Project Personnel

The essential asset of any successful enterprise is its people!The RERC staff possesses knowledge and expertise in wheelchair transportation safety and technology that is recognized worldwide. Similarly, those individuals who serve on the RERC's Advisory Board hold wheelchair transportation safety at the forefront of their interests. 

Key Investigators

Lawrence W. Schneider, PhD, RERC Director, holds BSE and MSE degrees in mechanical engineering and a Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Michigan.  Since completing his doctorate in 1973, he has been employed at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) where he is currently a Research Professor and Head of the Biosciences Division.  He also holds an appointment in the Bioengineering Department at the University of Michigan.  Over the past thirty-three years, Dr. Schneider has served as project director and principal investigator on more than one hundred research projects dealing with the biomechanics of injury and the biomechanics of occupant positioning and seating in the automotive environment.  For the past fifteen years, Dr. Schneider has directed UMTRI’s in-depth crash investigation program, which identifies the causes of injuries in different types of crashes and assesses the performance of the latest restraint and crashworthy technologies.  Dr. Schneider recently developed a new method for documenting injury causation scenarios that is being used by the Crash Injury Research Engineering Network (CIREN), a nation-wide trauma-based crash-investigation program sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the automotive industry.

Perhaps of greatest importance to the goals of the RERC WTS, Dr. Schneider has been involved for more than twenty-eight years in the application of basic principles of occupant protection and biomechanics to providing safer transportation for wheelchair-seated occupants. Since 1978, he has conducted over one thousand sled impact tests of wheelchairs, wheelchair tiedowns, and occupant restraints.  He was instrumental in the formation of the SAE Restraint Systems Task Force of the Adaptive Devices Subcommittee (ADSC) in the mid 1980s, and was the principal author of SAE J2249 Wheelchair Tiedowns and Occupant Restraint Systems for Use in Motor Vehicles and the comparable ISO standard 10542-1 and –2.  He was also the principal author of Section 19 ANSI/RESNA WC/Volume 1 Wheelchairs for Use as Seats in Motor Vehicles and is the current Chair of the RESNA Committee for Wheelchairs and Transportation (COWHAT).

Dr. Schneider's website: http://www.umtri.umich.edu/who-we-are/staff-directory?personID=6

Dr. Schneider's e-mail: lws@umich.edu

Gina E Bertocci, PhD, PE, RERC Associate Director, is at the University of Louisville where she is the Endowed Chair of Biomechanics and a tenured Associate Professor in the Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Bioengineering and Pediatrics.  Dr. Bertocci is also the Director of the Injury Risk Assessment and Prevention Laboratory, a multi-disciplinary laboratory conducting projects focused on injury risk assessment.  She graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with BS and MS degrees in Mechanical Engineering, and a PhD in Bioengineering.  Her research interests include wheelchair transportation safety, injury biomechanics and rehabilitation biomechanics.  Her work in the areas of wheelchair transportation safety, rehabilitation biomechanics and child abuse has been widely published in 40 manuscripts appearing in peer-reviewed journals and 80 conference proceedings. 

Dr. Bertocci’s research has been funded through the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Disability and Rehabilitation Research, the Center for Disease Control, the Paralyzed Veteran’s of America – Spinal Cord Research Foundation, and the Arthritis Foundation, totaling over $6 million in grant funding.  In her previous faculty position at the University of Pittsburgh - Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, Dr. Bertocci was awarded and directed the multidisciplinary NIDRR Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheelchair Transportation Safety with Drs. Schneider and Hobson.  Dr. Bertocci is a member of the ANSI/RESNA Wheelchair Transportation Standards Committee and has provided research support and leadership to this committee’s standard development efforts since 1997. 

Dr. Bertocci’s teaching responsibilities have included courses in wheelchair transportation safety, rehabilitation biomechanics, rehabilitation engineering design and injury biomechanics. Throughout her academic career, she has directly graduate students with backgrounds in bioengineering, mechanical engineering, physical therapy, occupational therapy, rehabilitation counseling and rehabilitation science. Her students have been productive as evidenced by their publishing in peer-reviewed journals, participation and recognition at national conferences, and receiving of scholarships and federal peer-reviewed funding.  Dr. Bertocci’s research efforts have brought together investigators with both technical and clinical backgrounds, providing a multidisciplinary research experience for undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students working under her direction.

