ISB Travel Grant Reports

Posted on September 27, 2013

Stephen M. Suydam, Delaware, USA

Delaware Rehabilitation Institute, University of Delaware.

The International Society of Biomechanics XXIV Biennial Congress was a fantastic representation of the pioneer researchers of the biomechanical world as well as the up and coming researchers of both well established and economically developing countries. The intriguing opening keynote of Dr. Nicolelis was a foreshadowing of the unique talks to come. The amazing concept he introduced of bypassing the human neural drive to operate an exoskeleton was only eclipsed by the promised first kick by a paraplegic at the 2014 World Cup. The unique keynotes reached a zenith with Jim Parry bringing a new perspective to the congress with his ideas of superhumanism verses transhumanism. His defining of sport, equality of competition, and the impossibility of predicting what is going to distinguish the post-human left the delegates with a philosophical spin on the day. Another great talk included Benno Nigg speaking with great authority on a lifetime of research tying in footwear and flooring surfaces, but made no point greater than reminding researchers of the time that remains for them and what is possible to be accomplished. An additionally well-established researcher was Roberto Merletti who reiterated the importance of understanding EMG before using it as a tool. A presentation highlight was the understanding of the innervation zones locations and the impact of such to the EMG. Knowing the innervation zones allows researchers to ask a wealth of new questions about neuromuscular control in a clinical setting.

Beyond the keynotes were some great talks during the oral sessions and posters. A number of stirring talks on the subject of footwear involved with running and sprinting continued the barefoot debate which was supplemented by several foot strike pattern studies. The Young Investigator Awards presented some excellent science including award winner E.K. Moo’s study on cell membrane tension and Jennifer Nicols talk on moment arms at the wrist after surgery. The audience showed a strong interest in the concept of a membrane protecting the knee cartilage in addition to the proteoglycan aggregate in the cartilage matrix following Moo’s talk and Nichols provided a clinically well founded study on what occurs after a wrist arthritis surgery.

A new format of research discussion was held on the topic of the knee joint. Scott Delp, Eirik Kristianslund, and Bridget Munro started the conversation with presentations on adduction moment (Delp) and motion capture filtering (Kristianslund). Voting cards signified audience opinion of posed, industry questions. The filtering questions of whether to match marker and force plate filtering led to an idea of matching is more important in highly dynamic situations. The importance of the knee adduction moment in the progression of osteoarthritis was left to be concluded.

A take home from this conference is the coming promise in the field of biomechanics. The scientists of Brazil showed that developing nations are taking a strong interest in the field and the presentations of the Young Investigator Awards showed off the talents of clever neo-researchers which all allude to a bright future for the ISB community. The new debate formatting, topics of interest and modeling techniques are cause for excitement in the years to come. Combining the projections from this conference and an enticing advertisement for the XXV ISB conference, Glasgow promises to be a delight for all attending.


Meghan Vidt, North Carolina, USA

PhD Candidate, Wake Forest University.

I wish to express my deepest gratitude to ISB for selecting me as a recipient of a Congress Travel Grant to attend the XXIV Congress in Natal, Brazil and the Satellite Symposium on Muscle-Tendon Injury.  Wow! What a tremendous experience! I honestly don’t think it can get much better when you get to meet and interact with biomechanics researchers, especially after the conference organizers specifically plan for you to play each morning in the tropical paradise that is Natal.

The conference began with a great demonstration of Brazil’s futbol skills and a remarkable keynote lecture that gave a teaser for the upcoming World Cup 2014. Of course, this is not to say that any of the remaining keynotes were anything less than excellent, as well. Mixing and mingling with old friends and meeting new colleagues from around the world was one of the things that made ISB such a special conference, and there was plenty of opportunity for these interactions.  I was amazed at how friendly and welcoming everyone was – from the students all the way up to the leaders of our field. This temperament was carried over into the poster sessions, where engaging conversations could take place. I was excited and encouraged to see such depth in the research activities with approaches ranging from clinical to computational and anatomical regions from head to toe being studied. There is certainly something for everyone at ISB.

The podium sessions were equally as captivating and they covered just as wide of a range of topics. During the International Shoulder Group Special Session, where I had the opportunity to present some of my research, I was able to interact with and learn from the stimulating conversations that ensued during the session. These discussions are always my favorite part of conferences, as they help the research to come to life.

During the Satellite Symposium, I was able to have the one-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from several of the world’s experts about their research in and opinions regarding the future of muscle-tendon injury. I learned so much during the ISB Congress and accompanying Satellite Symposium and have met many new researchers. I have returned from the conference refreshed and energized, with several new ideas to incorporate into my own research. Thank you again to ISB for awarding me this Travel Grant which allowed me to attend this conference. I can’t wait to see everyone at ISB 2015 in Glasgow!


Philippe Dixon, Oxford, UK

Department of Engineering Science, Orthopaedic Biomechanics group, University of Oxford.

In august 2013, I had the pleasure to leave the pseudo-summer of England behind for a week to attend the ISB Conference in sunny Brazil. I arrived one day ahead of the conference and took the opportunity to visit nearby Pipa beach with some friends I had met at the previous conference in Brussels. This was the perfect way to relax before a full week of presentations and keynote lectures.

I presented a poster outlining the early stages of my PhD research on the biomechanics of turning gait in children. My work was well received and gave me the chance to meet colleagues from around the world working on similar topics. I was even able to start a collaboration with a laboratory in Singapore interested in using a technique I developed. There were a number of fascinating presentations, but the ones that specifically caught my attention were related to analysis methods for continuous curves. I was happy to see a growing interest in this area by a number of researchers. A few of us even missed the cocktail hour one evening as we stayed behind in an empty lecture theatre discussing the merits of various approaches! Finally, both the opening Wartenweiler Memorial lecture by Dr. Miguel Nicolelis and Benno Nigg’s Muybridge Award retirement lecture were simply inspiring to say the least.

I also participated in a roundtable mentoring session organized by the ISB student council. This session was designed to help graduate students prepare for work in academics or industry. I found the session quite rewarding and gained some insights on the publication process from Dr. Walter Herzog. Dr. Darren Stefanyshyn also provided helpful strategies to help us plan our first appointment after completing our doctoral work. As a bonus, all participants of the session were also invited to a beach excursion where I got to experience, “with emotion”, riding in a sand dune buggy. It was a great way to meet other graduate students in a more informal setting. A big thanks goes out to Antonia Zaferiou and the student committee for organizing this event.

I have attended a number of conferences in the past, but I can definitely say that I found this one to be particularly valuable. I left with a renewed sense of motivation, a number of new methods to improve my data analysis, new contacts, and a better sense of where I’m going. I would truly thank the ISB congress travel grant committee for this great opportunity.



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