PhD Programs Summary
I wish to thank everyone for their contributions on my search for a PhD
program in Biomechanics with emphasis of impact trauma. Below is a summary of
the responses I received.
>I am searching for a PhD program that specializes in automotive occupant
>kinematics and biomechanics. I appreciate any and all responses
I was just browsing the list serv and saw your message. You may want to
check out the University of Virginia Auto Safety Lab, go to
contact the University of Michigan Biomedical Engineering Department
or Industrial Operations and Engineering dept.
I would recommend that you investigate an engineering major at one of
three universities in Michigan--Michigan State University, University of
Michigan and Wayne State University. These programs have close ties to the
Big Three and there are active labs at each of these Universities with
research ranging from seating to powertrain. I believe you will find many
Try the University of Michigan. They have a center called the University of M
ichigan Transportation Research Institue (UMTRI) which does occupant safety re
search. That's a great place for dissertation work in this area. Also, the Oh
io Satte University has a PHD program where there are possibilites of disserta
tion work in occupant safety at NHTSA's Vehcile Research and Test Center (VRTC
) located about 45 minutes from OSU. I work there and have seen numerous PHD
students do dissertations in occupant biomechanics/safety. Contact Denny Guen
ther or Dick Stalnaker at OSU for details on possibilities of PHD work in occu
I am a professor and the chairman of the department of mechanical
engineering at UC-Davis and part of the graduate program in biomedical
I work at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and am familiar w
ith the schools that specialize in automotive safety. These schools are as fo
Wayne State University
University of Michigan
University of Virginia
Medical College of Wisconsin
University of Alabama (not sure about this one)
There may be other schools that have programs in automotive safety, but these
are the most prominent ones. I hope this information helps.
You will probably receive several messages suggesting the same places
.. but here goes in no particular order:
Wayne State University - Detroit, MI (Albert King, Ph.D.
Duke University - Durham, NC (Barry Myers, MD, Ph.D.
firstname.lastname@example.org; also Jim McElhaney, Ph.D.)
Chalmers Univesity of Technology - Goteborg, Sweden (Per Lovsund, Ph.D.
University of Virginia (call for info on their Auto Safety Lab)
University of Michigan (call for info on the Transportation Research
here at the university of michigan transportation research institute, we
have a biosciences division that studies automotive biomechanics. in that
department, there is a person who just finished up his phd with a
dissertation dealing with automotive biomechanics. you may want to contact
him about the phd program here at the university of michigan. i don't have
his email address, but you can find it at the umtri web site:
I believe Wayne State University in Michigan has a pretty good program
in automotive biomechanics/ergonomics. I know WSU works very closely
with the big 3 automakers and there is also a professor there who is
known for his ergonomic research. You might want to check it out!
University of Virginia is very active in this
area. University of Pittsburgh does a lot of
work with respect to passengers in wheelchairs.
I would also take a look at the University of
You might want to take a look at the Mechanical Engineering department
at the University of Virginia. Within the ME dept, they have an Auto
Safety Lab that does the kind of research you mentioned. The Research
Director's name is Jeff Crandall, Ph.D.
here 3 research groups with associated Ph.D. programs specializes in
automotive occupant kinematics and trauma biomechanics:
1. Bioengineering Center at Wayne State Univ.
2. Automobile Safety Lab at U. of Virginia
3. Neuroscience & Biomechanics Research at Medical COllege of Wisconsin
and Marquette University.
You may want to contact Dr. Albert King at Wayne State University in Detroit.
I am not aware of the complete scope of Dr. Kings work but as a grad student I
attended the Injury Prevention Through Biomechanics Symposium that is hosted
by Wayne State University every Spring. During that conference I had the
opportunity to visit their facilities and witness a full size sled test. To
give you some idea of the type of work Dr. King was involved with here are
several titles of the papers presented by him or one of his colleagues at the
Criteria For Pelvic Injury in Side Impact Cadaveric Tests
Brain Injury in Direct Impact
Average Spine Acceleration: A New Injury Measure in the Federally Mandated SID
Side Impact Dummy
Automotive Side Impact Protection - Finite Element Approach
Hope this kind of information helps. If you get a chance please post a
summary of your responses on the list server.
I saw your posting on BIOMCH-L about graduate programs. I'm
currently wrapping up a Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in
mechanical engineering with a biomechanics specialty. My
experience here has been excellent and I would highly recommend
that you look into the programs here.
My advisors, Dr. Walter Pilkey, and Dr. Jeff Crandall, are
leaders in the field of automobile crash safety. We have
several grants from the goverment (NHTSA) and from companies
(Ford, Honda, TRW, and more) and tons of projects for grad
students. The Automobile Safety Lab has plenty of computers
and test equipment and a very competent staff to help with
My dissertation has been to characterize the mechanical
properties of the human leg during an automobile crash. To do
this, I characterized the calf muscles (triceps surae) and
ankle ligaments with cadaveric specimens, and performed some
simulated footwell intrusion experiments on actual legs. Then
I compiled my findings and used them to create a multibody
dynamic computer model of the human leg for car crash
My project is just an example of the types of projects here.
We develop and test occupant restraint systems, crash
dummies, instrumentation systems, air bag systems, and more.
We also have a great computer facility, if you're interested in
Charlottesville, VA is also a great place to live. There are
lots of cultural events and sporting events. We are also right
next to the Blue Ridge Mountains which I use for skiing,
cycling, and hiking.
Well, I guess that's enough rambling. The ASL web site is
Please feel free to email me if you have any questions. We are
always looking for good students.
Check out WPI! I just started here this past fall and am involved
in a number of research directions relating to tissues, orthopedics, and
If you are interested in grad school at WPI, please send me your
address and a statement of interests/goals and I'll forward our application
Sean S. Kohles, PhD
Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Try Wayne State University in Detroit- almost all of the automotive
biomechanics is done there, due to the support of the automotive
industry. There are also programs at Michigan State University and
University of Michigan that are RELATED to automotive biomechanics, and
depending on what your specific interests are, one of those programs may
be right for you. Drs. Hubbard and Haut are the two at Michigan State
that do automotive things, Dr. King at Wayne State heads up the
automotive biomechanics area (although there are many more at Wayne
State) and I'm sure you could get information from the websites.
Check out Al King at Wayne State University.
Wayne State University has a newly approved program. It use to be joint with
Mechanical Enigineering so they have a pretty strong track record. Look at
their web page: ttb.eng.wayne.edu
You may wish to contact Dr Jeff Crandall at the Auto-Safety Laboratory,
University of Virginia. His e-mail is email@example.com
Dr. Don Chaffin at The University of Michigan was (and may still be)
working on both these topics.
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