Dr. Bertocci's website: http://louisville.edu/speed/research/centers-and-labs/irap

Dr. Bertocci's e-mail: g.bertocci@louisville.edu

Patricia Karg, MS, RERC Associate Director, received a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Lehigh University in 1990, and an M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Virginia in 1993.  Ms. Karg is currently a Assistant Professor for the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.  She performs research in the area of wheelchair technology including seating, mobility, and the motor-vehicle safety of individuals transported while seated in a wheelchair.  Ms. Karg served as Director for the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Wheelchair Transportation Safety from 2002-2005. Ms. Karg has also participated in research involving the development and application of instrumentation for the in vivo measurement and assessment of biomechanical properties of buttock soft tissue.  She performs clinical and laboratory evaluations of commercial and prototype wheelchair seat cushions for commercial sponsors and is currently involved in a randomized control trial for pressure-reducing cushions.  

 Ms. Karg is actively involved in the development of performance and safety standards for wheelchair and wheelchair seating technology. She serves as a member of the RESNA Technical Standards Board, Wheelchair Transportation Standards Committee and Wheelchair Seating Standards Committee. Her research provides support for the development of voluntary industry standards in these areas. Prior to joining the University of Pittsburgh faculty, Ms. Karg worked as a Project Engineer for ECRI, Plymouth Meeting, PA, performing comparative evaluations of medical technology, establishing safety and performance standards, and providing technical consultation to the healthcare community.

Ms. Karg's website: http://www.shrs.pitt.edu/rst

Ms Karg's e-mail: tkarg@pitt.edu

Mary Ellen Buning, PhD, OTR/L, ATP, is an occupational therapist who has practiced in the area of assistive technology since 1987. She earned a B.S. in Occupational Therapy from the University of Florida, an M.S. in Occupational Therapy from Colorado State University, and a Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Pittsburgh.  She is an active member of RESNA where she coordinates the professional specialty groups and is credentialed as an Assistive Technology Professional.  Dr. Buning is also the Chair of the COWHAT Breakout Group on Education and Training. Dr. Buning is active in the American Occupational Therapy Association and its Technology Special Interest Section. As part of her doctoral work she developed WheelchairNet, a virtual community on the topic of seating and wheeled mobility, and investigated the use of the World Wide Web as a decision-making support for persons who use wheelchairs.  She is an experienced educator and clinician/researcher with a strong interest in the use of the Internet and telecommunications to support data acquisition, improve practice, and disseminate research findings. She will serve as the PI of Project P5 in years 3 through 5 and the leader for GR2: Information Dissemination and Knowledge Translation. 

Dr. Buning moved to the University of Louisville and joined its Department of Neurological Surgery with the goal of developing a comprehensive assistive technology program at Frazier Rehab Institute. She practices as a wheelchair seating and mobility clinician to support to the Spinal Cord Medicine program and is collaborating in the development of a Certificate in Rehab Engineering and Assistive Technology in the U of L's Speed School of Engineering.

Dr. Buning's e-mail: maryellen.buning@louisville.edu

Douglas A. Hobson, PhD, is an Associate Professor Emeritus in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Hobson has over thirty years experience directing research, education, service delivery, and standards development activities in the field of assistive technology, and has many publications, book chapters and other forms of dissemination to his credit.  He began and directed the Rehabilitation Engineering Program at the University of Tennessee (UT), Memphis, TN from 1974 to 1990, which is now recognized worldwide for its contributions to the field of specialized seating and mobility.  From 1976-81, the UT program was awarded a NIHR REC grant for research and development of seating technology for children.  Four seating projects were developed during this project, some of which continue to be marketed by commercial suppliers today.  Many of the seating principles now being taught to clinicians and suppliers were developed and communicated by the UT staff.  The UT program originated the International Seating Symposium, the single largest annual event in the wheelchair-seating field, which is now co-hosted with the University of Pittsburgh.  From 1992-2001, he served as managing director of the RERC on Wheeled Mobility (RERCWM) at the University of Pittsburgh.

