P Personnel



Project Directors

David M. Brienza, PhD, Director

Dr. Brienza is Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology with additional professorial appointments in Bioengineering and the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Brienza received the B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame in 1986, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia in 1988 and 1991, respectively. From 1987 to 1991 he worked as a research assistant at the REC on Wheeled Mobility at the University of Virginia. In 1991 he joined the faculty at University of Pittsburgh Dr. Brienza has been working in the fields of wheelchair R&D, pressure ulcer prevention, and seat cushion and support surface R&D since 1987. He has made significant contributions in the areas of cushion design, standard test methods, and soft tissue biomechanics. He has consulted for several companies developing seat cushions and support surfaces, and serves as a consultant to the SADMERC for seat cushion, mattress, and wheelchair coding policy. His research and development experience includes being principle investigator of two NIH R01 grants, several NIH SBIR grants, an two NIDRR FIR grants, and a PVA grant among others. Within the RERC structure, he has served in numerous roles including student researcher, co-investigator, task leader and, Co-director, and Director.

Dr. Brienza has chaired the RESNA special interest group on seating and mobility and is a former member of the Board of Directors of the National Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (NPUAP), where he served as Chair of the NPUAP Research Committee. Dr. Brienza played a major role in the initiation of NPUAP’s Support Surface Standards Initiative to develop standards for support surfaces (e.g., beds, mattress replacement systems). Dr. Brienza currently serves as Chair for the Working Group on Tissue Integrity and Co-chair for the entire initiative. He has also served as vice-chair of the RESNA Wheelchair Standards sub-committee on seat cushions, and, is a former member of the RESNA Board of Directors. Dr. Brienza’s professional services also include service on several editorial boards for prominent journals, and participation in extramural funding peer review for NIDRR, NIH, PVA, EPVA, NSF, and Dept. of Commerce. Dr. Brienza is appointed as Adjunct Professor at Xi’an Jiaotong University, Xi’an, China.

Patricia E. Karg, MS, BSME, Associate Director

Ms. Karg received the B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in 1990, and the M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1993. Ms. Karg is currently a Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. Ms. Karg performs research in the area of wheelchair technology including seating, mobility, and the motor-vehicle safety of individuals transported seated in a wheelchair. She is currently Associate Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheelchair Transportation Safety. Ms. Karg has also participated in research involving the development and application of instrumentation for the in vivo measurement and assessment of biomechanical properties of buttock soft tissue. She performs clinical and laboratory evaluations of commercial and prototype wheelchair seat cushions for commercial sponsors and is currently involved in a randomized control trial for pressure reducing cushions.

She is actively involved in and provides research support for the development of performance and safety standards for assistive technology. Ms. Karg serves as a member of the RESNA Technical Standards Board, Wheelchair Seating Standards Committee (Chair, 2002-2006) and Wheelchair Transportation Standards Committee. Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh faculty, Ms. Karg worked as a Project Engineer for ECRI, Plymouth Meeting, PA performing comparative evaluations of medical technology, establishing safety and performance standards, and providing technical consultation to the healthcare community. Ms. Karg began her career in the rehabilitation sciences as a graduate student at the University of Virginia were she performed research in the area of seating and the vehicle transport safety for individuals in wheelchairs.


