Physiology Brownbag Seminars – Spring 2020

Physiology “brown-bag” lunchtime seminars are held twice a month on WEDNESDAYS at noon in Applied Physiology Building, room 1253 (or as indicated). Special seminar dates/times outside of the regular schedule are indicated as such.

Contact Dr. Boris Prilutsky,, to be considered as a future speaker, added to the e-mail distribution list, if you would like to meet with a speaker, or for other seminar-related inquiries.
For directions: Applied Physiology

SEMINAR: Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Navigating new opportunities for prognosis of neurodegenerative disorders

Tarkeshwar Singh, PhD
Department of Kinesiology
University of Georgia


Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are highly prevalent neurodegenerative disorders that affect over 6 million people in the US. Both diseases are characterized by lengthy periods of progressive neurodegeneration prior to the onset of clinically detectable motor and cognitive symptoms. The ability to detect preclinical neurodegeneration would provide a unique opportunity for providing treatments that can delay the onset and reduce the impact of PD and AD. However, validated biomarkers capable of detecting preclinical neurodegeneration are currently unavailable. Recent studies have identified behavioral features of eye movements and driving that may be used as prognostic biomarkers of preclinical neurodegeneration. Furthermore, my research on neurological disorders has shown that eye movements can interfere with motor performance during a visuomotor task that is a known predictor of driving performance. Together, these findings suggest that measures of interference between eye movements and motor performance may be highly sensitive to preclinical neurodegeneration in PD and AD. The objective of my current and future research is to use a systems neuroscience approach to develop novel behavioral and neurophysiological biomarkers that are capable of detecting preclinical neurodegeneration in PD and AD.

Bio: Dr. Tarkesh Singh got his bachelors in 2003 in chemical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, an MS in biomechanics from the Nanyang Tech University in Singapore in 2008, and finally obtained his PhD in motor control (with a minor in statistics) from the Penn State University in 2012. He then did multiple postdocs in stroke rehab and electrophysiology at the University of South Carolina and Medical University of South Carolina. Since 2017, he has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Division of Neuroscience at the University of Georgia. Since moving to the University of Georgia, he has focused on studying aging and Parkinson’s Disease. His current research is focused on sensorimotor integration and cognitive motor control in these populations. He has published over 20 papers in the areas of biomechanics, motor control and neurorehabilitation.

Host: T. Richard Nichols, PhD
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Location: Applied Physiology Building (555 14th Street NW, 30318), Room 1253


SEMINAR: Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Combining Computational and Experimental Biomechanics Tools to Understand and Overcome Movement Disability

Dustin Crouch, PhD
Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering
University of Tennessee


The human motor system elegantly displays a strong structure-function relationship that typifies biological systems. Many computational and experimental tools have been developed to quantify the structure and function of the many components of the motor system. These tools not only help us better understand how the system works but also inform the development of treatments or biomedical devices designed to augment or restore motor function for a wide variety of conditions. Dr. Crouch’s training and hitherto brief faculty career exemplify how diverse tools – computational musculoskeletal models, animal models, and human subjects research – can be applied to address diverse problems in biomechanics. The clinical conditions and treatments he investigated during his training include brachial plexus peripheral nerve injury and nerve transfers, and musculoskeletal-model-based algorithms for motorized prosthesis control. His current lab focuses on implantable prostheses that can be attached to muscles for people with amputation and on wearable spring-powered exoskeletons for movement assistance. These examples demonstrate the broad power of biomechanics tools and the opportunity for students and researchers to pivot among different applications in their careers.

Bio: Dustin Crouch is director of the Upper Limb Assist Lab and Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dustin earned his BS degree in aerospace engineering at NC State University, then worked for 3 years at GE Aviation as a design engineer for rotating parts in gas turbine engines. Under the mentorship of Dr. Katherine Saul, Dustin earned his PhD in Biomedical Engineering with a focus in musculoskeletal biomechanics at the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest University School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences. He returned to NC State to complete a 3-year post-doc in Neural Engineering with Dr. Helen Huang in the UNC-NCSU Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering. In August 2017, Dustin joined the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Biomedical Engineering as a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He recently received an NIH K12 award as part of the Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Engineering Research Career Development Program.

Host: Greg Sawicki, PhD
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Location: Applied Physiology Building (555 14th Street NW, 30318), Room 1253


SEMINAR: Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Hand selection behavior depends on interlimb differences in motor performance: effect of long-term practice and sensorimotor conditions

Andrzej Przybyla, PhD
Department of Physical Therapy
University of North Georgia


Although hand preference behavior, i.e. motor decisions on which hand we select to move, have been studied extensively, the underlying neural mechanisms are not well understood. Most of previous work was focused on modulation of hand selection via task conditions, i.e. proximity of targets or specificity of task goals. My aim is to further our understanding on how hand selection behavior is affected by well-documented hemispheric specific efficiencies for different aspects of motor control resulting in interlimb differences in movement performance kinematics. I focus on whether and how hand selection behavior can be modified through long-term training or sensorimotor conditions and in this talk, I will present evidence that hand selection can be modified by promoting specific dominant or nondominant efficiencies in motor control. These observations can be further explored and ultimately applied in rehabilitation to aid positive changes in frequency and spatial patterns of hand usage.

Bio: Dr. Przybyla received his Bachelors degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Wroclaw University of Technology in Poland. He received his PhD in Spine Biomechanics from the University of Bristol. He worked as a postdoctoral scholar with Dr. Sainburg at the Pennsylvania State University. Dr. Przybyla joined the University of North Georgia in the fall 2017. His multidisciplinary research experience include neurorehabilitation, movement neuroscience, biomechanics, sports and exercise science. He focused on studying basic neural mechanisms underlying brain lateralization of motor behavior with application to neurocontrol of movement, motor decision making, stroke rehabilitation, aging, motor training, learning and development.

Host: Boris I. Prilutsky, PhD
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Location: Applied Physiology Building (555 14th Street NW, 30318), Room 1253


SEMINAR: Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Ischemic Stroke Impairs Osteovascular Structure and Bone Adaptation

Jacqueline Cole, PhD
Department of Biomedical Engineering
University of North Carolina and North Carolina State University


Functional vasculature is essential for healthy bone remodeling, and vascular dysfunction following ischemic stroke is associated with increased fracture incidence. However, the effect of stroke on microvasculature within bone (osteovasculature) is not well understood. My lab characterizes osteovasculature in mouse models at functional, microstructural, and cellular/molecular levels to study mechanisms contributing to bone fragility. To do this we developed a minimally invasive laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF) technique suitable for monitoring bone perfusion longitudinally during stroke recovery. We also optimized contrast-enhanced microcomputed tomography protocols to measure osteovascular structure and its proximity to bone, which is indicative of its osteogenic potential. Our ongoing work identifying bone-specific biomarkers unique to stroke will inform treatment targets for mitigating the impaired bone adaptation observed post-stroke.

Dr. Jacque Cole is an Assistant Professor in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and director of the Orthopaedic Mechanobiology Lab. She received a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering from Auburn University and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell University. She completed two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Michigan in Chemistry and Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Cole is committed to K-12 STEM outreach, directing the National Biomechanics Day effort at NC State since it started in 2016, earning the Best Content Award in 2017 and Greatest Impact Award in 2018 from the American Society of Biomechanics. Lab website: Twitter: @JacqueColeLab

Host: T. Greg Sawicki, PhD
Time: 12:00 – 1:00 PM
Location: Applied Physiology Building (555 14th Street NW, 30318), Room 1253