Student Travel Grant Reports – Dec. 2017

Posted on March 26, 2018

Student Travel Grant Report from Nuno Morais, Patrick Bakenecker & Allison Clouthier

  • Nuno Morais

I would like to thank the ISB for the generous Congress Travel Grant of $1000. This was a fundamental financial assistance to participate in the XXVI Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, in Brisbane, Australia. I feel very privileged to have attended this congress, having the opportunity to discuss formally (during sessions) and informally (e.g., during coffee breaks) with well renowned researchers in biomechanics, particularly in musculoskeletal and clinical/rehabilitation biomechanics.

The congress was extremely well organized. Social activities, oral and poster presentations, keynote sessions, exhibitors’ sessions were all orchestrated and the delegates could easily master the extensive program by simply navigating, selecting, and scheduling the events using the congress app. For example, the most relevant presentations in the field of my doctoral work (on shoulder kinematics and rehabilitation) were in different sessions but it was not difficult to plan to attend those with the highest significance using the congress app.

I would like to highlight the Student Round Table Lunch. This was a fundamental event to integrate all students in the spirit of sharing experiences, expectations, discuss career opportunities with some of the most influential researchers such as Professors Walter Herzog (winner of the Muybridge Award) and Joseph Hammill.

A rewarding experience with the hope to repeat in the near future.

Sincerely, Nuno Morais         31 October 2017

Polytechnic Institute of Leiria School of Health Sciences (ESSLei) Leiria – PORTUGAL


  • Patrick Bakenecker

For me the ISB2017 was a very successful and interesting conference in the field of biomechanics attending very interesting talks and meeting many other delegates working in my field of expertise. Thank you for the opportunity to attend and having a contribution to the Congress. It was an exciting event, which had wonderful vibe and atmosphere over the five days.

The conference started for me on Sunday with the offered tutorials. For me it began with the tutorial to “biologically-inspired concepts guiding lower-limb exoskeleton design” which focused on the basic science of human-machine interaction in the context of lower-limb exoskeletons that target the human ankle during locomotion. The most interesting part was a live demonstration showcasing the function of an unpowered elastic ankle exoskeleton that can reduce the metabolic energy cost of human walking. I also attended the tutorial to “ultrasound techniques for muscle-tendon imaging” which was very interesting for me, because I am also using ultrasound to detect fascicle behavior during my PhD work. This tutorial presented an overview of the ultrasound methods that enable muscle and tendinous tissues to be imaged in real time. It introduced B-mode imaging and advanced methods to assess displacements within the muscle-tendon unit and the issue of probe positioning for 2-D measurements were discussed through examples of the human medial gastrocnemius muscle.

In the following days I mostly attended the sessions with talks to Musculoskeletal Biomechanics with amazing speakers like Taija Finni, Ben Hoffman, Bart Bolsterlee, Taylor Dick or Dominic Farris. But there were also some interesting talks under the topic of Motor Control. There was the talk from Glen Lichtwark to “the potential influence of tendon compliance on sensory feedback from lower limb muscles” which I still have in mind.

The contribution to the congress on my site was my poster presentation where I had the opportunity to present a part of my PhD work with the topic “residual force enhancement is muscle length-dependent in the human knee extensors”. I can say that it was a successful poster presentation as I had very interesting discussions with other delegates who showed interest into my work.

At the end the most inspiring talk gave Walter Herzog during the Muybrige Award Lecture with the topic “Reflections on Muscle: or the Accidental Scientist” where he spoke about his hole scientific career with all his challenges and the way to success while working in your passion.

The conference ended with a great closing ceremony. The dinner and the entertainment were fantastic and enjoyed it very much.

Beside the conference it was a pleasure to visit Brisbane as a wonderful city with so much opportunities to have great food and many activities to do in your spare time.