Gary An, PhD

Dr. An graduated from the University of Miami, Florida School of Medicine in 1988, and did his surgical residency at Cook County Hospital/University of Illinois, Chicago, finishing in 1993. After a period of time in private practice in general surgery we returned to Cook County hospital in 1997 where he was a trauma/burn surgeon until October 2006, at which time he moved to his current position as an Assistant Professor of Surgery in the Division of Trauma/Critical Care at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He has been interested in the application of complex systems analysis to sepsis and inflammation since 1999, and worked primarily with using agent based modeling (ABM) to create mechanistic models of various aspects of the acute inflammatory response. He is very active in the ABM community, having been a member of the Swarm simulation community since 1999, and is an editor of the Swarm modeling Biomedical resource web page. He is a founding member of the Society of Complexity in Acute Illness (SCAI), and has worked closely with the Mathematical Modeling group from the University of Pittsburgh where he has been a visiting professor in their graduate level modeling course “A Systems Approach to Inflammation” since 2004. His early work in developing ABMs of acute inflammation was the initial basis for the current work at the University of Pittsburgh in developing ABMs of wound healing in both repetitive vocal chord trauma and diabetic wound healing. He is a faculty member of the Center for Inflammation and Regenerative Modeling (CIRM) at the McGowan Institute of Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. He is currently working on integrating multiple hierarchies of ABMs, developing a robust modeling grammar for translating the results of basic science experiments, automated text extraction and information extraction methods, and developing educational programs to promote the integration of modeling into the general scientific process.

Erica Authier, MSE

Ericais a graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh who is currently completing her PhD in Rehabilitation Science and Technology. Her research interests include upper extremity injury and fitness and its implications for persons with spinal cord injury. In 2003, Ms. Authier received her Bachelor of Science in Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh where she concentrated in Biosignals and Imaging and minored in Electrical Engineering. In 2008 she received her Master of Science in Bioengineering with a concentration in Rehabilitation Science.

Kath Bogie, D.Phil

Dr Bogie is a biomedical engineer whose research interests focus on translational research in the prevention and treatment of chronic wounds. Dr Bogie received her undergraduate degree from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology, Manchester, UK and her graduate degree from the University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.

Dr Bogie’s current research includes both clinical and basic science studies. She has presented at numerous professional meetings and published more than 10 research papers, including three chapters on the topic of pressure ulcer care. Dr Bogie currently holds an appointment as a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Orthopaedics at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. She is also a Senior Research Scientist at the Louis Stokes Cleveland Dept of Veterans Affairs Medical Center (LSCDVAMC). She is co-chair of the Skin Care Research Committee of the Spinal Injuries Unit at LSCDVAMC and the chair of the Functional Electrical Stimulation Center Seminar Program. In these capacities she works with multidisciplinary teams including biomedical engineers, electrical engineers, clinicians, biologists and statisticians to investigate novel therapeutic methods.

Michael L. Boninger, MD

Dr. Boninger is Professor and Vice Chair for Research in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh. He is also the Associate Dean for Medical Student Research in the School of Medicine. Dr. Boninger is the director of the University of Pittsburgh Model Center on Spinal Cord Injury (UPMC-SCI), funded by the National Institute for Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and works as a physician researcher for the Department of Veterans Affairs, is the Medical Director of the Human Engineering Research Laboratories. Dr. Boninger received a mechanical engineering degree and Doctorate of Medicine from Ohio State University. His work focuses on all aspects of assistive technology; he specifically focuses on upper extremity pain in individuals who rely on manual wheelchairs for mobility and assistive technology service delivery. Dr. Boninger has over 100 peer-reviewed journal publications and numerous book chapters and extended abstracts in these research areas. Dr. Boninger was honored in 2002 with the Pittsburgh Business Times Health Care Heroes Award for “Innovation and Research”. In 2003 he was elected to the College of Fellows in the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), and was selected Outstanding Faculty by the University of Pittsburgh. He has lectured internationally on biomechanics of repetitive strain injury, assistive technology, and wheelchair propulsion. Dr. Boninger also holds three U.S. patents.

