My academic research focuses on studying the outcomes of rehabilitation interventions that employ novel robotic and virtual reality based technology to deliver care remotely. Specifically, my doctoral work combines ergonomic principles, bio-mechanical modeling and psychometric methods to develop (real-world & virtual-reality based) clinical assessment tools and sensor based quantitative metrics aimed at improving powered mobility driving behavior of people with significant mobility impairments.
HERL is an engineering laboratory focused on translational research. A collaborative center between the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System, the University of Pittsburgh, and the UPMC Health System. Founded in 1994, HERL is dedicated to wheelchair and associated rehabilitation technology research with a focus on improving the mobility and function of people with disabilities through advanced engineering in clinical research and medical rehabilitation.
I started with HERL as a research assistant in 2011, graduated the Master’s in Rehabilitation Science & Technology program, and began my doctoral education in Rehabilitation Science & Technology in 2012.
As a Graduate Student Researcher (2012-2018), I have been fortunate to have to worked on various projects at HERL that directly impact and improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. These diverse range of projects provided me an opportunity to work in four keys areas of rehabilitation research,
- Virtual reality & simulation based technology
- Adaptive sports,
- Assistive technology design & development
- Rehabilitation outcomes
Over the past six years at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, I have been fortunate to be involved with multiple interesting and exciting projects working with and for people with disabilities.
These projects have necessitated I learn and employ
- Qualitative research methods like interviews, focus groups and survey techniques
- Quantitative research methods to evaluate differences in perception of human performance
- The principles of psychometrics and ergonomics (or human factors engineering)
- Learn technical software packages like Solidworks to build CAD models and work with some of the phenomenal minds at HERL to build the CAREN, A simulation system that can aid design, develop and evaluate newer mobility devices.
These projects have helped me study and understand the diverse nature of human interaction with the environment, factors that enable these interactions, barriers that hinder them and the role of technology to overcome these barriers.
With some great mentoring from peers, colleagues and the wonderful mentors at HERL, my graduate student life has given me a unique opportunity to study the dynamic collaboration between humans, machines and the dynamic environments that they interact with each other, a field of work that has come to be known as the human-machine interaction over the recent years.