  • Allison Clouthier

I was able to attend the International Society of Biomechanics conference in Brisbane this July. Travelling from Canada to Australia is expensive, and the Congress Travel Grant made my travel possible. The conference was an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to share my research and receive useful feedback, to engage with other researchers in my area, and to learn about the new and exciting research happening in biomechanics around the world. The mentorship programs provided a great way to meet people with established careers in biomechanics and receive useful advice. I was able to meet up with old colleagues and to make new contacts and organization and content of the conference was exceptional.

Thank you to the ISB for providing me with this grant that made travel to a fantastic conference possible!

Allison Clouthier


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Matching Dissertation Grant Reports – K.M. Rowley

Posted on March 26, 2018


Name of Investigators: K. Michael Rowley, BS, BA, Advisor: Kornelia Kulig, PT, PhD, FAPTA

Name of Grant: Interfering with conscious motor processing during dynamic balance: Investigating persons with and without recurrent low back pain

The International Society of Biomechanics’ Matching Dissertation Grant was used to investigate the effects of dual-task interference on trunk control during a dynamic unstable balance task in participants with and without recurrent low back pain (LBP). Associations between these effects and psychometric and motor control measures were tested in order to better our understanding of interactions between cognition, posture, and a history of pain.

Twenty-one participants with recurrent low back pain and twenty-two pain-free control participants were recruited and tested. First, the balance-dexterity task was characterized by investigating associations between task performance, trunk coordination, and various electromyographic and psychometric measures. Then, groups were compared. Persons with a history of low back pain exhibited reduced trunk coupling – meaning more dissociated or independent motion of the thorax and pelvis segments. This reduced trunk coupling was associated with the ratio of lumbar multifidus activation to lumbar erector spinae activation. In pain-free control participants, there was no uniform change in trunk coupling from single- to dual-task conditions – some participants became more tightly coupled in the trunk and some increased independent motion of the trunk segments (less coupling). Participants with recurrent low back pain, however, showed a uniform increase in trunk coupling from single- to dual-task conditions.

These findings will support the use of the balance-dexterity task in clinical and research evaluations of trunk control. In addition, the findings are important for informing rehabilitation given that dual-tasking is often prescribed during rehab to practice real-life situations. Findings from continued work on this study will help us learn more about interactions between attention, psychometric measures, and motor control measures in patients with recurrent low back pain. Understanding these interactions will enhance multi-modal treatments, which up until now have been marginally successful.

I am very grateful to the International Society of Biomechanics for the support in completing this dissertation.

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ISB Grants Awarded

Posted on June 7, 2017

We are pleased to report that between December 2016 and April 2017, 28 Student Grants were funded by the ISB. The majority of these (21) are to help support the costs of travelling to ISB2017 in Brisbane. The remainder were for the Matching Dissertation Grant, the International Travel Grant and the Technical Group Travel Grant.  The successful applicants are from the USA, Europe, Canada, Brazil and Australia and the total amount awarded by ISB was more than 34,000 USD. It's great to see so many high quality applications from around the world.

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ISB Grant Reports

Posted on March 27, 2017

Research visit to learn ultrasound elastography method

András Hegyi, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

I am studying hamstring muscles as a Ph.D. student under the supervision of Prof. Neil Cronin and Prof. Taija Finni at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. I recently visited Prof. Antoine Nordez and Prof. François Hug at the Laboratory “Movement, Interactions, Performance”, University of Nantes (France) to learn ultrasound elastography method and apply it on hamstring muscles during muscle contractions. However, I happened to receive much more than I expected.

I spent around 2 months in this nice historical city. One month before my trip we had a meeting with Antoine Nordez and François Hug in Finland. My excitement started at this point, due to 2 reasons: first, they told me that no-one speaks English in Nantes, and second, that Nantes is a very rainy and dark city. After this point, I do not remember the rest of our talk, which was probably about my visit. But I was just thinking that if I get lost while going to the lab I cannot ask anyone where to go and cannot see the soaked map in the darkness either. Therefore, my first thing before I left my lovely English-speaking Finland was to pick up the most important French words from a dictionary to survive and to buy a super good raincoat.

