Dr. Daley works at the interface of biomechanics, neuromuscular physiology, and neuroscience, to understand how humans and animals achieve integrated function for stable and agile movement. Research in the Neuromechancis lab, directed by Dr Daley, focuses on revealing fundamental principles for the biomechanics and sensorimotor control of bipedal locomotion in humans and ground moving birds. Bipedal gaits pose unique challenges for balance and stability. We study transient, ‘non-steady’ locomotor tasks, such as acceleration, turning, and negotiating uneven terrain. These tasks increase the risks of falls, collisions, and injury. We use experimental measures of biomechanics, in vivo muscle-tendon function, and muscle activation patterns to understand how movement is coordinated to minimize risks while meeting performance demands. These studies aim to reveal general principles for agile and stable movement that inform human and animal health and welfare— including clinical gait assessment, treatment of movement disorders, rehabilitation strategies, and bio-inspired engineering of legged robots and mobility technology.
Director of Education
Dr. Aguilar Roca’s primary education research is focused on the development and assessment of inquiry-based modules for upper-division physiology labs. In addition to curriculum design, she is working with other laboratory instructors to develop a graduate TA training program that is specific to teaching laboratories. Her second area of research is the use of active teaching techniques in large introductory biology lectures (>400 students/section). Although ideas for active teaching are abundant, few have been experimentally tested in an ecologically relevant setting. One specific strategy that she is pursuing is the use of a hybrid class format (i.e. some course content is converted into an online activity) in order to incorporate problem-solving and critical thinking exercises into class time
Dr. Azizi’s research is focused broadly on the physiology and mechanics of movement. Work in his lab strives to understand how the basic properties of skeletal muscle have been shaped by evolution and how shifts in these properties affect neuromuscular health and performance.
Dr. Reinkensmeyer is interested in robotics, wearable sensors, and computational neuroscience for movement rehabilitation focused on persons who have experienced a stroke. His group designs innovative rehabilitation technologies based on an understanding of neuromuscular control and plasticity mechanisms. Developing improved rehabilitation technology not only helps people with disabilities improve their movement ability, but also enhances scientific understanding of motor learning and use-dependent plasticity, which can, in turn, help us invent more effective, clinically useful technologies and therapies. His group is also using such technologies, along with computational models of neuro-recovery, to help assess and enhance emerging neuro-repair therapies after stroke and spinal cord injury.
Dr. Sharp’s research embodies two pillars. The first pillar focuses on injury prevention and wellness for dancers using motion capture system and applying methods of analysis to determine the relationship of motion in space we can further reduce injuries. The second pillar focuses on the development of novel technologies to advance rehabilitation strategies for individuals with neurological disorders by incorporating tools, such as motion capture systems and functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) with dance/movement therapy.
Dr. Yassa strives to understand how brains can store and retrieve information and in using this knowledge to improve the human condition. He uses cutting-edge human neuroscience tools to understand learning and memory in healthy and diseased brains. In particular, his lab is discovering ways in which our memory abilities change throughout the lifespan from childhood to older adulthood. Yassa’s lab is developing approaches to diagnose and treat memory disorders in patients with progressive diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or mood disorders like depression. The Yassa lab also explores the impact of lifestyle factors like sleep, diet, and exercise on memory and cognition. Dr. Yassa develops and refines cognitive assessment tools, with the goal of designing improved diagnostic and prognostic tests that can be used in community mental health settings.
Dr. Anderson’s own research is focused on two principal goals. First, investigating the interactions of transplanted stem cell populations within the injured niche, including the role of the evolving inflammatory microenvironment in stem cell fate and migration decisions. Second, investigating the role of inflammatory mechanisms in degeneration and regeneration in the injured CNS, particularly the role of the innate immune response and complement pathways in these conflicting but intertwined processes. Much of the research in Dr. Anderson’s laboratory bridges the junction between seeking to understand mechanism at the basic neuroscience level, and identifying translational neuroscience strategies to ameliorate the cellular and histopathological deficits associated with SCI to promote recovery of function.
