3D Learning Techniques

November 4, 2022

Associate professor of Physical Therapy receives grant to further her research

Dr. Debora KaliskiWhat would you do with $10,000? Dr. Debora Zamora Kaliski, associate professor in the UIW School of Physical Therapy, had the opportunity to answer this question when she received the Seed Grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

“Grant funds will be used to build an initial set of 20 brachial plexus boards to start conducting research,” shared Kaliski. “The grant will also be used to buy a CO2 laser cutter and engraver which will be used to create additional learning tools. Therefore, the awarded grant will be essential support in my growth as a researcher and will foster opportunities to collaborate and share my findings with the community.”

Kaliski, a San Antonio native, is a first-generation graduate who values the opportunities that arise through earning a doctoral degree. Her current research focuses on the anatomy of the brachial plexus, the nerves that send signals from the spinal cord to the shoulder, arm and hand. According to Kaliski, this knowledge is key for students in Physical Therapy to understand, but many find it to be a challenging Students learning with the brachial plexus board subject.

The effectiveness of the 3-D board (pictured right) will be determined by comparing anatomy learned through the traditional method of drawing the brachial plexus versus building the anatomy of the brachial plexus with yarn via the board.

To apply for the Seed Grant to help fund her research, “Anatomy in String: An Active Approach to Learning Anatomy using a Three-Dimensional Learning Tool," Kaliski submitted a one-page proposal cover sheet, a one-page narrative on need and the potential impact the grant could have on her career advancement, and a budget estimate. Applicants had to be Sloan Scholars, and must be tenure-track assistant professors, tenured associate professors or full professors.

“I was a Sloan Minority PhD Program scholarship recipient, which supported my final year in the PhD program at UTSA,” said Kaliski. “Through that scholarship, I became a Sloan Scholar and a member of the Sloan Scholars Mentoring Network. This network has helped provide professional development, mentoring and leadership training opportunities.”

The Sloan Graduate Scholarship Programs are aimed at helping diversify the U.S. PhD degree-holding workforce through increasing recruitment, retention and graduation of underrepresented doctoral students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. They also work to prepare doctoral students from underrepresented minorities for careers in academia.