Gilbert Brenes, MD

Dr. Brenes’ interests are spinal cord injury, spinal cord diseases including multiple sclerosis, guillian barre syndrome, transverse myelitis, post polio syndrome. He is the director of Outpatient Spinal Cord Medicine Services and Clinical Trials, Assistant Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He is active at UPMC Institute for Rehabilitation and Research at South Side Hospital. Dr. Brenes attended the University of Chile for Kinesiology and obtained his medical degree from the University of Costa Rica. He completed his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at St. Francis General Hospital. He is board certified in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation with subspecialty certification in Spinal Cord Injury Medicine with recertification in 2006. He has participated in multiple research projects, lectures and publications since 1975. He continues to be actively involved in clinical studies and research to advance the treatment of spinal cord injuries. He has organized long-term outpatient follow-up care clinics, which include urological evaluations, skin and wound care, spasticity management and assistive technology. Dr. Brenes has been an active supporter for the community involvement of physically challenged individuals. He is a board member of the HOPE Network, a non-profit organization that promotes community integration of individuals through leisure programs. He has been award the John F. Smerback Jr., Service Award by the Keystone Paralyzed Veteran’s of America in 2000, Excellence in Teaching Award for the PMR residents in 1998.

Jennifer Collinger, BSE

Jennifer is a Research Bioengineer in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh. She expects to graduate in April 2009 with her PhD in Bioengineering. Ms. Collinger’s previous research has focused on the development of quantitative ultrasound to understand the development of repetitive strain injuries resulting from manual wheelchair propulsion. While at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories, Ms. Collinger also conducted research related to the biomechanics of wheelchair propulsion.

Greg Constantine, PhD

Dr. Constantine joined his parents in the United States in 1972. He received a Master’s Degree in Statistics and a PhD in Mathematics and Statistics from the University of Illinois at Chicago under the guidance of S. Hedayat and Noboru Ito. Greg joined the faculty of Indiana University in Bloomington in 1979 as Assistant Professor. In 1985 he visited the University of Wisconsin for one year, subsequently joining the Department of Mathematics at the University of Pittsburgh as Associate Professor. His first book, “Combinatorial and statistical design” appeared with Wiley publishers in 1987. In 1990 and 1991 Greg was the recipient of a Fulbright award in Mathematics. Currently Greg Constantine is a Professor of Mathematics and a Professor of Statistics at the University of Pittsburgh. The research Dr. Constantine carries out falls into two broad categories: Discrete Mathematics and Algebra on one hand, and Statistical and Mathematical modeling on the other. Focusing on the latter, Greg is modeling balance impairment in subjects with Parkinson’s disease. This work is being carried out collaboratively with Robert Moore, Michael Zigmond, and Nicolaas Bohnen from the department of Neurology at UPMC and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Dr. Constantine has been involved significantly for the past five years in modeling the immune system under shock states with Yoram Vodovotz and Gilles Clermont of the Departments of Surgery and Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Inflammation and Regenerative Modeling. Greg’s primary contribution to these projects consists of discrete mathematical and statistical modeling, including algorithm and software development.

Dan Ding, PhD

Dr. Ding received her Ph.D. degree in mechanical and automation engineering from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2001. She had her postdoctoral training in rehabilitation engineering at the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology (RST) at the University of Pittsburgh from 2002 to 2004. She is currently an assistant professor at the Department of RST at the University of Pittsburgh, and a research scientist at Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL), a joint effort between the Dept. of RST, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. Her research interests are in the areas of rehabilitation engineering, specifically on advanced mobility devices, and monitoring and modeling of user behaviors and usage of assistive devices as related to injury, risk, and community participation. Dr. Ding was the recipient of the NIDRR (National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research) Switzer Fellowship and the PVA (Paralyzed Veterans of America) Research Fellowship for her work on developing a remote wheelchair logging-analysis-safety system capable of recording wheelchair usage, analyzing contexts, and communicating with the host station upon emergency. Her current research is supported by the PVA Research Foundation on an upper-limb monitoring device for wheelchair propulsion and ADLs among individuals with SCI, and by the NIH on developing nonlinear models of athetoid movement to assist computer access for individuals with cerebral palsy. Dr. Ding advises both undergraduate and graduate students in the RST program and the School of Engineering at Pitt, and serves on graduate thesis/dissertation committees. She has (co)authored more than 40 peer-reviewed papers and served expert reviewers for federal grants, peer-reviewed journals and conferences in the field of rehabilitation engineering. Dr. Ding is a member of RESNA and IEEE.

