Improving Physical Rehabilitation: Brecca Gaffney

Brecca Gaffney is a mechanical engineer and postdoctoral research fellow in the Program in Physical Therapy at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Gaffney uses biomechanics, or the engineering-based study of the mechanics of human movement, to understand how motion affects the human body. By utilizing musculoskeletal modeling, her research aims to improve treatment for patients who are seeking rehabilitation for an injury or movement disorder. The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellowship will provide funding for Gaffney to pursue the link between chronic hip pain and the development of low back pain and to hire a female Biomechanical Engineering undergraduate research assistant. As part of her fellowship, Gaffney will also partner with the non-profit Mission: St. Louis by serving as a Beyond School mentor, where she works with low-income female high school students in math, science, and reading proficiency. Gaffney, 30, received a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Denver, M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Denver and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. Born and raised in Colorado, Gaffney played collegiate basketball and now lives in St. Louis, Missouri where she enjoys running, hiking, and spending time with her dog Gryff.