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Graduate Program in Biomechanics and Motor Control at Penn State

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  • Graduate Program in Biomechanics and Motor Control at Penn State

    Graduate study in biomechanics and motor control
    at The Pennsylvania State University
    The Biomechanics Laboratory at Penn State University is seeking a highly motivated Ph.D. student interested in hand and finger biomechanics and motor control of hand function. The research is conducted together with the Motor Control lab and is performed under the guidance of Prof. V. M. Zatsiorsky (biomechanics) and Prof. M.L. Latash (motor control). The applications are for the Fall semester of 2005.


    The current research program is aimed at understanding of the hand biomechanics and finger coordination/control in prehension tasks involving several digits, force sharing among fingers as a model of the redundancy problem, biomechanics and control of manipulation in elderly and in patients with central and peripheral motor disorders, e.g. in carpal tunnel patients. A continuing focus for many of the research projects will be analyzing the biomechanical aspects of motor control problems especially manipulation of the hand-held objects. This direction of research combines biomechanics, motor control, robotics and clinical disciplines. The Laboratory has unique equipment to perform this research.

    The Laboratory is highly productive with a total number of publications a year exceeding 15 papers in peer reviewed journals. The research projects have been funded mostly by the grants from the National Institutes of Health.


    This unique and rigorous program includes advanced coursework in biomechanics and neighboring fields of science, weekly colloquia and seminars, apprenticeship in the biomechanics laboratory and instructional mentoring. Students develop a coherent area of expertise by designing an academic program that includes introductory and advanced graduate courses in classes such as Experimental Methods in Biomechanics and Motor Control, Advanced Biomechanics of Human Movement, Modeling in Biomechanics, Sports Biomechanics, Locomotion Studies, Musculoskeletal Mechanics, Forensic Biomechanics, Motor Control, Motor Learning, Neurophysiological Basis of Movement, Psychophysiology of Movement, Movement Disorders, Skeletal Physiology, Advanced Exercise Physiology, Engineering of Human Work, and others. In addition to the courses offered by the Department of Kinesiology, students take classes in other areas, such as Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics, and Psychology. Additional advanced courses, including research seminars, are also offered.


    Applications for admission and financial aid should be received by

    the Graduate School Admissions Office no later than December 20, 2004. The available assistantships are $13,905 for a ten-month period and include a tuition remission. In addition, students who do their research during summer periods are financially supported during this period of time.

    For admission of a student into the Program, the main considerations are: (a) the course background of the student (science courses, including Physics, Mechanics, Mathematics, Computer Science, Anatomy, Physiology, etc.); (b) the student's mathematics ("quantitative") GRE score, which should be at least in the high 600's, and preferably in the 700's (the verbal and analytical GRE scores are less important, although the University requires combined scores in two of the three measures (verbal, quantitative, analytical) above 1000; and (c) the student's record of interest and

    academic performance in the biomechanics of human movement.

    Some background in the biological sciences is desirable for this curriculum; a good aptitude for math/mechanics is crucial. Experience with LabView and MatLab, as well as experience in biomechanical and neurophysiological measurements (e.g motion analysis, EMG) and background in the control of human motion would be advantageous. Outstanding students from the biological and engineering sciences are encouraged to apply.

    Fluent English is required. All applicants whose primary language is not English and who graduated from a university where the language of instruction and examination was not English must demonstrate facility in the English language.

    For more information about the program, please visit our lab homepage at the address "".

    Candidates should send a letter of interest to: Prof. Vladimir M. Zatsiorsky, Director, Biomechanics Laboratory, 39 Recreation Hall, University Park, PA

    16802, Phone: (814) 865-3445, Fax: (814) 865-2440, E-mail:

    If you are seriously considering Graduate Work at Penn State, please request Department and University information from:

    Dori Sunday
    Dept of Kinesiology
    The Pennsylvania State University
    275 Recreation Bldg
    University Park, PA 16802
    phone: 814-863-0847

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