Ph.D. candidate, Jennifer A. Nichols of Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, will present her seminar entitled,

“Using surgical simulation to understand the biomechanical design of the musculoskeletal system”

Tuesday, April 22
11:00 A.M.
Warnock Engineering Building (WEB) 2250

Orthopaedic surgeons often offer patients compromises: a joint can be replaced, pain can be alleviated, but the required surgery results in unintended, functional impairments. These functional impairments can permanently change how individuals interact with their environment by limiting an individual’s ability to perform activities of daily living, such as picking up a saucepan or using a cell phone. Function cannot be restored because the biomechanical factors contributing to impairment are not fully understood. My research aims to identify the biomechanical factors that are essential for function and design optimal clinical interventions to augment, maintain, or restore function.

In this talk, I will present a research framework that integrates musculoskeletal models, computer simulations, and experimental techniques. I will demonstrate how I used this framework to examine the biomechanical design of nonimpaired and surgically altered wrists. In particular, I will highlight how studying the surgically altered wrist led to novel insights regarding the functional relationship between the wrist and hand. I will also briefly describe my plans to expand this framework to study other surgeries, injuries, and diseases

Jennifer A. Nichols received a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University, Medford, MA in 2008 and an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Northwestern University, Evanston, IL in 2011. She is currently finishing her PhD in Biomedical Engineering and an MA in Medical Humanities and Bioethics at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL. She is interested in developing predictive biomechanical models of the human musculoskeletal system to optimize surgical procedures and rehabilitation strategies.

Ms. Nichols received a Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Services Award (NRSA) Individual Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2010 and the Sarah Baskin Award for Excellence in Research from the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in 2012. She is completing the Teaching Certificate Program at Northwestern University’s Searle Center for Advancing Learning and Teaching. She is also active in outreach, having served for two years as a mentor for Science Club, an NIH-funded program to provide science education to economically disadvantaged middle school students. She is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Biomechanics, the International Society of Biomechanics, and the Society of Women Engineers.