Building the path toward better healthcare
Bio-E graduate students receive ARCS scholarships to improve care, representation for under-represented patients
Two graduate students from the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering received scholarships from the Achievement Rewards for College Students Foundation, Inc. for their work to improve treatment for under-represented communities and patients with neurological disorders.
Emani Hunter and Camila Garcia joined the Swanson School’s Department of Bioengineering as PhD students in 2022 and received nominations to the ARCS Foundation, Inc. from the Swanson School based on their research endeavors.
The ARCS Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit that aids in advancement and technology for graduate and undergraduate students, selects scholars annually by qualifying departments of engineering, science and medical research within its 51 academic partners and universities.
Hunter, recipient of ARCS’ Crawford-Stockman Endowed Award, is focusing her research on machine learning approaches to bioimaging modalities from both human and animal MRIs to aid in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases.
“The big picture impact of these studies is ensuring that individuals who are diagnosed early can receive the treatment and support they need,” explained Hunter.
During her undergraduate career at Michigan State University, Hunter devoted her efforts to improve diversity in the STEM field and support the next generation of Black engineers.
Hunter is mentored by Bistra Iordanova, assistant professor of bioengineering at Pitt, and Howard Aizenstein, Charles F. Reynolds III and Ellen G. Detlefsen Endowed Chair in geriatric psychiatry and professor of bioengineering and at the Clinical and Translational Science at Pitt.
Garcia, recipient of ARCS’ Rivers-Zawadzki Endowed Award, is using her current research to understand how neurotransmitter flux plays a role in circadian rhythms which regulate homeostasis in the brain.
“I want this research to be used to develop treatments and improved brain recording and stimulation techniques,” said Garcia.
Garcia decided to pursue a PhD after learning new technologies would be needed to answer questions she came across during her undergraduate career. Born and raised in Cuba, Garcia recognized the need to bring innovation to minority communities, where advanced treatments for neurological disorders are still inaccessible or stigmatized.
Garcia is mentored by Takashi Kozai, associate professor of bioengineering at Pitt.