Martina Spiess, a Ph.D student in the college’s Rehabilitation Science Doctoral Program, received an Alec Courtelis International Student Academic Award at a ceremony hosted by UF’s International Center on Nov. 17.
Spiess, a native of Switzerland, focuses her research on locomotor recovery after spinal cord injuries. Her work has been published in the Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, the Journal of Neurotrama and the Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine.
She is an active member of the Graduate Student Council and helped organize the council’s 2011 research conference in February.
Spiess’ contributions also extend to the Gainesville community where she has volunteered to judge middle and high school science fairs and mentored young students through the Collegiates Helping as Mentors in Public Schools program. She visits schools as a member of the UF International Student Speakers Bureau, and has participated in the Levy County Library Summer program.
“Coming to UF has been a wonderful experience so far and I consider myself very lucky to have gotten this chance,” Spiess said.
Several friends and supporters joined her at the International Center awards ceremony, including Donald and Susan McClure, Spiess’ host parents from her high school exchange year in Pennsylvania, and Linda Cameron Finch of Atlanta, Spiess’ boyfriend’s mother. Her parents Robert and Beatrice Spiess stayed up through the middle of the night in Switzerland to watch the Web broadcast of the ceremony.
“I would not be here without their incredible love and support,” Spiess said. “I am also grateful to my wonderful mentors Drs. Andrea Behrman, Carolynn Patten and Dena Howland and all the faculty of the RSD program, the generous people that recommended me for this award, the UF International Center, Mrs. Louise Courtelis, my boyfriend Cameron Finch, and my wonderful friends and family who are always there to support me.”