Skip to main content

Congratulations, Mandy Munsch!

May 9, 2023

We are very proud to congratulate Amanda Munsch for successfully defending her PhD dissertation, titled “Optimizing Knee Joint Loading: Association Between Quadriceps Contractile Behavior, Knee Joint Biomechanics, and Cartilage Contact Forces”. Outstanding job! We also thank the wonderful support of his committee members, Drs. Brian Pietrosimone (UNC EXSS), Mike Lewek (UNC PT), Brian Diekman (UNC/NSCU BME), and Josh Roth (UW-Madison ME). We will miss you, Mandy!!

Congratulations, Ricky Pimentel!

May 9, 2023

Picture of Ricky receiving an awardRicky Pimentel, Doctoral Candidate in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at UNC-Chapel Hill and NC State University, was recognized with the graduate student Bryan Award for outstanding community engagement and contributions through his work at the ReCyclery, and his leadership in cofounding Latinx in Biomechanix.

ReCyclery aims to increase the use of bicycles for transportation and recreation. Pimentel instructs community members, especially those with limited budgets, on the repair and refurbishment of bicycles, and he has raised more than $20,000 since the height of the pandemic for ReCyclery to continue its mission.

Latinx in Biomechanix (LiB) increases the representation of Latinx individuals in the collective fields of biomechanics and movement science. Pimentel has organized numerous virtual and in-person social and networking events with international reach, written a successful grant to build capacity for LiB, organized a leadership retreat and established federal non-profit status for the organization.

Through both of these activities, Ricky has successfully established strong partnerships with community members, inspired others in their mission to serve, responded to urgent and significant needs and worked to ensure the sustainability of his significant service activities to our local, regional and global communities

Congratulations, Andrew Shelton!

May 9, 2023

Andy Shelton, a third-year BME Ph.D. candidate, has received a National Research Service Award (NIH F31) from the National Institute of Aging. The award will fund his project titled “The Effects of Muscle Fatigability on Gait Instability in Aging and Age-Related Falls Risk.” The research will evaluate how local muscle fatigability compromises the neuromuscular control of walking balance and precipitates gait instability in direction-dependent and context-specific ways in older adults. Andy will be sponsored on the project by Dr. Jason Franz, Associate Professor in BME, and a mentoring committee that spans Engineering, Physical Therapy, Neurology and Biostatistics. Anticipated outcomes from his research in the BME Applied Biomechanics Lab will have the potential to inform novel advances in diagnostics, rehabilitation, mobile monitoring and wearable assistive technologies to mitigate falls.

Congratulations, Aubrey Gray!

May 9, 2023

Third-year BME PhD student Aubrey Gray has received one of only four highly competitive 2023 Grant-in-Aid Research awards from the American Society of Biomechanics. The award will provide support for her research project titled “Foot stiffness as a potentially modifiable factor to improve resilience to walking balance challenges in older adults” which she will complete in the Applied Biomechanics Laboratory directed by BME Associate Professor Dr. Jason Franz. The American Society of Biomechanics (ASB) was founded in 1977 to encourage and foster the exchange of information and ideas among biomechanists working in different disciplines and to facilitate the development of biomechanics as a basic and applied science. The society has a membership of approximately 850 academic researchers, clinicians, scientists, students, and industry members working to solve basic and applied problems in the realm of biomechanics and to improve understanding of the workings of biological systems.

Congratulations, Aubrey!!

New Industry-Sponsored Research Collaboration with Orthofeet, Inc.

January 18, 2023

The Applied Biomechanics Lab is excited to announce our new industry-sponsored research collaboration with Orthofeet, Inc. to study the effects of footwear on walking biomechanics in older and orthopaedic consumers. Orthofeet’s orthotic shoes are biomechanically engineered with unique comfort features to offer the footwear solutions for sensitive feet and other physical ailments affected by foot problems or poor posture. We are thrilled to develop this collaboration with Orthofeet, a company whose mission aligns with our own – to relieve pain and increase independence in the lives of older adults.


Awarded UNC School of Medicine Research Infrastructure Equipment Allocation

January 18, 2023

We are thrilled to have received a UNC School of Medicine Research Infrastructure Equipment Allocation to purchase two sizes of Biomotum SPARK dual-mode ankle exoskeletons. This partnership will support new research collaborations and allow us to expand our line of research in the areas of wearable robotic exoskeletons to enhance independent mobility in older adults.


$2.7M NIH Grant to Enhance Foot and Ankle Function in Older Adults

September 17, 2022

The Applied Biomechanics Lab received a 5-year, $2.7M R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health titled “A framework for feasible translation to enhance foot and ankle function in aging and mobility A framework for feasible translation to enhance foot and ankle function in aging and mobility”. The project is an inter-disciplinary effort alongside Co-PI Dr. Kota Takahashi, an Assistant Professor of Health & Kinesiology at the University of Utah, Clinical Co-Investigator Dr. Howard Kashefsky, UNC Associate Professor of Surgery and Director of Podiatric Services, and Co-Investigator Dr. Todd Schwartz, UNC Professor of Biostatistics.

