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Human Movement Science Curriculum (HMSC) PhD students Chelsea “CJ” Duppen, David Rowland and Chris Lane were awarded Promotion of Doctoral Studies (PODS) Scholarships.

The scholarships are funded by The Foundation for Physical Therapy Research (FPTR). They are given to provide a kickstart of careers for new investigators and the support to complete a doctoral degree. Applicants are evaluated by a peer-review process and the most promising are given scholarships. These scholarships are worth $7,500 (PODS I) and $15,000 (PODS II) each.

Chelsea “CJ” Duppen: Parkinson’s Research

Duppen is a third-year PhD student in the HMSC program and a Graduate Research Assistant in the Recovery of Gait and Neurorehabilitation (ReGaiN) Lab. Duppen was a physical therapist for four years after graduating from UNC’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program in 2016. She treated people with a variety of neurological conditions and through her years of practice compiled a list of clinical questions that were not answered by research. Duppen decided to return to UNC to pursue her PhD in Human Movement Science to answer those questions and work to improve the quality of life for people with neurological diagnoses.

Her project, “Enhanced motor learning of gait behaviors in Parkinson Disease,” aims to test the feasibility of a gait training program intended to promote increased implicit (subconscious) motor learning during gait training to improve retention and reduce dual-task cost of walking in this population.

Her project was awarded PODS I, and as she continues her degree with the scholarship, Duppen aims to gain skills that will allow her to become a clinical researcher in physical therapy. “I hope to leave UNC with skills in biomechanical gait analysis and knowledge of neuroimaging techniques to use in my research moving forward,” she says.

David Rowland: Stroke Research

Rowland primarily works in stroke research within physical therapy. He is passionate about research and is eager to teach future clinicians in the field.

His project, “Ankle exoskeletons as daily assistive devices to augment gait post-stroke,” supports a study about determining the effectiveness of an ankle exoskeleton for walking recovery in people after a stroke. The device in use is an assistance device, not a rehabilitation device.

Rowland’s project was awarded the PODS I scholarship, and from that, he hopes to continue his education with an end goal of teaching within a PT program.

Chris Lane: PT Access and Delivery

Lane is a fourth-year HMSC student. His primary research focuses on physical therapy healthcare access and delivery outcomes, along with health disparities related to musculoskeletal conditions, such as knee injury. He was drawn to the area of research after learning of the deaths of Black individuals by police and disparities in Covid-related outcomes. As a result of those events, Lane reflected on his own identity as a biracial, Black and Asian, male who has overcome challenges in the academic and doctoral programs. Health equity and social epidemiology classes reaffirmed his interest in health services and disparities.

His project, “Preventing disability after anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury: examining opportunities in those at greatest risk,” examines racial, ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in treating individuals with ACL injury. He will look at the use of physical therapy services and ACL reconstruction and factors that influence the use of those treatments. Those with ACL injury are at high-risk of knee osteoarthritis, which is associated with pain and disability. Individuals from marginalized communities are at a greater risk for worse pain and disability. “The long-term goal of my project is to reduce long-term disability in individuals with ACL injury, particularly those from marginalized and underrepresented communities,” said Lane.

His project was awarded the PODS II scholarship, and he will continue his dissertation while also conducting research, writing transcripts and grants, mentoring students and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion in his profession. “After I graduate, I plan to pursue a postdoctoral fellowship that will prepare me to become a productive faculty member who will further contribute to and lead health services and disparity research.”