Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Student Life at CIRP

Madeleine Gonzalez and Dr. Catherine C. McDonald
Injury Science 2019 REU Student Madeleine Gonzalez with CIRP Mentor Catherine C. McDonald, PhD, RN, FAAN

Research co-op student life at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) is anything but a "typical" research co-op or internship experience. CIRP's 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 Research Institute

Gabriel Nah participated in the Injury Science Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program during the summer of  2018 as a rising senior at Lincoln University.and was invited by the National Science Foundation to present on his work at its REU Symposium in October 2018. Under the mentorship of Akiva S. Cohen, PhD, Gabriel assisted in his traumatic brain injury (TBI) lab and learned new techniques and how to use new machinery. Here is what he has to say about CIRP research co-op student life: "My time spent at CIRP was not just work. All of the REU interns enjoyed hanging out with each other, and we took numerous trips around Philadelphia and beyond. Working with CIRP’s multidisciplinary team was amazing, and it truly made last summer unforgettable."

Janice Bonsu was pursuing her MPH at the University of Pennsylvania when she joined Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH's team as a research co-op. The team explored the perspectives and experiences of healthcare professionals who provide driving rehabilitation services to adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Here is what she has to say about CIRP research co-op student life: "What is special about working at a place like CIRP is the multidisciplinary approach it takes to combat the risks to children’s health. I sat only a few feet away from bioengineers, behavioral scientists, and epidemiologists. Although CIRP's research methods are distinct, all our united under the same mission. As a young professional, this type of work (and learning) environment has expanded my perception of how research should be conducted."

Read these blog posts from some of our research co-op students to learn about their experiences at CIRP:

CIRP Student Spotlight

Rahul Akkem

Rahul Akkem CIRP Student Trainee

“I started working at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) at the beginning of my sophomore year (November 2016). During my time at CIRP, I have worked with Dr. Valentina Graci and many other researchers on a Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS) project on manual takeover scenarios in sled-simulated self-driving scenarios. This study measures how participants react to a potentially catastrophic failure of autonomous technology, and we compare the participants' reactions to see how we can better improve their reaction times. In my role, I analyzed EMG signals from muscle activation in the programming language of MATLAB to determine muscle activation. I also contributed significantly to recruiting participants, running sled tests, and presenting data.

Coming into my sophomore year, I didn't expect to have the opportunity to be included in publications and have such an important role within the research team. In addition, I didn't expect to present my own analysis of EMG data at the Biomedical Engineering Society (BMES) Conference, where I also was able to attend various research presentations and learn more about other fields and topics within injury biomechanics. Overall, working at CIRP has given me a full understanding of how research is conducted from recruitment, to data collection, to analysis, to data presentation.

I am truly grateful for all of the experiences and opportunities I have been presented with at CIRP. By working with my team, I have gained valuable skills in analysis, presentation, programming, statistics, writing, and basic research. These opportunities have given me a great foundation to build upon in the future. 

Currently, I am in my junior year pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University. I am look forward to continuing my work at CIRP on future driving and passenger studies!”