On the day traveling there I was quite confident that I am well prepared. I slept one night in Paris on my way to Nantes. I rented a room there, and the first surprising thing was that the landlord spoke English pretty well! Before getting too happy he told me that Nantes is different, no-one speaks English there. But I learned the most important French words so no problem – I thought! Next surprise touched me when I arrived in Nantes: the sky was clear so it was a beautiful sunny day! It made me confident when I went to drink my first coffee in there. I ordered with my nice French knowledge. But they were just staring at me… Then I realized that they pronounce their romantic words completely differently than they write them! Well, in about 15 minutes I dived into the delicious flavor of their coffee and forgot about this incident for a while.

Although I could write much more about this lovely city (which had clear sky almost every day while I was there!), let me share some of my experiences in the lab, where I spent most of my days. I spent there a lot of time not only because everyone was speaking English in the lab but mainly because I could be part of an outstanding research team. Lilian Lacourpaille and Killian Bouillard post-docs helped me to learn ultrasound elastography method. We had many difficulties with recording reliably from hamstrings during contraction, which however forced me to dive deep inside to the methodology and gain a confident knowledge in using the method and interpreting the results. As an unexpected bonus, I also learned how to set up and use freehand 3-D ultrasound, another state-of-the-art method. To not get bored with studying human movements, I could also participate in a study where the validity of the ultrasound extended field of view imaging was tested on a delicious-looking meat, which was my first afterlife experiment. Even though everyone was very busy with his own things we had many meetings and discussions.

I experienced an outstanding hospitality in a great-working lab. Besides doing hard work in the lab I also had the opportunity to enjoy life outside the lab by visiting bars and eating delicious food in restaurants with these friendly researchers. This visit provided not only great opportunities for future research collaborations but established long-lasting friendships, hopefully. However, I still do not believe that Nantes is a rainy city, therefore, I will definitely go back to test it again!

Hereby, I would like to thank the International Society of Biomechanics for making my research visit possible, which was definitely one of my best experiences during my Ph.D. so far. I also thank Prof Antoine Nordez, François Hug and everyone in the lab for making my visit a great experience.


Visit to Nice to study high-performance training

Scott R Brown

What a year it has been. For me, 2016 started out like many other years before; filled with an incredibly long list of things to do and no idea on where to start. As a doctoral candidate in my final year of study at Auckland University of Technology (AUT), I understood the importance of knuckling-down and finishing my thesis. However, as a young researcher trying to make a name for myself, I also valued the importance of travel, conference presentation, collaboration and enjoying life. While perhaps difficult to imagine the cohabitation of these ideals, I was bound to make it happen.

Several years ago, while he was speaking at the Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand (SPRINZ) Conference, I had the privilege of meeting Professor Jean-Benoît Morin from Université Côte d’Azur in Nice, France. Since our meeting, we have not only stayed in touch but have also worked on several manuscripts together (from afar). In the beginning of 2016, we discussed my involvement in a project occurring in Nice and whether I could fit it into my busy year. Of course my answer was yes and I frantically began searching for funding opportunities.

When I came across the ISB Student International Travel Grant, I knew it was meant to be. Not only was I an active member of ISB, but Professor Morin and my PhD supervisor Professor Patria Hume were as well. A research proposal and a few letters of recommendation later and I was in! The grant funding helped me to afford the hefty costs of flying from Auckland, NZL to Nice, FRA, accommodation for four weeks and other necessities like food and transportation. More importantly, the grant helped me live the life that I wanted to live by traveling, collaborating and experiencing such a wonderful part of the world.