Dr Naomi Chesler directs the Chesler Lab, the mission of which is to improve cardiovascular health through the integration of mechanical engineering, vascular biology and imaging tools, to advance knowledge in these fields, and to educate the next generation of leaders in biomechanics and mechanobiology. The lab is especially focused on advancing understanding of pulmonary hypertension and right ventricular failure. She also directs the UCI-Edwards Lifesciences Foundation Cardiovascular Innovation and Research Center, which has the larger mission of leading in dynamic discovery, innovation, translation, and inclusive excellence, and training the next generation of diverse leaders in cardiovascular science and engineering.
Dr. Chrastil uses fully immersive virtual reality functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to investigate the neural correlates of human spatial memory. She studies human path integration, spatial memory, and large-scale navigation in complex environments. The Chrastil lab looks to examine how active and passive navigation affect learning a new environment applying these same techniques. In addition, we are interested in questions of how proprioceptive input, vestibular information, decision-making, and attention contribute to learning different types of spatial knowledge. The Chrastil lab is broadly interested in individual differences in navigational abilities. Their research examines the relationship between performance and brain function, looking at both brain structure and fMRI activation across individuals.
Dr. Dan M. Cooper is the Associate Vice Chancellor for Clinical and Translational Science at UC Irvine, and former Chair of Pediatrics at UC Irvine. He is the Principal Investigator of UC Irvine’s Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA). As a pediatrician, pediatric pulmonologist, and former director of a busy pediatric intensive care unit, his career in research, teaching, and clinical care has been formed by working with children with diseases like asthma, cystic fibrosis, and lung disease of prematurity—all conditions in which chronic inflammation takes a terrible toll. His research has been focused on the mechanisms that link exercise, growth, and health in babies and children. Dr. Cooper founded the Pediatric Exercise and Genomics Research Center (PERC) at UC Irvine in 2003.
Spanning from the molecular to the whole-organism level, research in Dr. German’s laboratory is focused on the energy acquisition strategies of organisms. In short, Dr. German is interested in how organisms make a living and the consequences of different energy acquisition strategies for ecosystem fluxes. He largely works in the marine environment, but his students also work in terrestrial systems.
The Ivy lab investigates underlying mechanisms of early-life exercise influencing the structure and function of the developing brain. With a focus on learning and memory, the Ivy lab uses mouse models to uncover dynamic alterations in gene expression, chromatin modifications, and synaptic activity resulting from early-life exercise that can ultimately inform neuronal function and behavior.
The mission of the Ivy Lab is to understand, on a molecular level, the neurodevelopmental implications of exercise during early-life. The Ivy Lab uses cutting-edge techniques in neuroscience and molecular biology to discover novel genetic and epigenetic mechanisms (mechanisms that regulate how and when genes are expressed, and are influenced by environmental experiences) activated by exercise to influence the development and function of brain regions critical for learning and memory.
As a bioengineer, Dr. Keyak’s research currently focuses on biomechanical evaluation of whole bone strength (fracture force), treatment for osteoporosis and metastatic bone disease, and development of radioactive bone cement for treatment of tumors in bone. Dr. Keyak has developed software that can be used to evaluate hip fracture risk and the effects of exercise, spaceflight or medical treatments on proximal femur strength and fracture risk.
The Khine Lab Team is dedicated to improving human health by developing innovative, low-cost, and scalable point of care and continuous monitoring solutions. Because their platform technology originated with a eureka moment and a children's toy, the Khine lab is also committed to 'pay it forward' by helping to invent the next generation of inventors. The Khine lab wants to change the world by developing solutions to improve and democratize healthcare and education. Prior to UC Irvine, Khine was an assistant and founding professor at UC Merced from 2006-09. At UC Merced, Shrink Nanotechnologies Inc., the first start-up company from the youngest UC campus, was spun out of the research developed in Khine’s lab.
