2021 Tillman Scholar

Augusto Millevolte

University of Washington

“Working with explosive ordnance disposal taught me the meaning of selfless service. As a research scientist, I aim to help heal through developing better neuroprosthetics.”

Gus enlisted in the Army at 18  where he learned the meaning of camaraderie and service as a communications technician with an explosive ordnance disposal battalion. Several soldiers in his unit were killed or dismembered while disarming explosive devices. These soldiers signed up specifically to mitigate the cost of war, assuming deadly risk for others. When a ping-pong rival and drinking buddy lost both his arms and a leg while disarming an explosive device, Gus knew what he had to do.

Gus has since dedicated his academic and professional pursuits to improving the lives of his dismembered comrades, seeking to help advance neuroprosthetics. Engineers have developed impressive neuroprosthetic limbs that can be controlled with the mind, but their potential for delicate control and sensation have yet to be unlocked. To this end, he attended the University of Wisconsin, where he majored in electrical engineering and neurobiology. As an undergraduate Gus helped research new surgical techniques, culminating in a first-author paper for a technique specific to amputees seeking neuroprosthetics.

Gus is a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington, researching how the learning brain interacts with machines to improve the performance and accessibility of future neuroprosthetics. Gus aims to work with the Veteran Affairs Center for Limb Loss and Mobility, where he hopes to give back sensation and function of limb so servicemembers like his buddy can hold a delicate wineglass or ping-pong paddle once again.