While in Nice, Professor Morin and I worked alongside Dr Pedro Jiménez-Reyes from Universidad Católica San Antonio de Murcia, Murcia, ESP on a project in sprinting. We spent several days Skyping with our collaborative team at Université Savoie Mont Blanc, Chambéry, FRA (Dr Pierre Samozino and Mr Matt Cross) and Glasgow Warriors, Scotstoun Stadium, Glasgow, GBR (George Petrakos) to ensure we had presented a clear and impactful message in our manuscript. Before my time was up in Nice we were able to submit our project titled, “Very-heavy sled training for improving horizontal force output in soccer players” to the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance.

Now, six months after my trip I am re-examining the most important aspects of my trip to Nice. Our manuscript has been accepted, is currently in press and I had successfully defended my PhD. While these are all great achievements academically, I find that I hold more valuable the discussions had with Professor Morin about life as a husband, father, teacher, researcher and athlete; and how anyone can be great at all of them simultaneously if you prioritise wisely. I cherish my memories enjoying the French cheese and beer with this amazing group of individuals (including a surprise visit by Dr Yann Le Meur from AS Monaco Football Club, Monaco, FRA), their supportive families and my lovely fiancé Erin during the warm summer on the French Riviera. I live differently today (academically and personally) because of my experiences travelling to Nice last year. I know that I have the council members for the ISB Student International Travel Grant and my collaborative European team to thank for this wonderful experience. Merci, gracias, kia ora and thank you!


Matching Dissertation Grant funded work into total knee replacement

Kevin Valenzuela

In February 2016, I received the email of my receiving the ISB Matching Dissertation grant.  I immediately put this money to work as my dissertation research had also just cleared the IRB protocol at my university.  The bulk of the money in the grant went to subject recruitment.  My research involves the investigation of biomechanical, strength, balance, and functional factors related to total knee replacement patients and their satisfaction levels with their replaced joint.  The overall goal was to look for identifiable physical characteristics which contribute to patient dissatisfaction.  In order to examine this, we chose to assess 3D kinematics and kinetics for over ground walking, stair ascent, and stair descent.  Additionally, we tested isokinetic knee flexion and extension strength, bilateral and unilateral balance abilities, and some functional tests frequently used in the rehabilitation process for total knee replacement patients.

As of the date of this report, we have finished collecting and processing data and are currently writing up four different manuscripts.  We spent approximately 10 months sorting through records of a local orthopaedic surgeon, identifying patients who fit our criteria, opening the lines of communication, and finally performing our data collections on them.  Each participant visited our lab on two different days to perform all of our tests.  During that 10 months, plus an additional two, we processed and analyzed all of our data, while compiling two abstracts in the process for conference presentation (one of which is the ISB conference).

We have examined a variety of variables we believe are related to patient dissatisfaction, which will be evident in the four manuscripts being written.  The first is on the strength, balance, and deep knee flexion abilities of our three participant groups (dissatisfied knee replacement patients, satisfied knee replacement patients, and a healthy control group).  The second is on the overground walking movement profile of the dissatisfied patient group as compared to the other two groups.  The third is on the stair ascent and descent movement profile.  Finally, the fourth, which is the exciting part of this entire project, is to perform a logistic regression on the data collected in order to find the variables which best predict patient satisfaction.

This project has been an adventure and a huge learning process.  From myself and those who have helped along the way, we want to sincerely thank ISB for their support of this project.  The monetary support provided and the faith placed in this project has been incredibly rewarding and helpful.  To know that it has the backing of an international institution in our field has provided a tremendous amount of moral support during the tough parts of the project.  Thank you very much for all the support.


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ISB Matching Dissertation Grant: Lauren Benson

Posted on December 19, 2016

With the funds I received from the ISB Matching Dissertation Grant, and a matching amount from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Health Sciences, I was able to complete my dissertation.  My project was titled “Identifying Gait Deficits in Stroke Patients Using Inertial Sensors.”  Falls remain a significant problem for stroke patients.  Tripping, the main cause of falls, occurs when there is insufficient clearance between the foot and ground.  Based on an individual’s gait deficits, different kinematic patterns are necessary to achieve adequate foot clearance during walking.  However, gait deficits are typically only quantified in a research or clinical setting, and it would be helpful to use wearable devices to quantify gait disorders in real-world situations.  Therefore, the objective of this project was to understand gait characteristics that influence the risk of tripping, and to detect these characteristics using accelerometers.

