOP Mentor: Steven Leff, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Ika Kovacikova
“During my internship with Dr. Joel Fein at CIRP during the summer of 2012, I saw firsthand the importance of collaboration and communication to the multidisciplinary field of public health. I learned how to turn research results into discrete action steps that improve public health and/or inform further research. I learned that being organized, asking questions, and persevering are all important characteristics for successful research. Because of this, I am confident that CIRP provided me with a strong foundation for any future research endeavors.
On a more personal level, I saw firsthand how big of a difference a violence intervention program can make in the life of a minor. As a four-year varsity swimmer and captain on the Wellesley College Swim Team, I was inspired to combine my love for swimming with my newfound respect for violence intervention. On August 19, 2013, I successfully swam the English Channel in an effort to raise funds and awareness for violence intervention research.
While training for the English Channel this past summer, I also interned with Dr. David Ansell at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, IL as a 'Health Disparities Research Fellow.' Through social epidemiology, sociology, critical race theory, and biology literature, I explored how the social and physical structures that shape society can impact health. My research efforts contributed to the building of new chapters in a new book aiming to illuminate health disparities in urban centers.
I am very grateful for both of these summer opportunities because they helped me recognize the potential for physicians to catalyze change within their communities. As a pre-medical student, I now hope to not only bridge the gap between patients and their treatment, but also to bridge communities with the medical institutions that exist to serve them.”CHOP Mentor: Joel A. Fein, MD, MPH
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Amanda Parks
"During the summer of 2012, I worked at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates intern under the mentorship of Dr. Stephen Leff. I worked on several community-based participatory research projects over the summer, but my main responsibilities included assisting with literature reviews on a newly funded cyberbullying grant, as well as on preschool-based prevention and intervention programming on socioemotional outcomes. Because of my proximity, I was able to return as a student researcher for the 2012-13 school year, and I gained clinical experience in the field as a co-facilitator of the Preventing Relational Aggression In Schools Everyday (PRAISE) intervention at a West Philadelphia elementary school. In May 2013, I completed my Honors Psychology Program thesis and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. My experience at CIRP was invaluable because it taught me about interdisciplinary research and how to properly network, and it gave me skills and amazing connections, which will make me a strong candidate in the future when pursuing a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology."CHOP Mentor: Stephen Leff, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Danielle Grams
“In the summer of 2012, I was a Research Experiences for Undergraduates intern at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention. Under the direction of Dr. Jessica Mirman, I assisted on a psychology-based study evaluating the proper use of car seats. Throughout the summer I gained experience with a variety of components of the research project including survey design, recruitment, data management, and data collection. I especially enjoyed the interdisciplinary nature of CIRP because it illustrated to me how people with differing research backgrounds can come together to solve complex problems. I am currently a senior at the University of South Florida where I will graduate in the spring with a degree in Biology. This experience has further fueled my desire to become an academic physician and combine my interests in research, clinical practice and teaching."CHOP Mentor: Jessica Mirman, PhD; Kristy Arbogast, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Elizabeth Hedges
"During the summer of 2012 I was a Research Experiences for Undergraduates intern at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention under the mentorship of Dr. Mark Zonfrillo. I had the opportunity to work on several projects including compiling an extensive literature review on how age at injury affects functional outcome following a traumatic brain injury, coding of a survey distributed by Safe Kids to better understand child passenger safety misuse, and coding of a survey designed to acquire information on the demographics of users of the Safety Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Through my experiences I gained a better understanding of translational research and of the many possibilities for practicing physicians to engage in research. I graduated in May 2013 from Cornell University with honors in Biological Sciences, as well as a degree in Chemistry. I began medical school at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences in the fall of 2013. I am grateful for my experiences at CIRP and know that the skills and mentorship I received will help me immensely as I pursue a career in pediatric medicine and research."CHOP Mentor: Mark Zonfrillo, MD, MSCE
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Jessica Harrington
"In my time as an intern at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, I worked under the mentorship of Dr. Aditya Belwadi primarily on the Rollover Project which seeks to determine the sources and risk of injury sustained by children in motor vehicle rollover crashes. My focus with the project was to aid in the development of finite element models using Hypermesh and running computer simulations through LS-DYNA of frontal, offset, and rollover crash scenarios, including some with child occupant models embedded. As a rising senior, I am currently a Mechanical Engineering major at the University of Delaware with a minor in Biomedical Engineering. I recently began an internship at DuPont Company where I will perform experimental testing and finite element modeling of composite materials. Following graduate school for my MS in Mechanical Engineering, I plan to pursue a career in the fields of mechanical engineering and mdicine. I am so grateful for my research experience at CIRP, which provided me with valuable career experience and honed my desire to initiate a positive change in medical science."CHOP Mentor: Aditya Belwadi, PhD; Kristy Arbogast, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Julianne Lewis
