Engage and Enable Blog

In this blog and by sharing our stories, we aim to ENGAGE students, researchers and the public, and ENABLE people who have disabilities.


Justin Thompson was one of the first veterans to take part in the Research Experience for Veterans – University Projects program in Seattle. The program reignited his interest in pursuing graduate work, Thompson said. He’ll start his PhD studies in applied mathematics at the UW this fall.

Teachers building SpikerBoxes and close-up of soldering ironNeuroscientist Greg Gage has made SpikerBoxes famous. His TED-Ed talk from March 2012 has more than half a million views, which is pretty impressive given that it's not a mainstream topic. A SpikerBox demonstrates the principles of electrophysiology, the study of the electrical properties of cells and tissues, using the leg of a cockroach, or other insects and creatures that lack a backbone or spine.

Professor Joel Voldman (center) referees a WrestleBrainia 3000 match.On April 5, dozens of local middle school students stuck electrodes to their arms and observed the power of the electrical signals that travel through their muscles. The activity was part of the Office of Engineering Outreach Programs’ Middle School Mentoring Program, which pairs undergraduate and graduate mentors with middle school students from Boston, Cambridge and Lawrence, Massachusetts.

In a 2013 TED talk, Dr. Andres Lozano, a neurosurgeon from the University of Toronto, talked about his research and work on deep brain stimulation, a technology used to treat Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and other neurological disorders.

Sara Goering majored in psychology as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, where she took classes in neuropsychology. She also worked in a learning and memory lab. “It was interesting stuff,” she said. “I liked studying brains, and looking for differences in those brains.” This early work with brains in a lab has come full circle for Goering, who has a PhD in philosophy. It now helps inform her current gig with the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE), a NSF-backed Engineering Research Center (ERC) based at the University of Washington in Seattle. The philosophy professor was tapped to work with the Center based on her work studying disabilities.