Until 2001, Dr. Hobson chaired the SAE and ISO Standards Committees related to Wheelchair securement, and the RESNA COWHAT (Committee on Wheelchairs and Transportation).  Both national (ANSI/RESNA and SAE) and international (ISO) industry standards for wheelchair securement and transport wheelchairs were completed during his tenure.  Dr. Hobson served as the President of RESNA during the period 1991-92 and was elected as a RESNA fellow in 1994.

Dr. Hobson's website: http://www.shrs.pitt.edu

Dr. Hobson's e-mail: dhobson@pitt.edu

Miriam A. Manary, MSE is a Senior Research Associate in UMTRI’s Biosciences Division.  She received her BSE in Biomedical Engineering from Tulane University and an MSE in Bioengineering from the University of Michigan.  At UMTRI, she has conducted biomechanics and human factors research for more than eighteen years, and has served as principal investigator on a number of research projects involving the collection and application of anthropometric and biomechanical data from volunteer subjects to determine the factors influencing occupant posture and position.  Ms. Manary is the leader of UMTRI’s Child Passenger Protection Research Program and is an instructor in NHTSA’s child passenger safety technician program.  Her expertise in this area covers both the engineering and human factors aspect of the design and use of effective child restraint systems. 

Ms. Manary has been involved in research and testing related to providing safer transportation of people in wheelchairs for over fifteen years and has served as the leader of the rear- and side-impact protection task in RERC WTS-1. She has also been an integral part of the development and improvement of the current voluntary standards for wheelchair transportation safety and participates in the related RESNA, SAE and ISO standards committees.  She has conducted and reported on over 1000 crash tests of wheelchairs and wheelchair tiedown systems and, in the process, works closely with manufacturers to help them understand, interpret, and comply with the standards.  She also works with clinicians who are seeking safer options for patient transportation, and was the key person behind the development of the Ridesafe brochure and website that provide clear guidance on how to more safely transport occupants seated in wheelchairs.

Ms. Manary's website: http://www.umtri.umich.edu/who-we-are/staff-directory

Ms. Manary's e-mail: mmanary@umich.edu

Linda van Roosmalen, PhD, received B.S. and M.S. degrees in Industrial Design Engineering from Delft University of Technology and completed a Ph. D. in Rehabilitation Science at the University of Pittsburgh with a concentration on wheelchair transportation safety and occupant restraint design for wheelchair-seated individuals.  As a visiting Assistant Professor at the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, she is actively involved in research, product development, and graduate-level teaching in transportation safety for wheelchair-seated travelers.

Over the past nine years, Dr. van Roosmalen has been involved in three RERCs and has served a task leader in two of them.  Her primary interests are in the universal design of products and technologies for improved transportation usability and safety for people with disabilities.  The focus of her research and development efforts has been on wheelchair securement, occupant restraint system design, and crashworthiness of wheelchair components.  In this regard, Dr. van Roosmalen is also actively involved in technology transfer and has functioned as principal investigator and collaborator on several SBIR and STTR projects aimed at bringing innovative technologies to the marketplace.  She is an active member of the ISO and RESNA committees on Wheelchairs and Transportation.  Dr. van Roosmalen has published widely in national and international peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, has been invited to speak at national conferences and workshops in the areas of wheelchair transportation safety, and has functioned as a reviewer of federal grant applications and journal manuscripts.

Dr. van Roosmalen's website: http://www.pitt.edu/~lvanroos/

Dr. van Roosmalen's e-mail: lvanroos@pitt.edu

Karen Frost, PhD, MBA is an Assistant Professor working in the Injury Risk Assessment and Prevention (iRAP) Laboratory at the University of Louisville. Dr. Frost earned her doctorate degree in Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh in 2004, and completed a Certificate in Clinical Research, Epidemiology and Statistics Training through the School of Public Health and Information Sciences at the University of Louisville in 2008. Dr. Frost was the recipient of a pre-doctoral training fellowship in Rehabilitation Sciences from NIDRR, and received a postdoctoral fellowship under the Integrative Graduate Education & Research Traineeship Program from the National Science Foundation. Dr. Frost previously earned a dual B.A. degree in Communications and English Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, and a M.B.A. from Duquesne University. She is currently working with Dr. Bertocci investigating factors that contribute to wheelchair-related incidents occurring in public transit buses, and is leading a pilot study to asses existing and potential work-related injury risk factors that bus drivers are exposed to during the wheelchair securement process.

