Doctoral student Bandres wins American Society of Neurorehabilitation Diversity Fellowship

Bandres studies spinal physiology and neurorehabilitation after spinal cord injury

Beth Miller 

Maria F. Bandres, a doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has received the 2021 American Society of Neurorehabilitation (ASNR) Diversity Fellowship.

The fellowship, awarded annually to up to three individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical, clinical, behavioral and social sciences, provides travel funds and registration expenses for conferences for the three years. In addition, in her third year of the fellowship, Bandres will mentor a first-year fellow. The program, designed to allow fellows to become more fully immersed in the society, also facilitates her taking on future leadership positions in the society.

“I feel happy, honored and very excited for the opportunities this fellowship entails,” Bandres said. “I’ll be attending the ASNR annual meeting this year and in the years to come. Additionally, I would like to attend the Society for Neuroscience conference and the Biomedical Engineering Society conference next year.”

Bandres conducts research in the Plasticity, Monoamines, and Recovery of Function Laboratory directed by Jacob McPherson in the Program in Physical Therapy at the School of Medicine. She first joined McPherson’s lab in 2018 at Florida International University and stayed in the lab when McPherson moved to Washington University in 2019.

“My favorite things about St. Louis are how friendly people are and how moving here gave me a better understanding of American culture,” said Bandres, a native of Venezuela. “My favorite aspects about WashU are how people here are really rooting for your growth and success as a scientist and how humble and approachable professors are. You could be casually talking to a professor in an informal event about anything. Then, you later find out they may be one of the biggest or more promising names in their field. Furthermore, every time you run into each other, they’ll remember your name and who you are.”

Her research areas are spinal physiology and neurorehabilitation after spinal cord injury. She seeks to better understand neural activity in the spinal cord to enhance current therapies for rehabilitation after spinal cord injury in the context of motor impairments and/or chronic pain.

Bandres earned a bachelor’s degree in materials engineering from Simon Bolivar University in Caracas, Venezuela, in 2015. After earning a doctorate, she plans to complete a postdoctoral fellowship then continue research as a principal investigator.

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