A group of researchers at the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology in the University of Pittsburgh. Our team represents a comprehensive range of training and expertise to address the breadth of SMART. The group consists of rehabilitation engineers specialized in wheelchair biomechanics, wheelchair/components design and commercialization, wearable sensors, and participatory action design, clinicians specialized in wheeled mobility and seating, mHealth specialist, knowledge translation specialist, web accessibility specialists, instructional design/technology specialist, and graphics/web designer. These summaries illustrate that our team has the appropriate training and experience in the disciplines required to conduct the activities of the proposed project.



Dan Ding, PhD

Dr. Ding is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology (RST) at the University of Pittsburgh, and a Research Scientist at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories (HERL) at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System. She has extensive experience in developing sensor-driven health applications for wheelchair users. She is also a Thrust Leader of the Home and Community Health and Wellness (HCHW) Testbed in the National Science Foundation’s Quality of Life Technology Engineering Research Center (a joint effort between Pitt and Carnegie Mellon), which focuses on creating and evaluating home and community-based solutions for assessing and informing health and functional status of people with disability and older adults.



Rory Cooper, PhD
Dr. Cooper is the FISA & PVA Chair and distinguished professor in RST, and professor in the Departments of Bioengineering, and Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation at Pitt. Dr. Cooper is director and VA Senior Research Career Scientist of the Center for Wheelchairs and Associated Rehabilitation Engineering, a VA Rehabilitation Research and Development Center of Excellence. Dr. Cooper is an expert in participatory action design and has extensive experience in wheelchair/components design and commercialization.

Alicia Koontz, PhD
Dr. Koontz Dr. Koontz is a VA Research Biomedical Engineer and Associate Professor in RST at Pitt. Her work on wheelchair propulsion and transfer activity has led to a greater understanding of the mechanical loading on the upper extremity and the complex interactions between environmental factors, wheelchair related factors, subject characteristics, and upper limb overuse-related injuries.


Research and Development Team

Theresa Crytzer, DPT, ATP
Dr. Crytzer is an Assistant Professor in RST and a physical therapist at the University of Pittsburgh Center for Assistive Technology (UPMC CAT) where she evaluates individuals of all ages for wheelchairs and other assistive technology. She serves as a member of the Housing and Program Committees of the Spina Bifida Association of Western Pennsylvania (SBAWP). As a member of the program committee, she collaborated with community-based instructors to develop and carry out an adaptive yoga, aerobics, and karate programs for clients at SBAWP.

Bambang Parmanto, PhD
Dr. Parmanto is a Professor of Health Information Management and Biomedical Informatics at Pitt. He has extensive experience in developing mobile and internet-based technologies for heath interventions. He is an information technology consultant for the development of eM-CTR (electronic management of bench-tobedside clinical translational research) as part of the NIH-funded Clinical Translational Science Award (CTSA) at Pitt.

Mark Schmeler, PhD, OTR/L
Dr. Schmeler is an Assistant Professor, Graduate Faculty, and Director of the Continuing Education Program in RST at Pitt. He is the course director for the International Seating Symposium and directs several other continuing education venues including web-based post-professional education and training. He has 23 years of clinical practice experience and continues to practice as an Occupational Therapist and Assistive Technology Professional in the Center for Assistive Technology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center which he helped establish and directed until 2005.

Ashli Molinero, PhD
Dr. Molinero is an Assistant Professor in RST at Pitt. She has over 15 years in web development and web accessibility for people with disabilities. Through various projects funded by the Paralyzed Veterans of America Education Foundation, The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, and the Veterans Administration, she has developed expertise on online education design, development, and implementation.

Jon Pearlman, PhD
Dr. Pearlman is an Assistant Professor in RST at Pitt. His research interests center on Assistive Technology Product development and quality control. Dr. Pearlman is a member of a committee that is developing wheelchair testing standards for inclusion into the World Health Organization’s Guidelines for the Provision of Wheelchairs in Less-Resourced Regions.

Annmarie Kelleher, MS, OTR/L
Ms Kelleher is Instructor in RST and a practicing clinician specialized in wheeled mobility and seating at the Center for Assistive Technology at Pitt. She is also the lead clinical coordinator at HERL. She has extensive experience coordinating human subject studies on evaluating different types of assistive technologies.

Joseph Ruffing
Mr. Ruffing is a Communications Specialist for RST at Pitt. 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 Science and Technology staff.

Hsin-yi Tanya iu, PhD, PT
Dr. Liu is a postdoctoral researcher in RST at Pitt, from which she also received her MS and PhD degree. Her dissertation was to develop and evaluate an electronic reminder to facilitate effective and safe use of powered seating functions for powered wheelchair users. She worked as a pediatric physical therapist for 5 years in Taiwan before she came to US for advanced degrees


Page Updates: 04.24.2014


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