Dr. Frost has served as the PI on two SBIR Phase I grants awarded by NICHD for development of wheelchair-related assistive technology. She has also served as a grant proposal reviewer for the NIH STTR/SBIR Clinical Sciences Special Emphasis Section: Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation Sciences Study Section.

Dr. Frost's e-mail: klfrost@mac.com

Kathleen D. Klinich, Ph.D. is an Assistant Research Scientist in the Biosciences Division of UMTRI.  She earned B. S. and M. S. degrees from Case Western Reserve University in mechanical engineering in 1990 and 1994, as well as a B. A. in technical writing in 1990.  She completed her doctorate in mechanical engineering at the University of Michigan in 2006.  She is also a licensed professional engineer and certified Child Passenger Safety Technician.  Prior to joining UMTRI in 1996, she worked as a research engineer for the Transportation Research Center at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Vehicle Research and Test Center.  Dr. Klinich’s research interests focus on protecting occupants in motor-vehicle crashes.  She has experience in analysis of motor-vehicle crashes and crash databases, crash dummy design, laboratory crash reconstruction, development of injury criteria, evaluation of occupant anthropometry and posture, evaluation of child passenger safety issues, and finite element modeling.  She has performed several projects involving organization and analysis of crash investigation data, including a program studying pregnant women in crashes and the crash investigation program involving wheelchair-seated occupants in the first RERC WTS.  Dr. Klinich is actively involved in the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Dummy Testing Equipment Subcommittee, and has authored several award-winning papers in the areas of occupant protection.

Dr. Klinich's e-mail: kklinich@umich.edu


Other Investigators and Support Staff

Carol A. Flannagan, Ph.D. received a BA in statistics in 1989 and completed her doctorate in experimental psychology in 1995.  She has been employed as an Assistant Research Scientist with the Biosciences Division of UMTRI for the past eleven years and provides expertise in experimental design and statistical analysis to a wide range of projects, including studies in automotive anthropometry and occupant positioning, laboratory investigations of human injury tolerance and response, and in-depth crash investigations.  Dr. Flannagan’s use of statistics usually involves methods that fall into the category of General Linear Models.  This includes multiple regression, logistic regression, survival analysis, linear mixed models, ANOVA, and categorical data analysis.  However, she has considerable expertise with a variety of data-reduction methods including principle components, factor analysis, discriminate analysis, and MANOVA.  Most recently, Dr. Flannagan has been involved in the analysis of crash/injury databases from in-depth crash investigations, including databases from National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) CDS, the Crash Injury Research Engineering Network (CIREN), and UMTRI.  Crash analysis projects have covered a wide variety of topics and methods, including analysis of categorical data, analysis of risk, survival analysis, multiple regression and linear mixed models.  In this regard, Dr. Flannagan is a member of the CIREN Data Analysis Committee, which has been charged with determining statistically appropriate ways to analyze CIREN data.  

Dr. Flannagan's e-mail: cacf@umich.edu

Debby Keelan is an administrator for the RERC on Wheelchair Transportation Safety. She provides support related to financial and contractual matters. Debby has a B.S. in Business from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She previously worked in management with General Electric. You can reach Debby at 412.624.6214 or by email at: dkeelan@pitt.edu.

Nathaniel Madura has B.S.E degree in Mechanical Engineering from Virginia Tech.  He joined UMTRI in 2002 and is currently an Engineer in Research in the Biosciences Division where he conducts research in impact biomechanics to determine the mechanisms and tolerance of injury.  Mr. Madura also has strong analytical, mechanical, and instrumentation skills that are used in numerous research activities. These include performing computer simulations of occupant kinematics and kinetics using MADYMO, developing and implementing instrumentation for use in impact testing, designing mechanical test fixtures using Autocad and Cobalt, and developing and using data acquisition and signal processing hardware and software.  In RERC WTS-1, he developed MADYMO models of wheelchair-seated occupants and performed simulations of front and rear impacts.  He also designed, developed engineer drawings for, and supervised the fabrication of the surrogate wheelchair base (SWCB) and a surrogate docking station for testing wheelchairs with UDIG adaptors.

