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PhD opportunity for research on the mechanisms of falls in mountain biking

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  • PhD opportunity for research on the mechanisms of falls in mountain biking

    An immediate opportunity is available for PhD studies in the Injury Prevention and Mobility Lab (IPML) at Simon Fraser University examining the biomechanics of falls in mountain biking.


    The IPML is located in the Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology (BPK) on the Burnaby Mountain campus of Simon Fraser University (SFU). SFU is consistently rated as Canada’s top comprehensive university. Burnaby is a neighbouring city to Vancouver, BC. The IPML has a successful history of innovation, knowledge generation and community engagement in research on the cause and prevention of injuries. Ongoing projects are examining falls in older adults, and the dynamics of head impacts in ice hockey. See for further information.

    Project description

    Funded by an NSERC Discovery Grant, we are studying mountain biking (MTB) as an experimental model of human decision making, postural control, and protective responses for avoiding falls and injuries when negotiating risky environments.

    PhD projects will address one or more of the following:

    (1) Risk factors for falls and injuries. This project involves a longitudinal cohort study to examine how factors such as sex, gender and age associate with riding behaviours and falls and injuries in MTB. The study will also examine the mental and physical health benefits of MTB.

    (2) Protective responses during falls in MTB. This project involves analyzing publicly available video footage of falls in MTB, to determine how riders respond to falls with protective responses for avoiding injury.

    (3) Decision-making in MTB. This project involves experiments to determine how decision making in riding customized features in MTB (eg, ramps of varying width and height) depends on factors such as riding ability and fear of falling.

    (4) Visual control in MTB. Using wearable sensors and eye tracking, this project examines how vision is used in path selection and speed modulation in MTB.

    Eligibility criteria

    Criteria of interest to the position include the following:

    • undergraduate and Masters degrees in kinesiology or biomedical engineering;

    • passion and skills in applying the tools of biomechanics and motor control for improving our understanding of human performance and injury prevention;

    • experience in conducting and/or analyzing data from experiments with human participants involving motion capture through video and wearable sensors;

    • interest and experience in combining observational field measures with laboratory experiments;

    • a strong interest and aptitude for community-oriented research;

    • knowledge and experience in mountain biking is valuable but not essential.

    Interested people should apply even if they don’t meet all of the above criteria. In particular, consideration will be given to applicants who demonstrate a passion and aptitude for experiments with human participants, but limited experience due to the restrictions imposed by COVID.

    We encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds, including but not limited to, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, age, and/or status as Black, Indigenous, or a Person of Colour (BIPOC). All applicants will be given full consideration.


    Graduate students in BPK can expect a minimal annual stipend of $20,000 through research and teaching assistantships ( Opportunities for additional support may be possible through scholarships.

    How to apply

    Application packages should be sent as a single PDF including the following four items:

    1) a letter of interest,
    (2) a current CV,
    (3) transcripts; and
    (4) a list of three academic references.

    In your letter of interest, please summarize how you meet the eligibility criteria, and describe why this project is of interest to you.

    Direct any enquiries and send your application via email to:

    Steve Robinovitch, Ph.D.
    Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology
    Simon Fraser University

    **Please write in the subject line: "Re: PhD opportunity for research on the mechanisms of falls in mountain biking"
    Last edited by Stephen Robinovitch; November 6, 2022, 09:31 PM.