Current Title and Department: Research Engineer in the Department of Biomechanics
Current Employer: Hospital for Special Surgery
Undergraduate Degree, University: University of Washington (Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering)
Graduate Degree, University: University of Virginia (Master of Science, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering)
Post-doctoral Position: N/A
Past Employers: Center for Applied Biomechanics (University of Virginia), Center for Limb Loss and Mobility (Seattle VA Medical Center, University of Washington)
Mentors: Dr. Suzanne Maher, Dr. Jason Kerrigan, Dr. William Ledoux, Matthew Kindig
Could you describe the path you’ve taken in meniscus research? How did it evolve?
Much like the history of meniscus research, I started my path looking at how the removal of meniscus can change contact mechanics of the joint. Within two years, it evolved to investigate repair strategies of various injuries from meniscal leaflet tear to posterior root tear. Even while these investigations are still underway, new methods of meniscus replacement have begun, with new materials being tested within cadaveric models. As new ideas for replacement/repair are ever growing, I’m excited to study how these new applications will affect the mechanics of the knee joint.
When you started in meniscus research, what was your biggest question? Do you think its answered?
If I’m being honest, my first question was “what exactly is a meniscus?” I started my career in foot & ankle and lumbar spine, and it was only when I began at HSS did I learn more about the meniscus. Once I became familiar, my question became “how is the joint load distributed between the meniscus and cartilage, and how does that differ in the overall population?” This is still an ongoing question we are investigating; but we are already starting to parse out distinct groups of the population that are categorized as meniscal-dominant loaders or cartilage-dominant loaders. Moreover, these groups are showing distinct patterns during stance phase of gait that we are excited to explore.
What collaboration was the most unexpected of your career? How did it impact your work today?
As a researcher whose primary work has been physical experiments, the first time I worked directly with a finite element modeler in a project was my most unexpected collaboration. It was incredibly useful to have a perspective on testing centered on the future application of model validation, and overall helped me understand more defined boundary conditions and data analysis. To this day, I like to engage with modelers as much as possible so their insight can help me better define my test setup.
In your opinion, what is the current open question in the meniscus field right now?
I would have to say the main question is whether the meniscus should be removed, replaced, or repaired. Granted, I would say we have started to move away from the idea of total removal (for the most part) and have focused on the concept of replace vs repair. As more options for replacement become available, I think this debate will be the main focus for the years to come.
What advice would you give investigators who are just starting out in the field?
Never be afraid to ask questions! Collaboration is the key to research and it’s never a detriment to show your ignorance; in fact, it helps build your knowledge. Moreover, bringing your fresh perspective to a project can help bolster the answer to the research question. Never forget there’s always something new to learn and other researchers love to share!
When you’re not in the lab, what do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy exploring food options in the city, and swimming wherever and whenever I can.
What is the most unusual/unexpected item sitting on your desk right now?
A small fruit bat encased in acrylic named “Bartholomew”