Thirty-five participants with a range of walking abilities performed normal walking and attempted to avoid tripping on an unexpected object while gait characteristics were quantified using motion capture techniques and accelerometers.  Multiple regression was used to identify the relationship between joint coordination and foot clearance, and multiple analysis of variance was used to determine characteristics of gait that differ between demographic groups, as well as those that enable obstacle avoidance.  Machine learning techniques were employed to detect joint angles and the risk of tripping from patterns in accelerometer signals.

Measures of foot clearance that represent toe height throughout swing instead of at a single time point are more sensitive to changes in joint coordination.  Participants with a history of falls or stroke perform worse than older non-fallers and young adults on many factors related to falls risk, however, there are no differences in the ability to avoid an unexpected obstacle between these groups.  Individuals with an inability to avoid an obstacle have lower scores on functional evaluations, exhibit limited sagittal plane joint range of motion during swing, and adopt a conservative walking strategy.  Machine learning processes can be used to predict knee range of motion and classify individuals at risk for tripping based on an ankle-worn accelerometer.  This work is significant because a wearable device that detects gait characteristics relevant to the risk of tripping may reduce the risk of falls for stroke patients.

Lauren Benson

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

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ISB Travel Grant: Fransiska Bossuyt

Posted on December 19, 2016

The International travel grant offered by the International Society of Biomechanics gave me the opportunity to go on a research stay of six weeks (From August till the middle of September 2016) at the Human Engineering Research Laboratories of the University of Pittsburgh under supervision of Dr. Michael Boninger.

The research stay allowed me access to expertise, state of the art research facilities and research environment. Working together with staff and students in an extremely stimulating research environment in the United States was a unique experience which I will take with me throughout my further life. During the research visit I discussed and refined the research strategy of my PhD project with Dr. Boninger. The project aims to investigate the effect of fatigue on shoulder mechanics during wheelchair propulsion. I also learned to perform and analyse quantitative ultrasound protocols (QUS) which will be used in the data collection of the projects of my PhD. Another important part of the visit was the preparation of a manuscript which investigates changes in propulsion kinetics during an overground figure 8 fatigue protocol. With this project I gained valuable insights into the fatigue protocol which will also be used in further projects of my PhD. Besides working on the research strategy and the manuscript I also had the opportunity to observe data collection of several projects, moreover of the ambitious project of doctoral student Nathan Hogaboom including QUS. His project investigates how a fatiguing wheelchair transfer and propulsion protocol affects shoulder pain and pathology in hand-rim wheelchair users with SCI. Finally, I gave a presentation to the staff and students of HERL and the Swiss Paraplegic Research, my activities during the research stay and the finalised research strategy. It was a great honour to present for the staff and students and to be able to discuss the project with them.

The research visit was highly beneficial for my research project, was crucial to foster collaborations between the Human Engineering Research Laboratories and the Swiss Paraplegic Research regarding future research projects, and will be an important factor later on in my research career. I am enormously grateful for this opportunity and wish to thank the International Society of Biomechanics and the University of Luzern for their financial support. Furthermore, I wish to thank The Swiss Paraplegic Research and Dr. Ursina Arnet who fully supported me and helped me realise the research visit. Finally, special thanks go to my promotor Dr. Michael Boninger who invited me to come to visit their laboratories and spent a lot of time and effort in guiding me during this visit.

Fransiska Bossuyt

Swiss Paraplegic Research

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ISB Travel Grant: Jayishni Maharaj

Posted on December 19, 2016

With the support of the ISB travel grant, I travelled from Brisbane, Australia to present at the American Society of Biomechanics conference (Raleigh, USA) and then visited the Human Mobility Research Centre at Queens University, Canada to learn an innovative new method to investigate foot biomechanics.