Susan L. Garber, M.A., O.T.R.

Ms. Garber is a Professor, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Baylor College of Medicine. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in occupational therapy from Columbia University, New York, New York and a Master of Arts degree in occupational therapy education from Texas Woman’s University, Denton, Texas. She has been a clinical researcher for more than 31 years as principal investigator or co-investigator on 23 funded research projects, 5 funded training projects, 1 NIDRR-funded Clinical Program and 3 contracts. Her research has focused primarily on spinal cord injury and pressure ulcer prevention, treatment and education. She has authored or co-authored 30 papers, more than 18 abstracts, and 14 book chapters. She is a fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association and the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine. In 2006, she was inducted into the Academy of Research of the American Occupational Therapy Foundation. Ms. Garber was a member of two clinical practice guideline development panels (Pressure Ulcers in Adults: Prediction and Prevention and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers) under the auspices of the Agency of Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR-1990-1994), now known as the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and was the chairperson of the clinical practice guideline development panel for the prevention and treatment of pressure ulcers for persons with spinal cord injury under the auspices of the Consortium of Spinal Cord Medicine of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Ms. Garber’s recent research includes VA merit review projects “Clinical Evaluation of a Wheelchair Mounted Robotic Arm,” “Telerehabilitation for Veterans with a Lower-Limb Amputation or Ulcer (Phases 1 and 2),” “Assisted Movement Neuro-Rehabilitation: VA Multi-Site Clinical Trial,” 2002-2005, and on the multi-site project  “Preventing Pressure Ulcers in Veterans with Spinal Cord Injury” supported by the VA Health Services Research and Development Service. Ms. Garber’s other areas of research have included assistive technology and outcomes of spinal cord injury and stroke rehabilitation. Her other interests include wheelchair mobility, evaluation and utilization of assistive technology, technology transfer, robotics as therapy and assistance and patient and family education.

Annmarie Kelleher, MS, OTR/L, ATP

Ms. Kelleher received her BS and MS degrees in Occupational Therapy from the University of Pittsburgh in June 2001 and August 2004, respectively. Mrs. Kelleher is currently working as the Lead Clinical Coordinator at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories and as a Wheelchair Seating Clinician at the UPMC Center for Assistive Technology. She is also a Clinical Instructor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science & Technology. Knowledgeable in the proper administration of clinical studies involving human subjects, she is experienced in coordinating complex research projects. She is responsible for assisting in the development of clinical protocols, monitoring and participating in study implementation, subject recruitment, and data management.

MaryBeth Kusturiss, RN, Med

Mrs. Kusturiss is on the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh and is the Regional Research Coordinator for the Study, “A Randomized Clinical Trial on Preventing Pressure Ulcers with Seat Cushions.” Mrs. Kusturiss has a Masters of Education in Counseling from West Chester University in Pennsylvania and a BS in nursing from the University of Pittsburgh. She is also a Registered Nurse. Mrs. Kusturiss’ other areas of research have included the studies, “Trajectory of Function in Heart Transplant Eligible Patients.” and “Etiology of Anencephaly and Spina Bifida Cystica: Inborn Errors of Folate Metabolism, where she was coordinator of the project.

