Center for Injury Research and Prevention

Student Life at CIRP

research co-op
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 research 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."

Shreyas Sarfare, MS joined CIRP as a biomechanics trainee under the mentorship of Valentina Graci, PhD in August of 2017 after completing his Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. During his time at CIRP, his research focused on developing computational models to understand the injury biomechanics of pediatric occupants in automobile crashes. Here is what he has to say about CIRP research trainee life: "My time at CHOP gave me the opportunity to contribute to improving child passenger safety. In our quest towards achieving zero deaths due to vehicle crashes, every step makes a difference, and my work at CIRP enabled me to contribute toward that goal. The research experience I gained in the process was very rewarding and helped prepare me to pursue my PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Texas A&M University. I hope to continue contributing to the advancement of research while pursuing my graduate studies and beyond."

Read these blog posts from some of our student trainees to learn about their experiences at CIRP:

Madeline Griffith CIRP Student Trainee


“Upon joining Center for Injury Research and Prevention’s (CIRP) Biomechanical Engineering Training Program in 2018, I primarily worked in data collection on the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS)-funded project, “Can the Startle Reflex be Manipulated to Reduce Take-over Time in Pre-crash Scenarios for Autonomous Driving?” During Year 2 of the project, I was able to take on more responsibility and build on many of the technical skills I was learning at the University of Pennsylvania. I worked on creating modifications to prepare for further data collection and fixing electronics on the sled device – the structure designed to safely provide acceleration to the human volunteers.

One element of my training experience that equally complemented my education and fueled my passion for the field was the opportunity I had to present on the startle reflex research at The Ohio State University’s Injury Biomechanics Symposium in 2019. Another aspect of my training experience that I found to be helpful in shaping my career was the level of inclusivity and mentorship that’s built into CIRP’s culture.

In my new role as a Research Project Engineer at CIRP, I’m working on a few projects aimed at understanding how vehicle warning systems affect the biomechanics of drivers, how passenger biomechanics are influenced by automated and manual pre-crash maneuvers, and how child passenger kinematics vary in different seating arrangements. I’m so thrilled to continue to work in the research areas for which I've developed such a passion alongside a fantastic team.”