Cal Poly’s Human Motion Biomechanics Program Gets Boost from Keck Foundation - Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly’s Human Motion Biomechanics Program Gets Boost from Keck Foundation

A $350,000 grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation will promote the integration of research and education in Cal Poly’s growing interdisciplinary program in human motion biomechanics.

Cal Poly’s Human Motion Biomechanics (HMB) Lab, established in 2014, has enabled applied research in the field. Keck’s support will boost the clinical and educational goals of the HMB program by providing additional funds for student projects and curriculum development. 

“The Keck grant will provide opportunities for teams of students in the Biomedical Engineering, Kinesiology and Mechanical Engineering departments to undertake targeted biomechanics research,” said Professor and HMB Lab Director Stephen Klisch. “We will also develop an interdisciplinary undergraduate course in biomechanics, along with inquiry-based, hands-on learning modules in several existing courses.” 

In addition to Klisch, HMB campus partners include Scott Hazelwood (Biomedical Engineering), Brian Self (Mechanical Engineering), Robert Clark (Kinesiology) and Kevin Taylor (Education). 

An example of student-led research taking place in the HMB Lab is a project to determine knee loads for normal weight and obese subjects during walking, cycling and elliptical training. Keck funds will further the research of students who are working on ways to reduce the risk for knee arthritis in overweight individuals by identifying weight-loss exercises that produce low knee loads and reduce long-term wear. The team included mechanical engineering students Juan David Gutierrez-Franco, Sam Tucker, Daniel Montoya and Luke Kraemer; biomedical engineering students Jim Darke, Katherine Mavrommati and Megan Pottinger; and kinesiology students Grace Privett, Eshan Dandekar and Isaac Gomez.

According to Klisch, the Keck award provides a solid foundation for the HMB program moving forward, including the purchase of key equipment and funding for approximately 14 students each year to work on research projects aimed at encouraging weight loss and exercise while preventing or slowing the progression of knee arthritis.

“The grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation positions Cal Poly to become a leader in engaging large, interdisciplinary undergraduate student teams to conduct motion analysis experiments with clear clinical outcomes,” said Klisch.

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Reflective markers measure HMB student Alejandro Gonzalez-Smith’s gait for the knee load research project.