University of Wisconsin–Madison


Graduate Advisor: Kreg G. Gruben, PhD; David R. Bell, PhD

Synopsis: Biomechanics is the application of mechanics to biological systems. Within the broad field of biomechanics, specific areas of study at UW-Madison include: tissue mechanics, human performance, rehabilitation, and limb dynamics. The program equips students to apply the tools of engineering analysis to biological systems from the cellular to the whole body level, with career objectives in academia, health care, and sports science.  Elective course work within the program allows students to pursue individual interests such as physiological adaptations to mechanical stimuli, or computer modeling. Students generally have the opportunity to teach during their training.

Purpose of MS: The MS degree is designed to provide the necessary foundation for participation in biomechanical research. Course work in biomechanics, statistics, research methods, and motor control form the basis of the formal training, with students also expected to complete a research project summarized in a thesis. Graduates of the program generally pursue further graduate training toward a Ph.D. or careers in industrial or biomedical research.

Purpose of Ph.D.: The Ph.D. degree is designed to prepare students for independent research and teaching. Formal training includes course work in some of the following areas: math, statistics, physiology, mechanics, biomechanics, and motor control. The wide range of biology and mechanics courses offered at the UW-Madison allows the student to tailor a curriculum which fits their individual interests. Students conduct independent research throughout their training which will be summarized in their dissertation. Presentations are also expected to be made at national scientific meetings and in peer-reviewed journals. Graduates generally pursue post-doctoral training and go on to establish independent research programs in an academic or industrial setting.

Laboratory Facilities and Experimental Approaches: Faculty and students in biomechanics employ a variety of approaches directed toward two primary areas of interest: mechanical behavior of normal and healing connective tissues, and intersegmental kinetics during constrained motions. Secondary interests include mechanical assessment of persons with neurological diagnoses, with a goal of evaluating the efficacy of clinical interventions.

The biomechanics laboratories include: a high speed video camera, 200 Hz video recorder, a two dimensional motion analysis system, Kistler and AMTI force plates, Optotrak three dimensional motion analysis system, EMG amplifiers, and a unique system for the evaluation of cycling biomechanics. The primary laboratory (>450 m2) houses equipment for assessing human movement and the secondary laboratory is used for dissection and preparation of tissues.

Prerequisites for admission to Biomechanics track, MS and PhD

Course Requirements for MS or PhD in Biomechanics