UNO to advance biomechanics research with boost from record grant

Published: Sep. 16, 2019 at 6:42 AM CDT
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UNO is about to help us make some big strides on the path to the future. Researchers will be blazing the trail with the help of a $10.3 million grant – the largest single research grant in the institution’s history.

The money will bankroll an expansion of the research that’s already in progress in the Department of Biomechanics and the new cash stack sits atop a similar, slightly smaller, pillar of funding granted in 2014. That earlier cash infusion provided the foundation for the Center of Research in Human Variability. The fresh monies will fund three new research cores in the Biomechanics Research building.

All of this translates into research to develop the kinds of tools that change people’s lives. They’re doing things like creating prosthetics for children and unlocking the secrets of how to prevent slips and falls. The list goes on and the new grant will help expand the program.

Nick Stergiou is the Director of the Biomechanics Research Building and he tells 6 News, "We keep growing Biomechanics which is our niche right here in Nebraska, in terms of science, and in my opinion the sky is the limit. We are just starting."

Of the three new research cores on the near horizon, one will focus on movement and another will be focused on nonlinear analysis, meaning data and education. The third will embrace design and prototyping of tools that can help people.

This research is leading the nation in many respects. One of the key enterprises involves development of prosthetics for children missing upper limbs. What makes it so different is that they use a 3D printing machine to create their own designs. By using the 3D printer they are able to make the prosthetics much more affordable and part of the new grant will help fuel the engines of that work.

Graduate student Claudia Cortes-Reyes said, “We're going to be able to build more arms and hopefully be able to create better designs based off of that additional funding and being able to get more patients and be able to adjust to their needs as well."

We spoke with some of the students working on these prosthetics and they said that one of the things they will now be able to research is how these prosthetics impact a child's brain and their ability to use the devices.

All of this work will benefit from new muscle that will be added to the program in the form of additional researchers funded by the fresh grant money.