Hai-Jung Steffi Shih, PT, PhDPostdoctoral Research Fellow
Steffi Shih is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Neurorehabilitation Research Lab. Dr. Shih’s background is in physical therapy and biomechanics. Dr. Shih’s passion for dance and movement has led her to complete her bachelor’s degree program in Physical Therapy from the National Taiwan University in Taipei, Taiwan, where she graduated Summa Cum Laude. Dr. Shih pursued and earned her Ph.D. in Biokinesiology and Physical Therapy at the University of Southern California. She received numerous research grants and awards during her time as a doctoral student, including the Provost’s Fellowship and the Jacquelin Perry Scholarship. Dr. Shih has teaching experience in both in-person and online formats, and clinical experience as a physical therapist with various sports teams.
Dr. Shih’s research aims are to further understand musculoskeletal pain, movement disorders, and improve intervention strategies using a multidisciplinary approach. Her dissertation studies focused on trunk control and attentional prioritization during gait in individuals with recurrent low back pain. Her ongoing work in the NRL explores wearable sensor use and coaching strategies in physical activity interventions for persons with neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, Dr. Shih actively participates in health for dancers and dance for health research and has researched how dancer’s biomechanics change with skill level, lower extremity injury, and exertion. Dr. Shih’s work will provide insight into the training and re-training of movement in a broad spectrum of populations.
Outside of academia, Steffi is an avid traveler who has been to more than 35 countries. She loves to dance, enjoys playing music, and is aspiring to become an excellent dog owner one day.
Radhika is a current PhD student with a B.S. in Kinesiology. Her M.S. graduate work was in the area of cognitive motor interference patterns and lower extremity biomechanics in healthy older adults and individuals with stroke. She previously worked as a surgical neurophysiologist in Boston, where she obtained experience collecting and monitoring neurophysiological data in the form of EEG, EMG and evoked potentials from a variety of clinical populations. Outside of research, she spent significant time lecturing and teaching laboratory sections at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Her current research is in the area of motor planning and gait initiation in individuals with Huntington's and Parkinson's disease. Specifically, she uses force plate metrics, inertial sensors and EEG to identify biomechanical impairments and their respective neural correlates. In her spare time, she enjoys running, cooking, yoga, and traveling.
Chelsea E. Macpherson currently serves as the Lab Manager for the Neurorehabilitation lab, and she is in her second year of her PhD studies at Columbia University Teacher's College. Dr. Macpherson received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology, Exercise Science and Gerontology from Syracuse University, her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and she additionally completed a Neurological Physical Therapy Residency Program at Boston University. Dr. Macpherson is a licensed doctor of physical therapy, holding an ABPTS Neurological Clinical Specialist designation.
Most recently, Dr. Macpherson was working at Stanford University School of Medicine/Stanford Health Care where she was involved with Adult Neurorehabilitation practices to quite a range of neurological diagnoses, and she was heavily involved in research for Adults with Neuromuscular and Neurodegenerative diseases. Her current interests lie within the realm of exercise induced enhancements of known biomarkers of neuroplasticity/repair in those with neurodegenerative diseases.
In her spare time, Chelsea enjoys exercise, nature, traveling and photography. She practices meditation as well as yoga (to her best abilities) to better root herself in this wonderful world!
Jehan recently joined the Neurorehabilitation Research Lab as a Ph.D. student in the Kinesiology program at Columbia University Teacher's College. She received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and MS. in Rehabilitation (neuromuscular Concentration) from the University of Pittsburgh, PA, USA. Jehan previously worked as a laboratory assistant in the Department of Physical Therapy at the University of Pittsburgh and the Physical Therapy- Clinical and Translational Research Center (PT-CTRC). She also volunteered to assist in the center for Balance Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh medical center.
Jehan is interested in neurorehabilitation, technology (e.g. wearables, Telehealth and E-sport), and physical education. Currently, she is figuring out how to combine those interests to develop a specific plan for the Ph.D. at Columbia University.
In her spare time, Jehan enjoys exercise, traveling, reading, and watching multicultural/international films and animation. She also translates recent articles and knowledge about health, wellness, and physical therapy to Arabic and discusses them on Twitter (@alomarJehan) and Youtube.
Nia Irene Toomer-Mensah is an advocate for children with disabilities and has been working with the pediatric population for over twelve years. Her areas of interest include task specific training to improve brain function, neuroplasticity, utilizing outcome measures for the brain injured population and motor control acquisition as it effects physical activity, gait velocity and function. Dr. Mensah received her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Southern California and earned her Bachelor of Science degree at Vanderbilt University. She is recognized as a Board-Certified Specialist in Pediatrics by the American Board of Specialties in Physical Therapy and is a certified practitioner of Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) which promotes critical thinking and strategic recruitment of muscles to improve function through play for children with neurological deficits. Dr. Mensah’s most celebrated achievements include serving the global community via international medical outreach to underserved communities in Ghana, Dominican Republic, Trinidad, and South Africa.
Pediatric Physical Therapy, Certified Neuro-Developmental Treatment Specialist, Neuroscience, Motor Control and Learning, International Medical Outreach
Alissa Pacheco is a Licensed and Board Certified Occupational Therapist and holds a certification in the Yoga for the Special Child method. Alissa works with individuals across the life span and has worked in a variety of acute care, inpatient, and outpatient settings, including both Children’s Specialized Hospital and Atlantic Health System in New Jersey. She also enjoys teaching therapeutic yoga to children and adults of all abilities.
