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PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Divya Srinivasan

Assistant Professor - Industrial and Systems Engineering, Virginia Tech

Dr. Divya Srinivasan has been leading and conducting research in the topics of Human Factors, Occupational Biomechanics, and Health & Safety for more than 10 years. Her current work spans across several domains of work health and safety including basic biomechanical investigations of neck-shoulder, low-back and lower-limb osteo-arthritic impairments on movement control, muscle loading and performance, innovative design and evaluation of workplace interventions to improve health and safety of office workers while not negatively impacting their work productivity, bio-behavioral monitoring of autistic children using wearable technology, and human factors assessments of flexible robotic suits for farmers with mobility impairments.

Alexander Leonessa

Associate Professor - Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Tech

Dr. Alexander Leonessa has more than 15 years of experience working in the area of control systems with applications to autonomous systems. Particular applications include the design and control of mobile robots (ground, air, and water) as well as humanoid robots including self-balancing exoskeletons for providing mobility to patients with lower limbs paralysis. His expertise with the design, configurability, and control of robotic systems will bring a technology-inspired component to the RCN for the purpose of assessing and evaluating existing technology, as well as the need for future technology to the farming community.

Kim Niewolny

Associate Professor - Community Education and Development, Virginia Tech

Dr. Niewolny’s scholarship broadly centers on the role of power and equity in community education and development with a focus on social justice and food systems. Her research and outreach expertise addresses the role of community-university partnerships, community-based participatory research, capacity building, systems-level network development, cultural community development, and participatory approaches to adult and community-based education from a food and farming systems perspective. In addition to supporting
sustainable development research goals, Dr. Niewolny will be responsible for AgrAbility Virginia and Virginia Beginning Farmer and Rancher Coalition collaboration in the project.