Together, the researchers will investigate the scientific premise that age-related reductions in walking performance and economy (i.e., “gas mileage”) have been mistakenly attributed solely to muscles spanning the ankle, and instead originate interdependently with unfavorable changes in the active, passive, and structural regulation of foot stiffness and power. Accordingly, the translational purpose of the work is to test the efficacy of shoe stiffness modifications to augment foot structure and function in aging and thereby improve gait performance and reduce metabolic energy cost during walking in older adults. Ultimately, the project addresses the need for new and modifiable targets to enhance mobility and independence – paving the way for feasible and cost-effective assistive devices for millions in our aging population.

Major Research Instrumentation Grant from NSF

September 17, 2022

The Applied Biomechanics Lab, along with an investigative team spanning principal investigators in the UNC College of Arts & Sciences, UNC School of Medicine, and NC State College of Engineering has received a $772k National Science Foundation Grant to revolutionize our region’s scientific and technological infrastructure for the quantitative measurement of human movement. With additional financial support from the Dean’s offices in the College of Arts & Sciences and the School of Medicine, the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Exercise and Sport Science, and the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research, the grant will support not only the acquisition of a state-of-the-art high-speed biplane fluoroscopy system, but also technical support staffing, creation of a Collaborative Fluoroscopy Research Core, support for instructional innovation in the classroom, and development of new community outreach programs.

This was a plan that started in concept nearly three years ago and was a true team effort, especially the Principal Investigative team: Dr. Jason Franz (UNC/NC State BME), Dr. Brian Pietrosimone (UNC EXSS), Dr. Troy Blackburn (UNC EXSS), Dr. Kate Saul (NC State MAE), and Dr. Helen Huang (UNC/NC State BME). The proposal also received enthusiastic support from a broader network of scientists and engineers spanning UNC Greensboro, High Point University, NC A&T, and Elon University. This acquisition is the first such instrument available to any of the students, faculty, and fellows at the 17 public UNC system campuses, and its availability has the potential to catalyze lasting new disciplinary, collaborative, and interdisciplinary research and educational impact across our region.

High-speed biplane fluoroscopy systems provide continuous multi-dimensional cine x-ray images at up to 1000 samples/s for the purpose of directly quantifying three-dimensional bone positions, orientations, and articulating surface mechanics that are impossible to capture with even the most sophisticated of comparable technologies (e.g., MRI). The highly competitive award will allow a broad network for researchers, as well as the diverse student bodies they serve, to measure with unparalleled resolution the precise complexities of bone motion critical to overcoming the pivotal scientific and technological challenges across many disciplines, including: (1) understanding how musculoskeletal mechanics and function are achieved and maintained over the mammalian lifespan, (2) developing mechanistic links between movement biomechanics and underlying biology, (3) identifying technological opportunities for surgical innovation, (4) advancing ergonomics and occupational science toward for a strong and vibrant workforce, (5) developing more sophisticated bioengineered materials and tissues, and (6) introducing the next generation of rehabilitation robotics.

Paper Accepted (September 2022)

September 7, 2022

Walking Speed Does Not Affect Net Vastus Lateralis Fascicle Length Change on Average During Weight Acceptance

Amanda E. Munsch, Brian Pietrosimone, Jason R. Franz


Journal of Biomechanics | by ElsevierFaster walking speeds increase the demand on quadriceps muscles to produce adequate force to decelerate body mass and control knee flexion. Quadriceps fascicle behavior (i.e., fascicle lengthen changes influences force generation, which in turn affects mechanical loading of the articular cartilage during walking and the biochemical environment of the knee joint. The fascicle behavior underlying different walking speeds remains unclear but should be characterized to better understand how the quadriceps muscles accommodate faster walking speeds, speeds that often associate with better cartilage health outcomes. Our purpose was to quantify quadriceps muscle net fascicle behavior during weight acceptance across a range of walking speeds in the context of more well-documented changes in muscle activity and knee joint moments. We hypothesized that vastus lateralis (VL) fascicles in healthy young adults would produce force with more overall lengthening in early stance at faster walking speeds with concomitant increases in muscle-tendon unit (MTU) lengthening, internal peak knee extensor moment (pKEM), vertical ground reaction force (GRF), and muscle activity. Participants walked for two-minute trials at their preferred speed and at 0.75 m/s and 1.75 m/s. We find that on average the VL accommodates the greater mechanical demands of walking at faster speeds with greater muscle activity and while resisting muscle lengthening behavior. We infer that tendon stretch accommodates MTU lengthening in healthy young adults across a range of speeds and suggest these results motivate additional studies aimed at evaluating VL fascicle behavior individuals with known quadriceps strength deficits, inhibition, or heightened risk for developing osteoarthritis.

NACOB 2022

August 28, 2022

The Applied Biomechanics Lab had a fantastic visit to the North American Congress on Biomechanics in Ottawa, Ontario. Our group had the pleasure of sharing our work, connecting with our colleagues, and engaging in great scientific discussions. We also got to explore the city of Ottawa and learn about its rich history.