Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Mechanics
Lehigh University

PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Lehigh University (2008); Postdoc at the Cork Institute of Technology (Cork, Ireland)

What is your specific area of interest?
Bone fracture healing and surgical fracture repair with an emphasis on large animal models and clinical translation

What are you currently working on?
My research focus is on orthopaedic trauma, including bone fracture, the mechanics of bone healing and nonunion, and mechanoregulation of fracture repair. One of my group’s exciting long-term projects is translational application of image-based finite element analysis (FEA) for in vivo assessment of fracture healing. The goal is to develop reliable, non-invasive virtual mechanical tests that can quantitatively measure structural bone healing. For this work, we have been fortunate to partner with Dr. Salim Darwiche and the large-animal research team in the Musculoskeletal Research Unit (MSRU) at University of Zürich. In our recent publication in Journal of Orthopaedic Research®, we developed a material assignment law for ovine cortical bone and showed that virtual mechanical tests are superior to morphometric and radiographic measures of bone healing. Recently, we also showed that the virtual mechanical testing of fractured bones is a reliable surrogate for physical biomechanical testing when it captures the soft-hard biomechanical duality of fracture callus. Follow our lab updates on Twitter @DaileyOrthoLab.

What has been the biggest challenge/issue for you lately in your research? 
Like many in the ORS community, my clinical research projects were interrupted or postponed due to COVID-19. Now we’re back in business with research on campus, but still seeing some hesitancy for patients in terms of their willingness to participate in clinical studies. We’re hoping that begins to renormalize throughout 2022 and beyond.

What project(s) are you looking forward to in the near future?
We have some exciting clinical studies in the pipeline now that use virtual mechanical testing to study fracture healing. We are assessing the feasibility of using these techniques to detect humeral nonunions in an OTA-funded study in collaboration with Prof. Louis Gerstenfeld (Boston University School of Medicine) and Dr. Paul Tornetta, III (Boston Medical Center). We are also kicking off a new clinical study very soon that will be assessing the interrelationships between nicotine exposure from cigarettes and vapes, pain management, and bone healing in tibial fractures.

When not in the lab, what do you like to do for fun?
Outside of work, I keep busy as a gymnastics mom to two amazing daughters (ages 13 and 10). My role involves doing elaborate hair styles in the pre-dawn hours, taking action photos, bandaging ripped hands, and doing lots and lots of driving.

What was the last book you read for fun? Would you recommend it?
I fill my commuting time with podcasts and audiobooks and I recently listened to Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir, author of the best-selling novel, The Martian. Both of these books are science fiction, heavy on the science and engineering. If you’re the kind of person who has ever scolded a student for not doing their unit analysis when solving a problem, you would love these books. Project Hail Mary is a delightful melting pot of biology, engineering, astrophysics, linguistics, and just plain adventure. I particularly recommend the audiobook version of Project Hail Mary for how a key auditory element of the plot was brought to life in the recording. Give it a shot!