Neuromechanics at Oregon State University combines the classic sub-disciplines of biomechanics and motor control. Specifically, we are interested in how the nervous system and musculoskeletal system work together to produce human movement and the relationships between specific movement patterns and musculoskeletal health.
Study of neuromechanics at OSU is integrated with exercise physiology within the Biophysical Kinesiology concentration of the degree in Kinesiology. Both MS and PhD options are offered (Please be sure to read the “Information for Graduate Applicants” below). Our aim is that students within this graduate concentration develop a holistic understanding of the biological and physical aspects of human movement in the greater context of public health. Students will also gain training and practical experience in the basic tools and methods needed to be successful in researching human movement, whether in clinical, occupational, or sport applications. Students’ programs of study are tailored to meet individual interests. Coursework may encompass biomechanics, motor control, exercise physiology, research methods, public health, psychosocial kinesiology, engineering, and the life sciences.
Additionally, the aim of the PhD option is to develop academic scholars specifically trained to independently design, conduct, and disseminate cutting-edge research. As such, there is a heavy emphasis on research training, as well as on academic professional development.
Research in neuromechanics at OSU currently focuses on clinical and ergonomic applications of biomechanics and motor control, with an emphasis on injury prevention. Both experimental and modeling approaches are used. Research projects of the faculty and their associated graduate students generally fall into one of the following areas:
Recent Doctoral, Master’s, and undergraduate Honors College thesis/dissertation topics have included:
Collaborative research has also been conducted with OSU students and faculty in Movement Studies in Disability, the Skeletal Biology Laboratory, Public Health, the National Center for Accessible Transportation, and Mechanical Engineering.
Past and current research projects have been supported by agencies that include the U.S. Department of Education (NIDRR), the National Institutes of Health, National Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Education Foundation, and the Good Samaritan Hospital Foundation, as well as through the OSU Research Office, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and Center for Healthy Aging Research.
Our research results have been disseminated though numerous publications and at the national conferences of such organizations as the American Society of Biomechanics, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, the American College of Sports Medicine, and the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.
Research activities in neuromechanics are conducted in two laboratory spaces. Faculty and students in neuromechanics are able to use both of these spaces and the research equipment they house.
The Biomechanics Laboratory is a 2000 square-foot, multi-purpose research space located on the ground floor of the Women’s Building. It includes an open data collection area with adequate dimensions (35’ x 25’ x 12’) for studying a wide variety of activities, with attached workspaces for strength testing, data analysis, and device fabrication/storage.
Located across the hallway is a second, 600 square-foot laboratory space used for sensorimotor testing and data analysis.
The research equipment within these laboratories encompasses a full array of tools for the study of neuromechanics, including:
Mike Pavol, PhD
Associate Professor, Kinesiology. Research interests are in the neuromechanics of falls and fracture prevention in older adults, and in the biomechanics of transfers of people with mobility disabilities.
Marc Norcross, PhD, ATC
Assistant Professor, Kinesiology. Current research focus is the quantification of lower extremity energy absorption during landing in an effort to both understand non-contact ACL injury mechanisms and identify modifiable biomechanical factors that should be targeted in ACL injury prevention programs.
Sam Johnson, PhD, ATC, CSCS
Clinical Assistant Professor, Kinesiology. Research focus is on understanding underlying neural mechanisms for improving explosive muscle performance, particularly as it relates to injury prevention and athletic performance.
Mark Hoffman, PhD, ATC, FACSM
Vice Provost for International Programs, Oregon State University. Research focus is in the study of the sensory and motor systems of the human body in an attempt to gain a better understanding of their mechanisms for the promotion of human movement, physical activity, and the prevention of injury.
Christine Pollard, PhD, PT
Associate Professor, Kinesiology, OSU-Cascades. Current research foci are: 1) identifying potential mechanisms underlying the disproportionate incidence of ACL injuries in female athletes, 2) identifying biomechanical changes at the knee in individuals post-ACL reconstruction, 3) examining the influence of knee bracing on lower extremity mechanics, and 4) examining the influence of various footwear on running mechanics. The majority of Dr. Pollard’s research is conducted at the FORCE lab in Bend, OR.
Kim Hannigan, PhD, ATC
Clinical Associate Professor, Kinesiology. Research interests are in the area of biomechanics of motion as it relates to pathological conditions of the foot. Projects include the comparison of static clinical exam assessments to the kinematic three-dimensional evaluation of dynamic foot motion.
Graduate students in neuromechanics are encouraged to perform their thesis/dissertation research in their major professor’s areas of research focus. Thus, before applying, individuals should contact the specific faculty member(s) with whom they are interested in conducting their research, as the preferred qualifications and capacity to accept new students may differ between faculty members. Graduate assistantships are typically available to highly qualified students.