Mr. Madura's e-mail: nmadura@umich.edu

Ashli M. Molinero, D.Sc. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Molinero earned her D.Sc. degree in information systems and communications from Robert Morris University in 2004 and her M.Ed. degree in instructional design and technology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2001. Her experience includes over 10 years in web development and accessibility for people with disabilities. As an educator, she has taught advanced information systems analysis and design and e-business strategies at both the undergraduate and graduate levels in the Department of Computer and Information Systems at Robert Morris University and the School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University. Dr. Molinero has co-authored multiple papers and presented at international conferences on the subject of web accessibility for people with disabilities. She has also co-authored on applications of radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies. New to the RERC in 2007, she supports the knowledge translation activities.

Dr. Molinero's e-mail: ashli@pitt.edu

Jamie Moore is an accident investigator in UMTRI’s Biosciences Division.  Prior to joining UMTRI, she worked as a crash investigator for the NHTSA’s National Automotive Sampling System for five years.  In her eighteen years at UMTRI, she has conducted over 1,000 in-depth investigations of a wide range of crashes including frontal collisions, side impacts, rollovers, and rear impacts.  She has worked on several special crash investigation projects including investigations motor-vehicle crashes involving pregnant woman, children in child safety seats, and low-speed crashes resulting in airbag-induced injuries.  Ms. Moore has also been the primary UMTRI investigator of crashes involving wheelchair-seated occupants in the first RERC on WTS.   She is a co-author of several publications related to UMTRI’s crash investigation research, including studies on airbag effectiveness, offset-frontal impacts and lower-extremity injuries, upper-extremity injuries due to airbag deployment loading, and pregnant women in car crashes.  She is an active member of the Society of Automotive Engineers’ Accident Investigation and Reconstruction Practices Committee, and is a current member of the Michigan Association of Traffic Accident Investigators.

Nichole Ritchie is a Research Engineering Associate who joined UMTRI in 2003.  She has a B. S.E in Biosystems Engineering from Michigan State University and an M. S.E in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan.  Ms. Ritchie’s research interests focus on impact biomechanics and she is the engineer in charge of sled impact testing at UMTRI.  She specializes in performing sled tests of wheelchairs and child restraint systems according to current standards and has helped to develop test protocols for evaluating wheelchair performance in motor-vehicle crashes.  She has also analyzed crash data to investigate trends in knee, thigh and hip fractures in frontal impacts, and to evaluate rib fracture locations and patterns in motor-vehicle crashes.

Ms. Ritchie's e-mail: nritchie@umich.edu

Cheryl Rohall is the administrative assistant for the RERC on Spinal Cord Injury, RERC on Telerehabilitation, RERC on Wheelchair Transportation Safety and the Continuing Education Program. She will provides general clerical support. She possesses over 20 years of administrative experience in areas of accounting/bookkeeping, administration of policies and procedures and computer system operations. You can reach Cheryl at (412) 624-6256 or by email at: crohall@pitt.edu.

Joseph Ruffing, RERC webmaster and graphics designer, is a Communications Specialist for the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh.  His responsibilities include creating, managing and updating the department's web sites and web server.  His responsibilities also include design and production of 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 Sciences and Technology staff.  Mr. Ruffing has an Associate Degree in Specialized Technology, majoring in Visual Communication from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.  He has1,500 hours of specialized training related to graphic design and web-based computer applications, and 21 years of professional experience in the field of graphic design, communications and related technologies.

Mr. Ruffing's e-mail: ruffing@pitt.edu


Advisory Board Members

Bette Cotzin, MS, PT is a physical therapist at the Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD), Ann Arbor, Michigan. For almost 30 years she has served a population of students with severe mental and multiple disabilities, ranging in age from newborn through 26 years. During her tenure, Bette has worked with families, physicians, rehabilitation technicians and vendors in designing and ordering of hundreds of wheelchairs and custom seating systems. She has also worked closely with the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute in efforts related to improving the safe transportation of occupants of wheelchairs. Bette has been a speaker at numerous national and regional conferences related to transportation safety. She has been a member of the advisory board for the RERC on Wheelchair Transportation Safety, which was established in 2001, as well as a voting member of the COWHAT committee. She was a member of the SOWHAT Committee, which developed WC19, and has participated in the University of Pittsburgh's State of the Science Conferences on Wheelchairs. She is a principal author of the WISD document “School Bus Transportation of Students using Wheelchairs.”