King is interested in using active learning methods to improve engineering and STEM education. As a biomedical engineer with a broad background in wireless and mobile health systems, clinical trials research, brain-computer interfaces, rehabilitation and robotics, she is interested in creating real-world applications and examples to help students relate their course materials to the problems they will solve in the workforce. Through active learning techniques such as think-pair share, collective assessment, problem-solving using real data and game-based learning, she is interested in engaging students in the learning process by performing meaningful learning activities.
Dr. Loudon’s research interests are in the area of physical biology, or biomechanics: the application of physical principles in the study of biological processes. Physical laws determine to a large extent where and how organisms can eat, move, and sense their environment. She is particularly interested in insect sensory biology and bioinspired design. Dr. Loudon is also interested in innovative and effective teaching methods.
The McHenry Lab studies the mechanics, sensing, and control of locomotion in aquatic animals. Current projects in his lab focus on understanding the communication between fishes in a school, the strategy of fish predators and prey, and the neuromechanics of crawling in sea stars.
As a molecular biologist and exercise physiologist, Shlomit Radom-Aizik, PhD, seeks to open new avenues of research in the molecular transducers of physical activity, focusing on the genomic and epigenetic response of circulating leukocytes to exercise. In her role as executive director of PERC, she oversees a team of research associates, exercise technicians, trainers and molecular laboratory technicians who have successfully studied and trained hundreds of healthy children and adolescents in prescriptive exercise, as well as children with conditions including obesity, asthma, leukemia, congenital heart disease and spina bifida.
Dr. Schneider is a behavioral psychologist and program evaluator with decades of experience conducting school-based intervention research to develop and test strategies to promote physical activity among low-active adolescents. With support from the NIH, she has investigated the impact of a multi-disciplinary diabetes prevention program addressing obesity among low-SES youth (The HEALTHY Study), the impact of an affect-based physical education intervention on low-active middle-schoolers, and the efficacy of a one-on-one intervention based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.
Dr. Steward’s research program explores how neurons establish, maintain, and modify their synaptic connections. One component of my research evaluates cellular and molecular processes that contribute to repair after CNS (especially spinal cord) injury. The second component addresses the mechanism underlying gene expression at synapses.
Dr. Steward’s current research focuses on mechanisms underlying the selective targeting and translation of mRNAs at synaptic sites on dendrites. His research uses a combination of molecular biological and neurophysiological techniques, genetically-modified mice, and behavioral assessments to define mechanisms and functional role of local protein synthesis at synapses in vivo.
Dr. Srinivasan serves as the director of the Theoretical and experimental research in the Human Neuroscience Lab (HNL) at the University of California Irvine. The HNL is focused on the integrative function of the brain in cognition. Their working hypothesis is that cognition involves the interaction between local processes in specific regions of the cortex and global brain networks. They carry out experimental studies using EEG, MEG, TMS, and fMRI on visual and auditory perception and attention, and we use volume conduction and dynamic models to elucidate the neural mechanisms underlying our findings.
Candice Taylor Lucas
Dr. Taylor Lucas’ current research broadly addresses the health needs of low-income and minority communities. It seeks to identify norms for early-life physical activity and to evaluate associations between responsive parenting and play. She is the founding director of the Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Action Group of Orange County, an initiative whose collaborators include the Children and Families Commission of Orange County, the Orange County Health Care Agency and MOMS Orange County. She also initiated a monthly weight-management clinic for children and adolescents that she directs at the UC Irvine Health family health centers in Santa Ana and Anaheim, and at Gottschalk Medical Plaza in Irvine.
Dr. Voloshina's research focuses on developing effective robotic assistive devices for gait augmentation and rehabilitation. She is interested in identifying the biomechanical limitations of people with motor impairment, developing individualized training regimens with robotic devices, and designing assistive devices that more effectively interact with the user and environment.
