Four Bioengineering PhD Students Named F30 & F31 Fellows
Anna Bailes, Michelle Riffitts, Ande Marini, and Shane McKeon, graduate students in the University of Pittsburgh Department of Bioengineering, have received F30 and F31 Predoctoral Fellowships from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) this past summer. These competitive fellowships allow graduate students in the health sciences to develop their research.
Bailes is a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)/ PhD program in the Bioengineering department. She studies the ways in which pain-related psychological factors impact movement in people with chronic low back pain, and long-term is interested in developing novel movement therapy interventions for individuals with chronic pain conditions. According to Bailes, the fellowship will provide financial support to help her achieve her research and career goals. In addition, writing the grant helped her to hone her research interests, focus on her goals, and work with her advisors Gwendolyn Sowa and Rakié Cham.
Riffitts is also a F30 fellow and a student in the Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)/ PhD program. She works under Kevin Bell in the Human Movement and Balance Laboratory (HMBL). Riffitts’ research interests include telehealth in physical therapy and medical device design and usability.
Marini is a PhD student working in the Vascular Bioengineering Lab under PI Justin Weinbaum. Marini received a F31 fellowship from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for her project “Extracellular Vesicle Delivery System for Treatment of Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm.” Marini, who is also an AHA fellow, offered some advice for other students who may be interested in applying.
“Even if you don’t feel like you’re completely ready to apply for a fellowship, you always receive helpful feedback about how to improve it for the next time,” Marini said. “If you don't get it the first time or even the second, that's fine- just make use of the reviewer comments.”
McKeon is a 5th year PhD student in the Bioengineering Signals and Imaging track. Her F31 fellowship was activated this spring for her project “Brain Mechanisms Underlying Changes in Neural Oscillations through Adolescent Cognitive Maturation” with PI Beatriz Luna in the Laboratory of Neurocognitive Development. Her work aims to integrate multimodal neuroimaging and neural recording data to assess neural function to characterize neurocognitive development through adolescence.
After her PhD, she would like to focus on clinical realms of research, including using neuroimaging for mental health diagnosis and/or using AI in combination with neuroimaging to match patients with the appropriate medication.