Biomechanics focuses on the application of engineering principles to the musculoskeletal system and other connective tissues. Research in this area addresses rehabilitation engineering, computer-assisted surgery and medical robotics, patient-specific biomechanical modeling, intelligent prosthetics and implants, and bioinstrumentation.

Research Faculty 

Anthony Petrella

Research Group:  Computational Biomechanics Group

  • Computational biomechanics
  • Experimental study of the musculoskeletal system, specifically spine, hip and knee mechanics
  • Application of advanced nonlinear finite element analysis methods along with subject-specific anatomy and statistical techniques to simulate spinal function
  • Director: FEA Pro Interdisciplinary Graduate Program
Katie Knaus

Katie Knaus

Research Group: MyoEngineering Lab​

  • Multiscale mechanical interactions of muscle and tendon
  • Finite element modeling of 3D muscle and connective tissue structures
  • Relationships between mobility performance and musculoskeletal properties that vary with age, sex, exercise, and injury

Anne Silverman

Research Group:
 Functional Biomechanics Laboratory

  • Muscular compensations resulting from the use of prosthetic and assistive devices
  • Balance regulation during dynamic tasks
  • Musculoskeletal modeling analyses to predict optimal treatment interventions
  • Therapy and treatment effects on movement performance in children with cerebral palsy
  • Relationships between whole-body movement and the development of long-term secondary conditions

Labs and Capabilities

Computational Biomechanics

The Computational Biomechanics Group (CBG) applies biomechanical simulation to improve the quality of life for patients who suffer from musculoskeletal conditions. Areas of emphasis include spine, knee, and hip mechanics in both amputee and non-amputee populations. CBG research aims to improve the ability to predict musculoskeletal function in meaningful activities of daily living for both (1) individual patients (subject-specific) and (2) realistic patient populations (probabilistic modeling).

CBG researchers employ a broad range of parametric modeling techniques and statistical methods to better quantify the normal variations in anatomical shape, tissue properties, and surgical parameters that affect clinical results. The goal is to improve long-term outcomes and decrease the incidence of revision surgery following orthopaedic procedures.

Contact: Dr. Anthony Petrella (

Functional Biomechanics Laboratory

Researchers in the Functional Biomechanics Lab investigate whole-body biomechanics with experimental and computational approaches. We use gait analysis techniques including motion capture, ground reaction force measurement and electromyography to quantify walking mechanics. We combine these efforts with detailed musculoskeletal models to generate movement simulations. Through these methods, we can determine the biomechanical effects of physical therapy, surgical and device interventions and optimize interventions for individual patients.

  • 7-camera Qualisys Oqus 300+ Motion Capture System, 1.3MP, 500Hz frame rate at full resolution
  • 4 AMTI OR6-7 Force Plates
  • 16-channel Delsys Trigno wireless surface electromyography system including tri-axial accelerometers and two foot switch sensors

Contact: Dr. Anne Silverman (


Researchers in the MyoEngineering Lab use engineering principles to explain fundamental biomechanics of multiscale muscle design needed to solve problems that will improve human mobility, health, and performance. We apply our mechanical engineering expertise to myology, the study of muscle structure-function. We create detailed computer simulations of complex muscle structures, which we inform and test with innovative experimental measurements of human biomechanics and physiology. We aim to understand muscle design at different scales, from muscle-tendon unit design that determines muscle function as complex biological machines to muscle and connective tissue design that determines muscle function as dynamic material. Our goal is to discover how differences in muscle design related to exercise, injury, sex, and age influences mobility performance.

Contact: Dr. Katie Knaus

Website: MyoEngineering Lab


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