Understanding the biomechanical function of the foot is difficult due to its complex structure. Currently, traditional motion capture is commonly used to describe the motion of multiple segments of the foot (Leardini et al., 2007). However even this level of detail is an over simplification of the actual joint rotations that occur within the foot. These estimates also suffer from poor fidelity of skin movement to underlying bone motion. Recent developments in 3D X-ray motion analysis allows non-invasive investigation of skeletal motion during dynamic activities such as locomotion (Astley and Roberts, 2012). The Human Mobility Research Centre at Queens University is setting up a laboratory using these novel videoradiography techniques. With the help of Assoc. Prof Rainbow, I was able to analysis data collected using these imaging techniques to gain a better understanding of the movement of the calcaneus and talus in the foot.

The visit was highly beneficial. I gained a lot of valuable skills including including segmenting bones from CT scans, creating partial volumes and surface areas of the segmented bones and subsequently tracking bones in high speed x-ray scans taken during walking. During the visit I also learnt how to fit objects to the articular surface of bones to create accurate anatomical coordinate systems and consequently calculate precise rotations between segments. To achieve these tasks, with my clinical background required a lot of upskilling in basic mechanical and mathematical concepts, knowledge that I believe will be invaluable as I continue to understand the mechanics of the foot after completion of my dissertation.

During my stay I also attended and presented at the American Society of Biomechanics Conference. I presented a study from my PhD thesis for the first time in a thematic poster session, which involved a short oral presentation followed by 10 minutes of group discussions. It was great presenting in this session, my research created some great discussion between several well renowned researchers in our field. The discussion led me to explore areas in my analysis I had not previously considered.  During the conference I was mentored by A/Prof Greg Sawicki, who gave some great advice and encouraged me to be creative with research ideas. His suggestions and questions were thought provoking and invaluable.

I would like to thank the ISB for the travel grant and Assoc. Prof Rainbow and his lab for hosting and assisting me during my visit.

Jayishni Maharaj

University of Queensland

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ISB Travel Grant: Alessandra Bento Matias

Posted on December 19, 2016

My name is Alessandra Matias and I am a PhD candidate in the Laboratory of Biomechanics of Human Movement and Posture, University of Sao Paulo Medical School – Brazil, under supervisor of Dr. Isabel Sacco.

I would like to thank the International Society of Biomechanics (ISB) Council for awarding me the ISB Student Travel Grant to visit Dr. Alberto Leardini at the Rizzoli Intitute for 5 weeks.

My project aiming was the methods of measurement of Medial longitudinal Arch during the static and dynamic tasks and verification of correspondence among the measures. Dr. Leardini and his team (Paolo Caravaggi in especial) gave me the opportunity to discuss the work and helped me to understand important things in the foot model related to the Arch. This was a great opportunity to improve my knowledge about biomechanics of the foot and especially about the multisegmentar model that I use in my research in Brazil developed by Dr. Leardini. There I learned new ways of implementation of projects and methodologies of acquisition.

I also had the opportunity to attend the 24th Annual Meeting of the European Orthopaedic Research Society hosted by Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli. I had the chance to meet other researches and to discuss not only the research I was doing in Bologna but also topics about the career.

The team of Dr Leardini in Bologna is wonderful and I was very well welcomed into the Laboratory. I loved spending 5 weeks in Bologna and I could visit some museums, churches, and I tried a lot of Italian food and wines that were amazing.

One more time I would like to thank the ISB for the financial support that allowed me to have this unique experience.

Alessandra Bento Matias

PhD Candidate, Laboratory of Biomechanics of Human Movement and Posture, University of Sao Paulo Medical School, Brazil.