Doug Cross has almost 30 years of experience in public transportation consults regarding transit accessibility, paratransit, and community transit alternatives.  From 1996 through 2003, Doug coordinated accessibility for AC Transit in  Oakland, California, with a fully-accessible fleet of 800 fixed-route buses daily serving 230,000 riders, including 700-800 wheelchair users.  He was also responsible for the ADA paratransit service for the East SF Bay area, providing 2500 trips per weekday with a fleet of 190 vehicles. Doug conducted operational evaluations of new wheelchair securement devices, including a pilot of the Cleveland Clinic automated strap system that was successfully commercialized.  Mr. Cross also helped AC Transit implement a model wheelchair securement "Marking and Tether Strap Program" for passengers, as well as the first US application of European-style rear-facing wheelchair stations.  He  recently provided assistance in bus system wheelchair securement policy, procedures, training, and marking/tether strap programs for Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (San Jose) and Gold Coast Transit (Oxnard, Calif.) Doug is a member of the Access Committee of the American Public Transportation Association and has chaired its Wheelchair User Issues Subcommittee.  He is also a member of ANSI/RESNA COWHAT and ISO Technical Committee TC 173/SC 1/WG 6: Wheelchair restraint systems. Doug holds a Bachelors Degree in Urban Planning from the University of Cincinnati.  Mr. Cross’ website is http://www.douglasjcross.com/

Todd Hammon has been living with a C5-6 SCI for 20 years. He studied CAD and mechanical engineering, which led to his current position at Mobility Works in Detroit where he sells motor-vehicle adaptive vehicle for drivers with disabilities. Over the past 20 years he has met and encouraged many newly injured people through his own outreach efforts. He has been involved with an organization called Think First, a nationwide brain and spinal cord awareness program put together by neurosurgeons throughout the country that’s designed to educate young adults on the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord.  For the last 13 years, Todd has been speaking with young adults about spinal cord injuries at the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, middle schools, high schools, driver-training programs, and even at high-school proms.  His goal is to educate teenagers on how to keep themselves safe yet still have fun. Todd brings a strong consumer perspective to the work of the RERC on WTS.

Charlie Hood is the Director of Student Transportation for the State of Florida.  After receiving a degree in Elementary Education, Charlie Hood pursued an interest in things mechanical by working as a full time automotive technician for six years.  During this time, Charlie earned certification as an Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) Master Automotive Technician, and later achieved Master Truck and Bus certification.  In 1981, he wrote several manuals of instruction for vocational students under contract to Florida State University before being hired by the Florida Department of Education as a School Bus Maintenance Specialist. He subsequently served as the Fleet Management Director.  In 1989, he was appointed as the state of Florida’s Director of Student Transportation and has served in that capacity since.

Charlie is Southern Regional Director of the National Association of State Directors of Pupil Transportation Services, a member of the National Association for Pupil Transportation, and a standing board member of the Florida Association for Pupil Transportation.  He has been involved in many initiatives including identifying the need for manufacturers to develop school bus child safety seat products, implementing cost savings in Florida’s school bus driver Commercial Driver License (CDL) program, and documenting the high incidence of motorists illegally passing stopped school buses and developing needed safety countermeasures.  From 1997 to 2005, he served as Chairman of the Steering Committee of the National Congress on School Transportation, which meets every 5 years to develop National School Transportation Specifications and Procedures., He continues to serve on its Steering Committee as Interpretations Chair. 

Dan Lipka is an occupational therapist with over thirty years experience as a rehabilitation technology supplier. He graduated from Wayne State University in 1975 with a BS in Occupational Therapy and obtained a Masters Degree in Special Education from Kent State University in 1985. During the past twenty years, Mr. Lipka has worked as a rehabilitation technology supplier for a family owned medical equipment company; Miller's Rental and Sales. In this capacity, he works with clinicians and consumers of mobility, seating, and other related rehab products to identify equipment that best addresses their needs. Dan is recent past president of the National Registry of Rehabilitation Technology Suppliers (NRRTS) and has served on the Board of Directors for RESNA, the Ohio Occupational Therapy Association, and many other local community organizations.

