Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Postdoctoral Research Training Program in Injury Prevention

Former postdoctoral research trainee Elizabeth Walshe, PhD oversees research on the teen brain and driving, including neural activity, at CHOP's MEG lab.

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, our postdoctoral research training participants 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 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 at CHOP has also been the research home for CHOP’s Clinical Fellows who are interested in applying CIRP's research methods to develop solutions to unintentional and intentional injury.

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 with shared research interests. This provides a rich, multidisciplinary scientific environment. We collaborate with the Penn Injury Science Center and The Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Tricia R. Roby, PhD, ATC, Research Postdoctoral Fellow

Training: Human Movement Science

Research Project: Evaluation of Objective Measures for Enhanced Diagnosis and Management of Pediatric Concussion

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

Funding: The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Research Institute

Emma Sartin, PhD, MPH, CPST, Research Postdoctoral Fellow

Training: Lifespan Developmental Psychology

Research Project: Autism ETA (Evaluating Transportation Among Adolescents)

Mentors: Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH

Funding: Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Olivia E. Podolak, MD

Training: Medicine

Research Project: Evaluation of Objective Measures for Enhanced Diagnosis and Management of Pediatric Concussion

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

Funding: Pennsylvania Department of Health

Graduates of the Postdoctoral Research Training Program at CIRP

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.

Valentina Graci, PhD is a Research Scientist in Biomechanics at CIRP. Dr. Graci completed her postdoctoral training at CIRP in 2018. During her post-doctoral training, 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, a former research scientist at CIRP currently working at Tesla, completed his post-doctoral training at CIRP in 2013. During his training he was instrumental in developing advanced finite element computational modeling capabilities at the Center. 

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. During her time at CIRP, 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 post-doctoral fellowships with training at University of Pennsylvania (PENN) and CIRP in 2014. During her post-doctoral training, she led the development of the Simulated Driving Assessment. She is currently 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.

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 in 2017 and is now an Attending Physician in same department. 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 a Pediatric Emergency Medicine Fellow Physician at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). 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.