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ISB Travel Grant Report: JJ Hannigan

Posted on December 19, 2016

I am currently a doctoral candidate in the Motion Analysis Laboratory at the University of Oregon under the supervision of Dr. Li-Shan Chou.  This past summer I was able to attend to the XIV International Symposium on 3D Analysis of Human Movement in Taipei, Taiwan.  This travel was made possible largely due to the monetary contribution from the ISB Student Technical Group Travel Grant.

At the symposium, I had the opportunity to present my research on quantifying inter-segment coordination during running using a method called continuous relative phase.   My oral presentation, titled “Inter-Segment Coordination in Running: Is coordination variability different between sexes?”, focused on the ability of this technique to distinguish sex differences in coordination variability that cannot be seen using typical kinematic methods.  Presenting this research at the symposium gave me valuable feedback on my work that I am now incorporating into a manuscript.

The scientific and social programs at the symposium were both outstanding.  Because the focus of the symposium was on techniques and advances in quantifying 3D motion, presentations were more technically focused than at any biomechanics conference I had previously attended.  The technical aspects of the presentations could be applied to many different sub-fields within biomechanics, making it a very worthwhile conference for all attending.  The social highlight of the conference was undoubtedly the banquet, which included a 10-course meal, a live band, karaoke, and dancing.  Everyone in attendance had an amazing time!

I would like to thank the organizing committee, especially Dr. Tung-Wu Lu, for their extraordinary efforts in hosting the conference.  I would also like to thank the International Society of Biomechanics for their generous contribution, which greatly offset the cost of international travel.  I look forward to attending future 3DAHM symposiums and ISB-sponsored conferences as I continue my research.

JJ Hannigan

Motion Analysis Laboratory, University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon, USA

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ISB Travel Grant: Study in Cape Town

Posted on June 17, 2016

With support from the International Society of Biomechanics International Travel Grant, I spent 5 months at the Blast Impact and Survivability Research Unit (BISRU) at The University of Cape Town (UCT) in Cape Town, South Africa.  This opportunity provided me with both a global research experience and growth on a personal and scientific level.

My research at BISRU was experimentally focused; exactly what I had been hoping for as much of my research had been computationally based.  I designed an experiment for the penetration of skin in radial tension by means of knife wound.  From this quasi-static experiment, I obtained force-displacement data as well as used digital image correlation to obtain stress maps of the tested sample.  Through development of the project hypothesis, design of the experimental set-up and fixtures, collaboration with the Mechanical Workshop to build the fixtures, and execution of the tests, I gained experience in many aspects of the design process.  The data obtained and material properties learned from this experiment will be applied to the design of dynamic skin penetration testing and further the understanding of the biomechanics of knife wounds – the leading cause of homicide in many countries.

I am thankful for the support of my supervisors at BISRU, Professor Gerald Nurick and Dr. Reuben Govender as well as all of the help from the graduate students.  By attending weekly presentations by the graduate students, I also learned about the other projects that are currently being undertaken in the lab.  While there is a range of research happening, survivability remains the underlying goal of BISRU and continues to drive the lab with human protection in mind.

My experiences outside of the laboratory were as equally impactful during my trip.  I joined the UCT Gymnastics club and SHAWCO, the Students' Health and Welfare Centres Organisation, where once a week I joined in traveling to disadvantaged communities to tutor middle school students in mathematics.  I found the best part of Cape Town to be its diversity.  I was able to get to know people from all around the world and with the mountains, ocean, and colorful city, I was always learning and exploring through new adventures outside of the research lab.  I believe one of the most important things I learned was how to work with and appreciate the unique abilities and traits of different people.  This experience opened the door for global collaboration and I encourage other students to take advantage of any opportunity to perform research abroad.

I would like to thank the International Society of Biomechanics for the opportunities they provide students through programs such as the International Travel Grant.  Without it this grant, I would not have had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that has further strengthened my passion of biomechanics and helped me become both a better researcher and a better person.


Melissa Boswell, University of Akron.

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