PITTSBURGH (April 9, 2019) … Maria Jantz, a bioengineering graduate student at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering, was selected to receive the 2019 National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship Award. The competitive fellowship, which received more than 2,900 applications, recognizes academic excellence in STEM fields and awards up to three years of full tuition, a monthly stipend, health insurance, and a travel budget for research-related training and/or conferences.
Jantz received her undergraduate degree in physics at Goshen College, where she developed an interest in prostheses. Following college, she worked with Professors Lee Miller and Matthew Tresch at Northwestern University to use functional electrical stimulation to restore locomotion following spinal cord injuries. She has continued to explore these interests at Pitt and joined the lab of Robert Gaunt, assistant professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation, where she studies epidural stimulation of the spinal cord to improve bladder control.
“After spinal cord injuries, bladder control is one of the most important functions people want to have restored,” said Jantz. “By applying electrical stimulation to the surface of the spinal cord, we can activate nerves in that region to produce bladder reflexes that improve continence and voiding.
“Spinal cord stimulation is a really exciting area of research with a lot of possibilities that we are only now figuring out, and I'm very happy to be a part of that,” Jantz continued. “With an application in bladder control, specifically, I get to improve an issue that many people deal with daily that regularly goes unaddressed, and I think it's really important to meet that need.”
In 2018 Jantz was awarded an honorable mention from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program and was the recipient of the best oral presentation award from the Society for Pelvic Research.
“I feel very fortunate to have Maria working in my lab on a problem that is such a significant issue for so many people,” said Gaunt. “This award recognizes Maria’s outstanding talents and abilities, and I’m really looking forward to see what she is able to accomplish with this generous support!”
Contact: Leah Russell