S. Ama Wray
Dr. S. Ama Wray is Professor at the University of California, Irvine, serving in both the Claire Trevor School of the Arts and the School of Humanities, where she is also the co-principal investigator of the Africana Institute for Creativity, Recognition, and Elevation, alongside Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o and Tiffany Willoughby-Herard. Wray’s examinations of West African cultures led to the creation of Embodiology®, a transformational methodology based on West African principles of human communication. Dr Wray is collaborating with investigators in the Center for Integrative Movement Sciences to use the framework of Embodiology® to investigate human movement and well-being. Optimization of human movement is fostered through polyrhythmic movement with coordinated use of breath and individual agency. Dr Wray’s initiative Joy in Motion — supports everyday people in transforming their indoor isolation into spaces of 'co-liberation', and as a necessary part of the development of this work, Wray gives back to the Kopeyia Village community in Ghana. The Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute also includes Wray’s Vitality in Motion program within their Wellness Services and has awarded a pilot grant to study its effects.
Liangzhong (Shawn) Xiang
Xiang’s research focuses on biomedical imaging. In particular, his lab explores new ways to generate ultrasound for imaging. The TRUE lab (Theranostics with Radiation-induced Ultrasound Emission lab) has invented or discovered X-ray-induced acoustic computed tomography (XACT), fast proton-induced acoustic imaging (PAI), and electroacoustic tomography (EAT). Broad applications include image-guided cancer treatment, bone density measurement, and brain imaging and modulation.
External Advisory Board
Our external advisory board members are involved in the planning and development of a nationwide Integrative Movement Sciences Institute (IMSI), formed by a consortium of faculty from 23 institutions around the country, centered at UCI. Together, we are working to transform movement sciences through team-based interdisciplinary collaboration and developing innovative approaches that enable the integration of knowledge across organizational scales from molecular mechanisms to whole-body movement. Current activities are funded through a design-phase Biology Integration Institute grant award from the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Kiisa Nishikawa. (NSF-BII IMSI Co-PI and Co-Director)
The Nishikawa laboratory is a trans-disciplinary group of scientists and engineers who study muscles and movement. The laboratory’s current focus is to understand the variation in muscle force during active muscle length changes. This work has led to many new and exciting ideas about the fundamental principals of muscle physiology. Currently, they have projects in molecular muscle physiology, kinesiology, biomechanics, neurophysiology, and exercise science.
Professor Ahn’s research focuses on the neural control and mechanics of animal locomotion. Ahn’s lab takes an integrative and multi-disciplinary approach to examine the different levels of organization that influence the behavioral output of the neuro-musculo-skeletal system in animals such as frogs, lizards, tarantulas, and even humans! Their work includes examining the neural signals sent to muscles and how the different levels of musculo-skeletal organization respond to these neural signals. By spanning the fields of muscle physiology, biomechanics, and motor control, Dr. Ahn hopes to discover general principles underlying the neuro-mechanical basis of legged locomotion.
Dr. Granzier studies the mechanisms whereby the giant filamentous protein titin (the largest protein known) influence muscle structure and function. His lab has shown that titin functions as a molecular spring that mediates acute responses to changing pathophysiological states of the heart. They also study the role of titin in cardiac disease, using mouse models with specific modifications in the titin gene, including deciphering the mechanisms that are responsible for gender differences in diastolic dysfunction. An additional focus of Dr. Granzier’s lab is on nebulin, a major muscle protein that causes a severe skeletal muscle disease in humans. Research is multi-faceted and uses cutting-edge techniques at levels ranging across the single molecule, single cell, muscle, and the intact heart. His research group is diverse and has brought together individuals from several continents with expertise ranging from physics and chemistry to cell biology and physiology.
The foundation for Dr. Murray’s work is the development of biomechanical models that accurately represent the mechanical actions of the upper extremity muscles. The models and corresponding anatomical databases that Dr. Murray has shared with the scientific community have been cited hundreds of times. The main thrust of her current research is the application of these models to better understand and, ultimately, to help improve function of the disabled upper limb. Her work has relevance over a broad scope, including basic motor control, the design of control systems for exoskeletons and upper limb prosthetics, restoration of hand and arm function following cervical spinal cord injury, rehabilitation of hand and arm function following stroke, orthopedic interventions for osteoarthritis, and prevention of injuries in baseball pitching.