Qi Mi

Mr. Mi was born in China, and came to United States in 2002. He carried out his undergraduate training in Mathematics at Nanjing University, which is among top 5 universities in China, and is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Applied Mathematics with Dr. Beatrice Riviere and Dr. David Swigon at the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, PA. He is expected to graduate in August 2007 and will have a position as an Assistant Professor in the School of Health and Rehabilitation at the University of Pittsburgh after his graduation. In his graduate research, he is actively involved in several projects related to the wound healing using Agent-based Modeling and Partial Differential Equations Modeling. He has developed an Agent-based Model with Dr. Yoram Vodovotz (Director, Center for Inflammation and Regenerative Modeling) to simulate diabetic foot ulcer wound healing. His work on this has led to a patent in relation to the Silico Strategies for Diabetic Foot Ulcer Therapy. He also collaborated with Nicole Y.K. Li and Dr. Katherine A. Verdolini (Department of Communication Science and Disorders) to develop an Agent-based model for acute phonotrauma. In his thesis study, he derived two Partial Differential Equation models with Dr. Beatrice Riviere, Dr. David Swigon (Department of Mathematics) and Dr. David Hackam (Children Hospital, Pittsburgh) for the cell migration in Necrotizing Enterocolitis. Most recently, he is helping Dr. Melanie Scott (Department of Surgery) to develop a mathematical model for NK\ NKT cell interactions in inflammation. Also he is working with Dr. Bambi Brewer (School of Health and Rehabilitation) to use Agent-based Modeling in order to simulate inflammation in wound healing following sciatic nerve injury.

Ashli M. Molinero, D.Sc.

Dr Molinero is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Molinero earned her D.Sc. degree in information systems and communications from Robert Morris University in 2004 and her M.Ed. degree in instructional design and technology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2001. Her experience includes over 10 years in web development and accessibility for people with disabilities. As an educator, she has taught advanced information systems analysis and design and e-business strategies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Department of Computer and Information Systems at Robert Morris University and the School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University. Dr. Molinero has co-authored multiple papers and presented at international conferences on the subject of web accessibility for people with disabilities. She has also co-authored on applications of radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies. New to the RERC in 2007, she supports the knowledge translation activities.

Michelle Oyster, MS

Michelle is a bioengineer at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories. She is responsible for assisting with the design and development of research activities carried out in the biomechanics laboratory at HERL. She also acts as a direct liaison between the University of Pittsburgh and VA IRB offices on issues related to human subject testing conducted in the biomechanics lab. Michelle graduated with from the University of Rochester with a BS in biomedical engineering with a concentration in mechanical engineering in 2003. She received her MS degree in Rehabilitation Science and Technology with a concentration in seating and mobility from the University of Pittsburgh in 2005. While completing her graduate studies, Michelle worked as a research associate at HERL. During this time, she worked on quantifying the activity levels of wheelchair users through the use of a custom designed data logging device.

Erik Porach, BSME

Mr. Porach is a staff Researcher in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Science. He received his BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Grove City College in 1994 and had worked for over 9 years in the manufacturing industry specializing in computer aided machining prior to coming to the University of Pittsburgh. Mr. Porach is currently supporting the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on TeleRehabilitation, the RERC on Spinal Cord Injury and the RERC on Wheelchair Transportation Safety as well as several individual grants within the department.

Dr. Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD

Dr. Sowa is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Co-Director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic Research. She completed her Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, where she was named the William Randolph Hearst Resident, identified as the resident most likely to make a national impact in the field of PM&R. She was also selected as a recipient of a NIH K12 Rehabilitation Medicine Scientist Training Program Award, which she has used to further her training in translational research. Using her background with a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Dr. Sowa currently performs molecular laboratory based, translational, and clinical research in the area of motion based therapies, and has presented her award winning work at national and international meetings. In addition, she is a board certified physiatrist, and active member of the Association of Academic Physiatrists and the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She currently spends approximately 25% of her time treating patients in both the outpatient and inpatient setting. Her experience in these areas makes her uniquely qualified to lead the clinical core for the proposed RERC and coordinate the integration of the laboratory and clinical potions of the proposed projects.

Yoram Vodovotz, PhD.