Alissa attended Quinnipiac University for her undergraduate bachelor’s degree in health science in 2009 and continued for her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2011. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral degree in Movement Science and Education, with a focus on Motor Learning & Control, at Teachers College, Columbia University. She hopes to pursue research and explore new intervention methods that will improve function and daily life skills for individuals with neurological and movement related impairments.
Haoyu Li is a first year Ed.M student majoring in Applied Physiology. He graduated with a B.S. in Psychology at Peking University, China. Hayou enjoys exploring the topics of movement science, neuroscience, rehabilitation, and has experience working with stroke patients in a physical therapy setting. He is an amateur bodybuilder, has won first place at the Fifteenth Bodybuilding Championship of Beijing, and has played the tuba in marching band and symphony orchestra for over ten years. His interests and experiences have brought him to the lab to further explore movement and rehabilitation sciences. His current research is about characterizing heart rate variability in people with Huntington's disease during exercise.
Miriam is a first year Master's student in the Motor Learning and Control program at Teachers College. She is thrilled to be joining the Neurorehabilitation Research Laboratory (NRL) as a Graduate Research Assistant, working to help facilitate logistics of the NRL, as well assist with data collection for some of the innovative research projects currently underway. Miriam is a dancer with a neuroscience background, and specialized in Dance for Parkinson's and Huntington's while completing her undergraduate studies at Hampshire College. Miriam is a research collaborator with the Mobility and Exercise in Neurological Disorders (MEND) Laboratory at the Ohio State University, and teaches with Dance for PD® in Brooklyn. Aside from her passion for movement interventions and research, Miriam is part of a Brazilian dance company, Silva Dance, and loves going to the beach and surfing!
Ashrita Satchidanand is a Master's student in the Motor Learning and Control program at Teachers College of Columbia University. She graduated in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. She aspires to be a physical therapist that specializes in treating neurological populations. In her spare time, she enjoys swimming, reading, and traveling.
Miguel Blacutt is an Ed.M student in Motor Learning & Control. He graduated from McGill University with a BSc. in Nutritional Biochemistry, where his studies focused on protein metabolism. After graduating from McGill, he assisted in R-01 funded research at the Yale School of Medicine, which aimed at developing a novel psychometric tool for understanding movement behavior.
At Teachers College, Columbia University, Miguel is a part of the Neurorehabiliation Research Lab, where he aims to understand neurological and movement related disorders. He’s specifically interested in Huntington’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. He also collaborates with the lab of Dr. Andy Gordon in basic sensorimotor control research. Miguel has been offered to conduct research at Oxford University to aid in the development of a novel class of small molecules that stimulate stem cell proliferation in situ. He is also working on research with CSU Fullerton, where he seeks to understand the effects of fasting on muscle physiology and anabolic signalling
Miguel is passionate about neuromuscular science, both in clinical and sport settings. He places a large emphasis on the importance of science communication, and has grown an audience of 23,000 followers on Instagram by illustrating scientific studies (@MBlacutt).
James Allen is a Master’s student in the Motor Learning and Control program at Teachers College, Columbia University. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Bioengineering from Syracuse University in 2019. While studying engineering at Syracuse, James along with his senior capstone design group took pride in successfully constructing a strengthening and correcting exoskeleton for a client, whom suffered from primary progressive Multiple Sclerosis. Through his capstone project and professional internships conducting biomechanical research of the knee and spine at the University of Delaware and Upstate Medical University Institute for Human Performance respectively, James has developed a strong overall interest in biomechanics.Given his bioengineering background in combination with his passion in human movement, Mr. Allen decided to pursue his master’s degree at Teachers College to generate a better understanding of biomechanics theoretically and how various diseases impacts human movement. James continued to actively develop his experience which resulted in an internship at the New York Sports Science Lab in Staten Island, where he learned how biomechanics can be employed for sports to improve athletic performance and to prevent injury.
Currently, James serves as the lab manager of the Biomechanics Research Lab at Teachers College and also runs the Neurorehabilitation Research Lab’s website. He is excited to join and work with some of the brightest minds in his field and can’t wait to learn from his peers. When James is not doing work, he enjoys spending time with family and friends and watching sports.
Abigail is a research assistant at the Neurorehabilitation Research Laboratory. She is a junior at Barnard College studying biology and dance. Outside of class, Abigail can be found performing with dance groups such as Orchesis, Columbia’s largest performing arts group, Barnard’s dance department and Movement Exchange. Additionally, she is the rehearsal director for the MaMa Project. Having previously worked in clinical settings, Abigail is excited to get to explore the research side of rehabilitation. She is helping with many projects but is particularly interested in the Merengue Dance for Stroke project. In the future, Abigail hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy and research.
Jamie is a senior at Barnard College studying Neuroscience & Behavior and Dance. She joined the Neurorehabilitation Lab as a research assistant in Fall of 2019 and is excited to work on projects that promote enjoyable and sustainable exercise habits in populations who would benefit most. Outside of class, she spends most of her time dancing and performing with the Barnard Dance Department and other dance groups on campus. She is passionate about making dance education accessible to a wider range of people and communities — she has volunteered at the Dance Project of Washington Heights and taught Dance for PD® classes for two summers in Syracuse, NY (after receiving training from the Dance for PD® organization). In the future, Jamie would like to find a career that combines her interests in dance and neuroscience.