Maureen McCloskey, JD is the National Advocacy Director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America. Maureen McCloskey joined the Advocacy Department at the Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) as Advocacy Attorney in January 1990, and was named National Advocacy Director in September 1992.  A native of Lakewood, Ohio, she graduated from the University of Kentucky with a bachelors degree in Special Education and received her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center in 1989.  She represents PVA on Capitol Hill on legislation affecting people with disabilities such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and developed PVA’s comments on the proposed relations implementing the ADA.  Ms. McCloskey oversaw several Access to the Skies Conferences and continues to work on enforcement of the Air Carrier Access Act.  She serves as chair of the Transportation Task Force for the Consortium for Citizens with disabilities and Project ACTION’s national steering committee.

Virginia Simson Nelson, MD, MPH is a Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Michigan Medical School and Chief of the Pediatric and Adolescent Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation service at the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital.  She is the co-founder of the UM Wheelchair Seating Clinic.  She has been involved as a physician in wheelchair seating for children and young adults for about 25 years and has presented at regional and national conferences on wheelchair seating.  She has participated in the University of Pittsburgh’s/University of Michigan’s RERC WTS State of the Science conference on wheelchair transportation. 

Clark Shuler has been involved as an advocate for people with disabilities since the time of his spinal cord injury (SCI) in March 1987. His involvement with the Ann Arbor Center for Independent Living began as a Peer Consultant and progressed to Board President. Following that, he accepted a position as a Disability Rights and Education Specialist with the Center. Currently, he has returned to the role of Peer Consultant meeting, weekly with newly injured persons with SCI to try and give them a glimpse of life with an SCI. Clark is also involved with the Michigan Chapter of Paralyzed Veterans of America. He has held every elected office in the chapter and currently serves as its Treasurer. Clark is a past member of the Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns and the Ann Arbor Commission on Disability Concerns. As a consumer, he is keenly interested in improvements in safety and ease of use particularly for users that drive from their wheelchairs. His contribution in this regard is highly valued.

Stephen Sundarrao is the Associate Director of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Technology Program at the University of South Florida (USF). His undergraduate and graduate degrees are in Mechanical Engineering and now he has nearly 15 years as a rehabilitation engineer and nearly 10 years managing a statewide program. He is certified by RESNA as an Assistive Technology Practitioner and Rehabilitation Engineer. He is currently on the Board of Directors of the National Mobility Equipment Dealers Association (NMEDA), National Health Advisory Board for the Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) and the Florida Department of Health’s Disability Taskforce on Bioterrorism. He currently teaches the Capstone Design Course at USF for senior mechanical engineering students, who develop 10-15 new innovative technologies for individuals with disabilities annually. He regularly presents papers at national and international conferences. His research interests include advanced vehicle modifications, ergonomics and mobility devices for individuals with disabilities. He recently received the Presidential Award from NMEDA and an award from the University of Miami for Course Development and Recruitment for their online training in AT. He is actively involved with the Florida State VR program to develop policy and training for better integration of Rehabilitation Technology Services.

Gary L. Talbot is the Assistant General Manager for System-Wide Accessibility with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA). The MBTA operates one of the largest mass transit systems in the U.S. that includes a vast network of bus and rail lines, including rapid bus transportation, and rapid rail, light rail, commuter rail and commuter boat service. Before joining the MBTA in May 2007, Talbot served as a senior engineer for Walt Disney World Ride and Show Engineering.  He was responsible for evaluating existing ride, attraction, transportation and facility accessibility and development of design recommendations for improvement.  In February 2004, President George W. Bush named Talbot to the U.S. Access Board.  Under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other laws, the U.S. Access Board develops and maintains design criteria for the built environment, transportation, telecommunication, and information technology.  In December of 2007, President Bush named Talbot to a second four year term on the U.S. Access Board.  Previous to Walt Disney World, Talbot worked as an engineering group manager for General Motors (GM) and managed GM’s Mobility Center.  The GM Mobility Center was responsible for engineering and development of vehicle features and options specially designed for drivers and passengers with disabilities and seniors.  Talbot, who holds a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Michigan, is active in various trade and civic organizations.  He currently chairs the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) Adaptive Devices Standards Committee (ADSC), which has responsibility for developing technical standards for adaptive devices used in personal use vehicles by persons with disabilities.


Last updated: August 18, 2010

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