Skop, is also recognized for developing a systems biology course and for mentoring Native American students. With Cherokee Indian ancestry, Skop has made a commitment to bring Native students to campus and professional meetings. "Many are very good in math and science," she notes. "But it's often hard for them to leave home because of close family ties and lack of funding."
At Ohio State University, James Schmiedeler, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, has been reaching across disciplines into the area of neuroscience, studying how the brain plans movement and how a stroke damages a person's motor skills. As part of his research, Schmiedeler is developing a mathematical model of motor coordination. Based on that model, Schmiedeler will collaborate with the university's division of physical therapy and department of physical medicine and rehabilitation to develop a robot to aid patients' physical rehabilitation. Over time, the device would help physical therapists gauge a patient's improvement.
Schmiedeler is currently working with a prototype robotic system that is assessing the movement of stroke patients and helping him fine-tune his mathematical model. Eventually, the robot will be able to amplify the force applied by stroke patients and help direct the movement of those with coordination difficulties.
"As in playing a piece of music on the piano, there are different elements involved," says Schmiedeler. "There's the geometry of the fingering, the speed at which that geometry is executed, and the muscle forces required to achieve that speed. You may learn a new piece slowly, but when you eventually master it at the proper speed, you retain the ability to go back and play it slowly because the fingering geometry remains the same. If we can assess whether the damage to coordination from a stroke is at the geometry, speed, or force level, we can d
|Contact: Maria Zacharias|
National Science Foundation