I am an academician at the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine where I serve as Research Assistant Professor, Department of Neurological Surgery, and the Director of Education and Outreach at The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis.
My quest began in 2010, during my undergraduate scientific training (BS Kinesiology) with Dr. Todd A. Astorino at California State University (CSU) San Marcos. Concurrently, I serendipitously began working with people who have spinal cord injury (SCI) at a facility called Project Walk. I sought to combine my work in science and SCI, and subsequently was introduced to the work being done at The Miami Project. My target had been acquired.
After graduating from CSU San Marcos in 2013, my scientific training (MS Kinesiology) continued with Dr. Christine J. Dy at CSU Los Angeles. Dr. Dy is an expert in body weight support treadmill training, and my thesis on "interappendicular neurological coupling" focused on the role that arm-swings during locomotor rehab plays on muscle activity of paralyzed legs during assisted walking. In the summer of 2014 I was named a Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar and awarded funding to conduct a summer research fellowship at The Miami Project in the Applied Physiology Laboratory of Dr. Mark Nash. Thus the first chapter of my journey began.
After a fruitful summer fellowship, and successful defense of my Master's thesis; in 2015 I started my doctoral training (PhD Exercise Physiology) at the University of Miami under the advisement of Dr. Kevin A. Jacobs and Dr. Mark S. Nash. We continued with the study started during my summer fellowship, and then in 2017, during the sabbatical of Dr. James L.J. Bilzon, we launched the second of my dissertation studies titled Energetic Response to Feeding and Exercise in SCI (NCT03545867). In 2018, we were awarded a Craig H. Neilsen foundation grant to fund my primary dissertation project titled Postprandial Lipid Tracer and Exercise in Spinal Cord Injury (NCT03691532).
Following successful defense of my dissertation, I trained as a postdoctoral fellow for the Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation working at the Christine E. Lynn Rehabilitation Center for The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis on a project titled Spinal Cord Injury Exercise and Nutrition Conceptual Engagement (NCT03495986). My broad research interests pertain to the role of the central nervous system in regulating energy metabolism. Specifically, I aim to understand disorders of fat metabolism that are common in spinal cord injury (SCI). An understanding of disordered fat metabolism in this population can help guide treatments to improve the cardiometabolic health of persons with SCI, and can also be used to shed light on the role that neurological control plays in fat metabolism writ large.
Outside of academia I am a keen purveyor of adaptive outdoor recreation, a scuba diver and "adaptive dive buddy", and Co-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee for Therapeutic Scuba Institute, Inc.