Frazier selected for DoD National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship

Weldon School PhD student Lizzy Frazier was recently selected to receive the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship.
Elizabeth Frazier
Elizabeth (Lizzie) Frazier, Purdue University Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering PhD student.

The NDSEG Fellowship is designed to increase the number of U.S. citizens or nationals trained in disciplines of science and engineering of military importance. Applicants submit a research proposal to the program in response to the current research interests of one the following agencies: the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Army Research Office (ARO) or the Office of Naval Research (ONR). Fellows are paired with mentors who are current research scientists for the DoD.

Frazier earned her BS in biological engineering from Purdue ('22) and currently serves as a graduate research assistant for Professors Maria Dadarlat Makin, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, and Anne Sereno, professor of psychological sciences and biomedical engineering. Sereno said "Lizzy is driven to tackle issues that can be applied – she is not happy to merely engineer an algorithm or process without a clear way to apply it and improve human existence."

Frazier's PhD research is focused on how neurotrauma affects sensory perception and perceptual decision-making at the physiological (brain/neural) and behavioral levels. More specifically, studying the impact of mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI) on more relevant complex stimuli perception, such as global motion perception, has proved especially challenging due to the involvement of multiple regions of the visual cortex. Therefore, Frazier strives to develop a model of the relationship between visual circuit dysfunction and visual acuity following mTBI, which could provide critical insights into the pathophysiology and prognosis of mTBI patients and offer an improvement to modern TBI assessments which primarily capture sensorimotor deficits. 

Due to the increased use of high-powered explosives in modern warfare, a traumatic brain injury is often the characteristic injury.

"The project Lizzy is working on will have importance in identifying the mechanisms needed for perceptual decision making and how a mild traumatic brain injury alters these physiological circuits and behavior," said Sereno. "In addition, her findings may also provide methods to develop quick tools for diagnosis or evaluation of interventions."

Following her PhD, Frazier is still undecided if she wants to stay in academia or head to industry. "I plan to pursue a career in investigating perceptual decision-making and the role it plays in advanced brain-computer interfaces (BCIs)," said Frazier. "Specifically, I'm interested in BCIs that will allow us to create advanced sensory prosthetics (e.g. artificial vision) or enhance existing sensory capabilities."