There are students who are passionate about their studies.
And then there is Anahid Ebrahimi.
The University of Delaware grad student exudes an enthusiasm for her research that’s hard to miss, much like her ever-present smile. From her work in the BADER Lab at the University of Delaware’s Health Sciences Complex to the time she spends with her UD faculty advisors, Ebrahimi is focused on applying what’s she learned in the classroom to improve the lives of others.
It’s no wonder why Ebrahimi was recently selected as the recipient of the Graduate Student Achievement Award by UD’s Mechanical Engineering Department faculty. She also was chosen for the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program, a recognition awarded to only 2,000 students from among more than 16,000 applicants.
“Ana clearly illustrates what is possible as a graduate researcher,” said Dr. Steven J. Stanhope, director of the BADER Consortium and one of Ebrahimi’s co-advisors. “She not only raises the bar, but inspires others.”
In her research, Ebrahimi analyzes the mechanics of unimpaired individuals, as well as those with lower-limb amputations, walking under varying gait intensities. She is co-advised by Stanhope and Jill Higginson, associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering.
She’s been interested in body mechanics from an early age.
“Growing up as a competitive gymnast, I was captivated by the small movement adaptations that could drastically improve human performance,” she said. “During my undergraduate education, I recognized the gap in our understanding of the mechanisms of musculoskeletal adaptations. Through my graduate research, I seek to expand our scientific understanding of locomotion biomechanics and disseminate this new knowledge to help all individuals reach their highest levels of function.”
Ebrahimi was among the group of students recently recognized at the recent Department of Mechanical Engineering Career Celebration and Senior Appreciation Day. She received the department’s graduate achievement award in recognition of her scholarship and creativity in engineering.
Her NSF Graduate Research Fellowship award recognizes her as an outstanding student pursuing a research-based master’s degree. But the awards merely reflect the kind of person Ebrahimi is – focused, driven and eager to learn.
“Ana has remarkable capacity to apply engineering principles to better understand the human experience,” Stanhope said. “Her contributions have been critical as we created a customized body weight support system and began testing patients.”
Despite her busy schedule, Ebrahimi finds the time to volunteer with the non-profit Perry Initiative, which encourages female leaders in orthopaedic surgery and engineering. She also assists with the UD Amputee Clinic and has mentored two female undergraduate students.
She credits the community she’s found at UD with helping to propel her forward.
“I applied to the University of Delaware because I felt a great sense of support from the UD community, and I knew I could do my best work in such an environment. I am sincerely grateful for these awards and the support of not only my advisors and lab, but also my Department and now the National Science Foundation,” she said.