Brown hosts major national biomechanics meeting

August 13, 2010 - via Brown University

About 600 scientists from the American Society of Biomechanics will be in Providence Aug. 18–21, 2010, for a national conference. With equal representation of engineers and life scientists, the ASB will consider everything from free-ranging robotic fish and birds to prostheses and robotic “exoskeletons.”

Some 600 scientists who specialize in animal and human movement will pour into Providence to discuss the latest in the field of biomechanics.

Brown University is hosting this year’s gathering of the American Society of Biomechanics, which runs from Aug. 18 to 21, Wednesday through Saturday, at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The 34th annual meeting includes 104 individual presentations ranging from rehabilitating nerves and limbs to newfangled robots to sports. There also will be more than 350 posters from graduate students and other researchers giving sneak previews of findings, many of which will appear months later in peer-reviewed journals.

Add to that four symposia on timely topics, keynote speeches, tutorials, tours of cutting-edge research labs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Providence and at Brown, social outings, and it adds up to a major undertaking, according to Thomas Roberts, associate professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. This is the first time Brown has served as host for the meeting.

“It’s like planning a gigantic wedding,” said Roberts, who, along with Joseph “Trey” Crisco III, professor of orthopaedics, are the meeting’s co-chairs.

Some highlights of this year’s gathering include discussions of robots inspired by animal locomotion, such as a robotic swimming fish, a “Big Dog” robot that can run, and a flying machine that perches. Another session will explore advances in orthoses and prosthetic devices, so-called “exoskeletons” that create or improve movement in arms, legs, and feet. A wealth of research also will be presented on the growing influence of biomechanics in sports, including baseball, boxing, cycling, golf, running, skiing, soccer, taekwondo and volleyball.

Biomechanics is a relatively young scientific society, established in 1977. The field has come to embrace numerous disciplines, including biology, engineering, mathematics, medicine and physics. Unlike many scientific societies, the ASB’s membership is roughly evenly split between engineers and biologists, Roberts said.

“It’s really a place where engineers and life scientists connect,” Roberts said.

The society has no staff, so it relies on institutions like Brown to host meetings. Faculty and nearly two-dozen students and research assistants have volunteered their time, with assistance from the University’s conference services. Roberts has been involved with the ASB for many years, and Crisco has been the society’s president. They felt it was time to take a turn as host.

“It’s nice to do our service to the field. It’s a way to showcase to the community what’s going on here in the field of biomechanics,” Roberts said.

Rhode Island Hospital is also listed as an organizer. The meeting is being supported by Brown’s Department of Orthopaedics and the Warren Alpert Medical School, the VA Medical Center in Providence, Rhode Island Hospital, the RIH Orthopaedic Foundation, and the National Institutes of Health.

External link: http://today.brown.edu/articles/2010/08/asb

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Author:Richard C. Lewis