The Stryker/ORS Women’s Research Fellowship promotes women in science by providing an opportunity for a female ORS member who is a recent PhD in science or engineering to conduct research in the field of orthopaedic technology. Stephanie Cone, PhD was the 2020 recipient of this fellowship.
Position: Postdoctoral Fellow
Institution/Lab: University of Wisconsin – Madison, Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab
Profile (education, etc.)
I completed my undergraduate degree in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arkansas in 2014. Then I joined the Translational Orthopaedics Research Lab in the North Carolina State and University of North Carolina joint department of Biomedical Engineering, where I studied changes in the structure and function of the soft tissues of the knee during skeletal growth. After completing my PhD in 2019, I joined the department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin where I study novel technologies for measuring tendon and ligament properties in vivo, and I teach a course in Human Movement Biomechanics.
What is your specific area of research?
I study changes in the structure-function relationship in tendons and ligaments during skeletal growth.
What was the title of the project you submitted for the Stryker/ORS Women’s Research Fellowship?
Direct measurement of tendon loading following pediatric and adolescent ACL reconstructions
What were the specific aims of your project, and what have you found so far?
We proposed to use shear wave tensiometry to track the biomechanical function of ACL graft sites (patellar tendon, hamstring tendon, and IT band) during post-op rehab across a range of skeletally immature ACL reconstruction techniques. The in vivo work for this project has experienced pretty substantial delays due to COVID-19 and ongoing safety precautions, but over the past year this fellowship has enabled my work with an intern to design tissue-specific versions of our shear wave tensiometers to better suit these applications. Additionally, I’ve been developing ultrasound techniques and computational models to expand the study into a structure-function analysis of these graft sites.
What is the potential impact of you study on patient care?
We hope to use direct measures of graft site function to improve optimize recovery time following age-specific ACL reconstructions.
How has winning the fellowship impacted your career?
Through this fellowship, I have been able to further develop my mentoring skills with a full-time intern and have been able to establish an independent study path during my postdoc. The clinical data I am collecting through this project will be key preliminary work for my early career proposals and applications!
Describe how will you continue your project.
I’m planning to use the results of this study to develop a computational model of pediatric ACL reconstruction techniques. Moving forward, I would like to follow the same pipeline for additional surgical procedures.
In your spare time, what do you do for fun?
I spend a lot of time at my local crossfit gym, and this summer I’m training for a 450 mile bike-camping trip in July!
What is the most unusual/unexpected item sitting on your desk right now?
A few tennis balls to throw if my dog gets wild during virtual meetings.