The Society for Neuroscience (SFN) annual meeting recently concluded its gigantic week-long data drop. This meeting is something to behold; Washington D.C., overrun with neurogeeks, hosted the world’s largest gathering of scientists who work on brain and spinal cord research, 30,000 strong from more than 80 countries. They gather to share new, often unpublished data, and to keep up what everybody else is working on in dozens of brain research and disease subcategories.
The Spinal Cord Injury Research Initiative (SCIRI) Group
SCITCS has partnered with three students, who are registered with the Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) University of Alberta. Purpose to research areas of benefit to people with SCI and other conditions. We are privileged to introduce Kale, Karl and Sirisha,
Kayle Simpson Karl Narvacan Sirisha Valupadas
Kayle Simpson is a 3rd year undergraduate student in the Mechanical Biomedical Engineering Co-operative program at the University of Alberta. She is particularly interested in the role that Biomedical Engineering plays in assisting individuals with spinal cord injuries.
Kayle is a passionate member and leader of an International Women’s Fraternity on campus, Delta Gamma. Their purpose is to promote community involvement, social responsibility and academic excellence. The organization hosts several large fundraising events each year to raise money and awareness for visual impairment. In addition to this, Kayle is trained as a sighted guide for the visually impaired, and volunteers her time on a weekly basis through the Canadian National Institute for the Blind. She also enjoys spending time with residents at the local Strathcona Senior Centre, where she volunteers frequently. Kayle is also a member of the Golden Key International Honors Society.Kayle enjoys music and being physically active. She is a former member of an internationally competitive choir and many competitive sports teams. She now enjoys playing the piano and singing in her spare time, and she is currently training for her first fitness competition.
SCIRI is Kayle’s first experience in undergraduate research. She is eager to dive into such an incredible learning opportunity and to contribute to the advancement of spinal cord injury treatment. She is also excited to pursue similar research initiatives full-time in her future co-operative work terms
Karl Narvacan is a 4th year BSc Honors Neuroscience student in the University of Alberta with deep interest in health care research. He has been working as a summer research student in the last two years with the Alberta Ocular Gene Therapy Team, an interdisciplinary collaboration of researchers within the university. His work focuses on choroideremia, a degenerative retinal disorder causing progressive blindness in men across the world, and how their underlying cardiovascular diseases may adversely affect the efficacy of its potential gene therapy.
He has presented his work in various undergraduate research conferences in the university. In this coming academic year, he is slated to complete his Honors Thesis in the Peter Allen MR Research Centre, where he will perform research with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and its use in various neurological disorders. During his spare time, Karl realizes his special passion for lifelong education and learning as a volunteer teacher with Project Adult Learning Society, a non-profit organization that offers free literacy, English and mathematics tutoring sessions to low-literacy adults in Edmonton. He has held several jobs in the oil and environmental testing industry and creative/academic writing part-time while going to university. Alongside university and work, he has also been a longtime volunteer with the University of Alberta Students’ Union Tutors, The Good Samaritan Society Care Center, Canadian Blood Services and St. John Ambulance. He is also a member of Mensa Canada.
He is very excited to be part of SCI Research Initiative (SCIRI) this year and hopes to use his experiences in pursuing the advancement of spinal cord injury research in Alberta!
Sirisha Valupadas is a 3rd year undergraduate student at the University of Alberta. Her major is in the Biological Sciences, with a minor in Political Science. She has pursued research opportunities in a number of different fields including the environment, healthcare and public health; examples of topics include anaerobic digestion, mercury levels in Alberta fish, as well as cardiology and renal function.
In addition to a variety of research interests, Sirisha is a public speech enthusiast. She is currently the Northern Alumni Representative for the Alberta Speech and Debate Association as well as the Director General for the 2015 High School Model United Nations at the University of Alberta, coaching and mentoring after many years of competing herself. She is a Team Leader in Business Development for AIESEC Edmonton, AIESEC being the largest student run international organization, whose job is to facilitate international internship and community development opportunities for students around the world. She is also a National Young Leader with the National Student Network. With a keen interest in internationalism, Sirisha would eventually like to be involved in the sphere of international development and global healthcare. She has also spent 7 years volunteering and working at the University of Alberta Hospital and Stollery Childrens Hospital. Sirisha enjoys music, having been trained in singing, dancing, and classical violin.
She is very excited to be apart of the SCRI, and looks forward to learning and contributing to advancement in spinal cord injury treatment
SCITCS Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) Research Laboratory
Vivian K. Mushahwar, PhD Principal Investigator in Spinal Cord Injury and Rehabilitation Engineering
- B.Sc. Electrical and Computer Engineering, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA (1986 -1991)
- PhD Bioengineering, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA (1992-1996)
- Post-doctoral Fellow in Rehabilitation Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA (1996 – 1998)
- Post-doctoral Fellow in Physiology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (1998 – 2001)
- Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry (2001 – present)
- AHFMR Scholar (2002 – present)
- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering, University of Utah (2001 – present)
- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Center for Neuroscience, University of Alberta (2002 – present)
- Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, University of Alberta (2005 – present)