Dr. Vodovotz was born in Israel, and came to United States in 1976. He carried out his undergraduate training in Biochemistry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Ph.D. in Immunology with Dr. Carl Nathan at Cornell University Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences in New York City. He carried out two postdoctoral fellowships at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD (with Drs. Michael Sporn and James B. Mitchell, respectively), in which he developed his graduate research into the molecular regulation of inducible nitric oxide production in settings as diverse as sepsis, cancer, radiobiology, transplantation, and neurodegenerative diseases, using the tools of cell biology, molecular biology, and small animal models. He was subsequently the Director of Cellular and Molecular Research at the nonprofit Cardiovascular Research Institute (Washington Hospital Center, Washington, DC), where he focused on the role of nitric oxide in the emerging field of vascular brachytherapy under the direction of Dr. Ronald Waksman, using large animal models. He is currently Associate Professor of Surgery and Immunology at the University of Pittsburgh, where he is continuing his research interests on nitric oxide and inflammation in sepsis, hemorrhagic shock, transplantation, cancer, and vascular biology in collaboration with Dr. Timothy R. Billiar (Chairman, Department of Surgery). His work on nitric oxide has led to a patent in relation to kidney perfusion, and is also the genesis of a company Dr. Vodovotz has co-founded (Sentient Perfusion, Inc.).

Most recently, he has attempted to unify a large body of knowledge on acute inflammation in shock states, in order to help unravel the complexity of the process. To do so, he collaborated with Drs. Gilles Clermont and Carson Chow on a mathematical model of the acute inflammatory response to infection and trauma, using his expertise on cellular and animal models of inflammation. This work could impact the design of drugs and clinical trials in the setting of acute inflammation, and has led to the formation of the Center for Inflammation and Regenerative Modeling at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Dr. Vodovotz is the Director of this center. He is also a co-founder of Immunetrics, Inc., a company that is commercializing this mathematical modeling work.

Advisory Board

John C. Bollinger

Mr. Bollinger was the deputy executive director of the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) from 1992 to 2006. He was responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operations and oversight of PVA’s national programs. Prior to that, he was director of PVA’s national advocacy program responsible for all disability civil rights matters. From 1972 until 1987, Mr. Bollinger was employed by the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has served over 17 years on the boards of PVA’s Research and Education Foundations. He was commissioned in 1969 and served in the U.S. Navy.

Gene Crayton

Mr. Crayton was re-elected Senior Vice President of the Paralyzed Veterans of America at its 59th Annual Convention in Omaha, Nebraska on August 19, 2005. Previously, Mr. Crayton served two years as PVA national vice president, being first elected at the 54th Annual Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on August 5, 2000. Mr. Crayton was honorably discharged from the US Navy in 1970 after he was involved in an automobile accident. Mr. Crayton’s keen interest in making housing and transportation accessible for people with disabilities guided him to initiatives to advance those goals. As the chapter’s housing chairman, Mr. Crayton secured a sponsor for an accessible housing project, and in 1992, 40 accessible units in St. Louis, Missouri, opened as Gateway Accessible Housing I. Gateway II and III followed, offering 57 accessible units.

Alan Ludovici

Mr. Ludovici is currently the VP of Engineering for TiSport LLC. Mr. Ludovici joined TiSport in April, 1998 as its first employee after developing the business plan. He has been instrumental in developing all the current TiSport products. He has been in the wheelchair industry for over 24 years. Mr. Ludovici holds degrees in Machine Processes and Machine Design. He has earned numerous certificates in seating and mobility, Computer Aided Design, and other computer related software. In the past, Mr. Ludovici has work for three major wheelchair manufacturers during which time he has developed over 25 production wheelchair designs and numerous accessories which have been put into production.

