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Prior to enrolling in SHRS, Maria was a research fellow/assistant at a military research institution. She wanted to take the next step by pursuing a doctoral degree to become an independent scientist because of her passion for research. She also wanted to continue contributing towards the enormous and diverse field of health and exercise science by formulating her own hypotheses to test while improving her knowledge. She considers herself extremely fortunate to have been given the opportunity to work in the University of Pittsburgh’s Neuromuscular Research Laboratory, which provides a unique experience due to the collaborative efforts of profound scientists from multiple fields.  


Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition


Doctor of Philosophy in Rehabilitation Science


  • 2017, 2018- USARIEM: ORISE Recognition Award
  • 2017- U.S. Army, Department of Defense: Army Medicine Wolf Pack Award for the 2QFY1
  • 2017- U.S. Army, Department of Defense: Two-Star Note of Appreciation from Major General of Center for Initial Military Training
  • 2015- Illinois State University: Robert D. Liverman Graduate Student Research Award
  • 2015- Illinois State University: Illinois State University Symposium Presentation Assistance Grant
  • 2013- Illinois State University: Exercise Science Distinguished Senior Award

Representative Publications

Research Interests

  • Neurological factors that my influence physical performance optimization and injury 

  • Non-invasive brain stimulation to improve corticomotor function following traumatic musculoskeletal injuries 

  • Neuromuscular adaptations in excitability and motor unit behavior