"During the summer of 2012, I worked at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) as a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) intern under the mentorship of Dr. Allison E. Curry. I was involved in the epidemiologic evaluation of a teen driver Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law. One of my specific tasks was to conduct an in-depth literature review, which gave me valuable skills that I still use today. A large portion of my time during the internship involved grouping the different citations from a database in Microsoft Excel. Once I completed that task, I started to categorize the groups in the statistical software SAS. I am currently a senior at Cheyney University, and my anticipated date of graduation is May 2014. My internship experience at CIRP helped me develop a passion for research, and I have completed a study--College Students’ Desire for Money and Professional Success and Students’ Subjective Well-being. I submitted a proposal to the American Psychological Association (APA), and it was accepted to present at the Annual National Convention. Since my internship I have received two awards: The Professional Development Award and The Women’s Soroptimist Award. My future plans include attending a PhD program in Psychology or Educational Psychology, and my career goal is to be a university professor."CHOP Mentor: Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Nishi Mehta
"During my time at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention, I was involved in studies targeting secondary prevention of posttraumatic stress and the promotion of optimal recovery in children and families experiencing acute medical trauma or chronic illness. This instilled in me a passion for translational research, and I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have received the mentorship and support of Dr. Meghan Marsac and Dr. Nancy Kassam-Adams. I will be spending the next year as a visiting student in the department of Experimental Psychology at Oxford University before returning to complete my undergraduate degree at Tufts University. In the future, I hope to pursue a doctorate in Clinical Psychology and to try to continue to positively impact the lives of children as my colleagues this past summer at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia do every day."CHOP Mentor: Meghan Marsac, PhD; Nancy Kassam-Adams, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Oluwabukola Famakinwa
"During the summer of 2012, I worked on the TeenDrivingPlan(TDP) 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. My specific tasks were coding information into a qualitative data program and helping with recruiting the 500 participants needed for the study. I am currently a senior at the University of Maryland College Park, where I am completing my last set of courses for my major in Neurobiology and Physiology, as well as Human Development. I am actively involved in many organizations, and I was recently recommended by a former professor to apply for a research position in the Laboratory for Scientific Thinking, Reasoning, and Education due to my outstanding research experience at CIRP. After graduation, I plan on applying to medical school to pursue a career as a family practitioner and perhaps a joint PhD program. I am extremely grateful for the time I was able to spend at CIRP, for the knowledge and research skills I was able to gain throughout my experience, and for the great mentors and staff with which I had the privilege of working. Interning at CIRP has changed my overall perspective about research, and I am grateful to everyone who contributed to my wonderful experience."CHOP Mentor: Jessica Mirman, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Alec McGinley
Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Student (2011)
Student Researcher (September 2011-May 2012)
Full-time CIRP employee (May 2012-June 2013)
"My work at CIRP began as part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program and continued throughout my senior year at the University of Pennsylvania. Working with Dr. Mark Zonfrillo, Dr. Kristy Arbogast, and their team, my primary focus was the project ‘Minds Matter: Improving Pediatric Concussion Management.’ The mentorship I received at CIRP really opened my eyes to the opportunities to combine research with clinical practice, something that I plan to pursue. My work also afforded me the privileges of presenting at conferences and submitting a co-authored paper that is currently under review. After graduation, I returned to CIRP to serve as the research coordinator on the ‘Minds Matter’ project. I am set to begin medical school at Thomas Jefferson University, where I am confident that the research skill set I have acquired at CIRP will be an asset."CHOP Mentor: Mark Zonfrillo, MD, MSCE; Kristy Arbogast, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Gabriela Romero
"During my summer internship at CIRP, I helped evaluate the effectiveness of a violence prevention program for adolescents in West and Southwest Philadelphia and gained a great appreciation for community-based participatory research. I was inspired by my coworkers' passion for working with and helping the community, as well as my personal interactions with the youth in the program. This has led me to want to work in the future on community-based participatory research, particularly with underserved populations. The skills and experiences I acquired during my time at CIRP will be invaluable in both the completion of my undergraduate degree and my future pursuit of a doctoral degree in Psychology."CHOP Mentor: Stephen Leff, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Kellyann Martin
"As a part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates program at CIRP, I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Yi-Ching Lee on her research examining how stress reactions of novice drivers can increase their likelihood of driving error. Working on these influential projects has provided me with an appreciation for injury science research and an interest in continuing my career with a focus in health psychology. I am now pursuing my master's degree in Clinical Psychology and am confident the skills and knowledge I have gained from my experience at CIRP will be beneficial as I continue my career."CHOP Mentor: Yi-Ching Lee, PhD
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Melanie Ward
"I have gained valuable exposure to translational research from my time as part of the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program at CIRP. It has inspired me to continue to pursue professional and academic work in public health and injury prevention. As I complete my undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, I plan to pursue further research assistantships in health services and/or behavioral interventions research before applying to graduate school for public health. I am also helping to encourage other undergraduates to pursue research and advanced degrees as a Peer Research Instructor for the Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program at the University of Michigan."CHOP Mentor: Mark Zonfrillo, MD, MSCE
CIRP Training Testimonial -- Jenny Smolen
Summer Student Volunteer (2010)
Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Student (2011)
"While working at CIRP during the summer of 2010, and as an REU student during the summer of 2011, I worked with Dr. Joel Fein on the ‘Safe Neighborhood Tips’ project. I assisted in several steps of the project, from helping edit the tips to assessing potential dissemination methods and eventually running and analyzing the project's Facebook page. My experience has deepened my understanding and interest in community-based research and how new media can aid and foster that partnership. The freedom and support I was given within my project gave me confidence to pursue a career in research, and the next summer I applied for a Fulbright Scholarship. In February of 2014 I will begin working on community-based research projects in Feira de Santana, Brazil and taking classes with a Master's in Community Health program there."CHOP Mentor: Joel Fein, MD