Michael McCue, PhD

Dr. McCue is Associate Professor and Vice-Chair of the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh and is Director of the Rehabilitation Counseling Program. Dr. McCue has undertaken extensive research and demonstration activities in assessment and rehabilitation of individuals with disabilities. He is Co-Director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Rehabilitation Engineering Center on Telerehabilitation (NIDRR). He is also Project Director of the Cognitive Skills Enhancement Program and Learning Technology Program projects funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Hiram G. Andrews Rehabilitation Center. He has directed over 20 national research, demonstration and training programs in rehabilitation assessment and intervention and has published over 40 articles, chapters and abstracts related to rehabilitation of cognitive disability. He is an RSA Institute on Rehabilitation Issues (IRI) scholar (2002-2003), a Fellow of the National Academy of Neuropsychology and Past President of the Pennsylvania Rehabilitation Association.

Donald A. Rullman

Mr. Rullman was appointed by Secretary of Labor & Industry Stephen M. Schmerin as Director of the Hiram G. Andrews Center (HGAC) in June 2004.

As Director, Rullman provides leadership and oversight of the comprehensive vocational rehabilitation programs at HGAC, the Commonwealth’s State Operated Comprehensive Rehabilitation Center.  The Center provides evaluation, counseling, education, allied health and specialized vocational rehabilitation services to Pennsylvanians with disabilities that are seeking employment. Opening in 1959, the Center receives referrals from the entire state of Pennsylvania through the Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), and provides employment and independent living related services to an average daily population of approximately 400 persons.

Over the past 33 years, Rullman has served on numerous advisory boards and commissions involving rehabilitative issues addressing education, independent living and therapeutic recreational opportunities for persons with disabilities.

Prior to his appointment, Rullman served as the HGAC Deputy Director and Director of Finance with the LECS Comptroller’s Office, Pa. Office of the Budget.  Rullman received his bachelor’s degree in Economics/Accounting from the University of Pittsburgh.

Bonita Sawatzky, PhD

Dr. Sawatzky is an associate professor in the Department of Orthopedics at the University of British Columbia. After completing her PhD in 1998 in scoliosis research, she has shifted her focus to studying the physiological and biomechanical effects of wheelchair set up on wheelchair propulsion in both adults and children in hopes of improving function and decreasing long-term overuse injuries, and reducing pain as a result of wheeled mobility. Her research encompasses biomechanical, medical, and psycho-social perspectives that relate to wheeled mobility in both children and adults. Dr. Sawatzky is one of the PIs of the new spinal cord research centre in Vancouver, ICORD (International Collaboration of Repair Discoveries) and co-leader of the Disability Health Research Network. She also is on the planning committee for the International Seating Symposium held in Vancouver every two years.

Support Staff

Deborah Keelan

Ms. Keelan is the administrator for the RERC on Spinal Cord Injury. She is knowledgeable on both the University and NIDRR requirements for the administration of RERC Projects. She provides support related to financial and contractual matters. Debby has a B.S. in Business from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She previously worked in management with General Electric. You can reach Debby at (412) 624-6214 or by email at: dkeelan@pitt.edu.

Cheryl Rohall

Ms. Rohall is the administrative assistant for the RERC on Spinal Cord Injury, RERC on Telerehabilitation, RERC on Wheelchair Transportation Safety and the Continuing Education Program. She will provide general clerical support. She possesses over 20 years of administrative experience in areas of accounting/bookkeeping, administration of policies and procedures and computer system operations. You can reach Cheryl at (412) 624-6256 or by email at: crohall@pitt.edu.

Joseph Ruffing

Mr. Ruffing is a Communications Specialist for the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology. His responsibilities include creating, managing and updating the department's web sites and web server. His responsibilities also include designing and producing a variety of internal and external promotional pieces for the department. In addition to his web site and graphic design responsibilities he also provides computer support for the Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology staff. Mr. Ruffing has an Associate Degree in Specialized Technology, Majoring in Visual Communication from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He has1600 hours of specialized training related to graphic design and web based computer applications, and 24 years professional experience in the field of graphic design, communications and related technologies.

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This work is funded by the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR),
Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Spinal Cord Injury, Grant #H133E070024
The ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and not necessarily reflective of the NIDRR.

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Last Updated: 04.20.2012 | 13:40

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