Dec. 1, 2018
Professor O’Connell was selected as the ORS Spine Section Member Spotlight for the December 2018 Newsletter. Read the spotlight article here.

Nov. 28, 2018
Congratulations to Bo Yang on his paper titled “GAG content, fiber stiffness, and fiber angle affect swelling-based residual stress in the intact annulus fibrosus” on being accepted for publication in Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology!

This computational study evaluates the formation of residual stresses and strains in a fiber reinforced annular structure. While this particular study focused on the intervertebral disc, the findings have broader implications for other annular tissues, such as vascular walls.

Nov. 12, 2018
Congratulations to Ben Werbner on being awarded the Floyd Fellowship, which will support his research activities during the Spring 2019 semester!

Nov. 6, 2018
Congratulations to Megan Pendleton and coworkers! Megan’s paper titled “High-Precision Method for Cyclic Loading of Small Animal Vertebrae to Assess Bone Quality” has been accepted for publication in Bone Reports (Open access article that you can read here).

Megan’s research has helped establish robust methods for testing fatigue properties of trabecular mouse bones. Fatigue properties are crucial for understanding damage accumulation in the body (e.g., getting microfractures while training for a marathon), but existing methods have provides very noisy data preventing researchers from exploring mechanisms for damage accumulation during fatigue loading.

Oct. 24, 2018
Professor O’Connell has been named the inaugural chair of the Don M. Cunningham Endowed Professorship!

Sept. 12, 2018
Last year’s Early Onset Scoliosis (EOS) MEng team worked on creating functional spinal braces for young children (< 5 years) to prevent further spinal deformation during growth.

Sept. 11, 2018
Congratulations to the Million Hands Team for having their Capstone project featured by the Fung Institute! Read about their project here!

Sept. 5, 2018
Congratulations to Gabriel Lopez on having his first peer-reviewed journal paper accepted to ACS Biomaterials Science & Engineering!

Aug. 31, 2018
Semih Bezci’s paper on compression-torsion joint properties was featured in the ORS Spine Newsletter.

Aug. 29, 2018
Congratulations to Emily Lindberg on passing her preliminary exam!

July 26, 2018
Undergraduate students looking for research opportunities in the O’Connell Lab should apply through this link.

April 2, 2018
Congrats to graduate student Emily Lindberg on receiving the 2018 NSF Graduate Fellowship!

March 31, 2018
Congrats to graduate student Bo Yang on having his paper titled “Swelling Behavior of Fiber-Reinforced Soft Tissues is Affected by Fiber Orientation, Fiber Stiffness, and Lamella Structure” accepted to the Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials.

Biological tissues are comprised largely of water. In the soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system, the ability to attract and imbibe water molecules is largely attributed to the glycosaminoglycan content in the tissue. This study looks at how tissue swelling behavior is altered with the addition of collagen fibers. Specifically, we evaluated fiber orientation, fiber network, and lamella structure (e.g., cross ply laminate structure). The findings are important for researchers developing new soft materials for biological or nonbiological applications.

March 19, 2018
Ongoing work by one of the Masters of Engineering Groups in the lab has been featured by the Fung Institute! Million Hands is a collaborative project with Alice Agogino and students are working on developing a low-cost framework to create functional finger prosthetics. Devices available on the market are largely limited to hand amputees, with limited options for people with congenital defects or finger amputations. Read more about their work here.

Feb. 12, 2018
Congratulations to Dr. Grace O’Connell on being selected as the 2017-2018 John Vaughan Scholar, which is distributed through the Arthritis National Research Foundation.

Feb. 8, 2018
Recent work in the lab focused on developing a microfluidic channel to assess 3D tissue growth potential of articular chondrocytes was highlighted this week on The National Arthritis Research Foundation Website. This work is in collaboration with Professor Lydia Sohn’s group in Mechanical Engineering.

Feb. 5, 2018
Congrats to Dr. O’Connell for receiving the prestigious NSF CAREER Award!

Jan. 31, 2018
Dr. O’Connell’s course “Designing for the Human Body” (ME178/ME278/BioE137/BioE237) was featured in the Mechanical Engineering Fall 2017 Mailer.

Jan. 25, 2018
Congrats to Semih Bezci on his paper titled “Contribution of facets, axial compression, and composition on human lumbar discs in torsion” being accepted for publication in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research.

This work is a continuation of Semih’s previous work studying torsion mechanics in bovine discs. In this paper, we evaluate the relationship between axial compression and axial rotation (torsion). The results of this study demonstrate that torsional mechanical properties of the disc are dynamic and increase with larger compressive loads. Or to think about it in another way, consider how much you can rotate your spine during yoga and compare that to rotating while carrying a heavy load in your hands. There will be more resistance to rotation with the heavier load.

Jan. 11, 2018
Congrats to Semih Bezci on passing his qualifying examination and advancing to PhD candidacy! Semih’s dissertation work will expand on his previous work that evaluated the role of tissue swelling in the intervertebral disc.