Rising Star Award

The Rising Star Award recognizes an emerging leader in the health and rehabilitation professions whose record reflects his or her ongoing and exceptional growth in practice, research or service; demonstrated leadership and commitment to furthering his or her profession.
Dr. Maria Luisa Toro-Hernandez (Rehabilitation Technology, MS '11; 
Rehabilitation Science, PhD '15)

BS – University CES, Biomedical Engineering, 2007
MS – University of Pittsburgh, Rehabilitation Technology, 2011
PhD – University of Pittsburgh, Rehabilitation Science, 2015


Dr. Maria Luisa Toro-Hernandez is currently a technical consultant in assistive technology to the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Society of Wheelchair Professionals and UCP Wheels for Humanity. In her previous role, she was an assistant professor at University CES in Medellin, Colombia. At Pitt, she worked as a graduate student researcher and teaching assistant in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology while earning each of her degrees.


Toro-Hernandez is a well-regarded leader who is motivated and committed to the inclusion of people with disabilities. In 2017, the National Association of Universities appointed her as the representative of academia to the National Disability Council in Colombia for her advocacy work.


A related effort included leading the facilitation of the first wheelchair sector stakeholders meeting in Colombia to influence public health decisions regarding the topic. Later, she led the first Colombian Seating Symposium, which raised awareness of appropriate seating and mobility products and provision among practitioners, educators and students across the country. Most recently, Toro-Hernandez participated in the 2019 WHO Global Report on effective assistive technology.