Lab members

Thomas Roberts, Professor

My training is in biomechanics and comparative physiology. I received my B.A. in Biology from the University of Chicago and my Ph.D. from the Organismic and Evolutionary Biology Department at Harvard University. In my graduate work I used a broad comparative approach to examine the link between musculoskeletal morphology and the metabolic energy cost of running. As a postdoctoral fellow at Northeastern I focused on the physiological and mechanical behavior of skeletal muscle. My research program aims to integrate our understanding of muscle physiology with modern approaches in functional morphology and biomechanics.

Postdoctoral fellows

Carolyn Eng

Ph.D., Harvard University; B.S. Duke University

I am interested in the influence of elastic connective tissues on the energetics and mechanics of movement. In my PhD work, I explored the role of fascia in movement by studying its biaxial material properties andin vivo strain patterns. I used these data to incorporate the iliotibial band into a musculoskeletal model of the human lower limb to understand its role in human locomotion. With my postdoctoral research in the Roberts lab, I am exploring the role of aponeurosis in modulating muscle function. By modifying aponeurosis properties, I will directly examine the role of aponeurosis in modulating muscle shape changes and test how similar alterations occurring after surgical intervention or with injury, age, or disease influence the mechanics of muscle contraction.

Michael Rosario

Ph.D., Duke; B.S. University of California, Berekely

By combining mechanical testing and computer simulation, I study the biomechanics of elastic energy storage and release. In my PhD, I used a combination of micro-CT scanning and mechanical testing to characterize the 3D morphology and function of the mantis shrimp raptorial appendage. Additionally, as a DOE Computational Science Graduate Fellow, I developed muscle-spring simulations of bullfrogs and grasshoppers to investigate the effect of time-constraint on optimal tendon stiffness. As a postdoc in the Roberts lab, I study the dynamics of energy storage/release by quantifying the viscoelasticity of rat tail tendon fascicles and measuring the effects of stress-rate on energy storage. In addition to research, I’m also the creator of SOURCE (studying, originating, and understanding R code examples), a workgroup dedicated to exploring the fundamentals of programming and statistical computing.

Ph.D. students


David Sleboda

B. S., Zoology, Michigan State University

I am broadly interested in how animals use the laws of the physical world to their advantage. I earned an undergraduate degree in zoology from Michigan State University, where I focused on comparative anatomy and physiology. My current work in the lab explores how bones and other connective tissues influence muscle shape changes during contractions.



Kris Stover

M.S. College of Charleston; B.S., Ohio University

I am interested in the effects of domestication on locomotion and its implications for morphological changes, performance and the structural organization of muscle. Artificial selection has lead to faster growth in order to decrease time to market and large increases in muscle mass in some species. I am using the turkey to examine these relationships by comparing wild, heritage and broad breasted white breeds.


Jillian Oliver

M.S., Uppsala University and University of Montpellier II; B.S., McGill University.

I am primarily interested in the implications of morphology in locomotion, and in looking at questions of form from an evolutionary perspective. During my master's I focused on the peculiar vertebral column of the armadillo, studying the development of its morphology and its mechanical properties during bending, in order to evaluate its role in locomotion. I am starting off my time here developing a detailed 3D muscle model to be used as a tool in experimentation, as well as to investigate patterns of fiber architecture.




Lab alumni

Chris Anderson University of South Dakota

Chris Arellano University of Houston

Angela Horner California State University

Henry Astley University of Akron

Manny Azizi University of California

Greg Sawicki University of North Carolina

H. Tonia Hsieh Temple University

Frank Nelson University of Washington

Annette Gabaldon Colorado State University

Ariel Camp 

Roy Ruttiman Brown University