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Jack Winters - Research

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Research Interests:

A beauty of having a career as a professor is that one's path can naturally evolve over time (see my evolutionary process). But these are three general areas where I intent to sustain activities for a long time:

Movement science: This was my original passion, and the focus of nearly 100 publications during the 80's and 90's, including editing two books covering over 90 chapters. I love studying and teaching biomechanics and neuromuscular control, and find it a priviledge to have the opportunity to be humbled by these complex biosystems.

Bio-change/remodeling: Tissues are alive, and always remodeling. The roots of adaptive change remain mysterious, though our knowledge of cellular mechanisms is growing rapidly. Hence new opportunities for biosystems engineers. Whereas movements happen over the time course of seconds or less, the temporal dynamics of spontaneous healing and rehabilitative processes tend to evolve over timeframes from days to even months. Such bio-adaptive phenomena can be influenced by mechanical, chemical and/or electrical inputs. Working with doctoral student Yu "Fish" Wang, we are actively modeling such adaptive processes using a neurofuzzy framework to create nonlinear differential equations representing bio-remodeling of tissues such as muscle and systems such as person with stroke-induced impairment. There is much to learn, and this may become my main area of scientific contribution for the future, especially for applications related to neurorehabilitation and muscle biology.

Human-technology interfaces: I'm really interested in how to design interfaces that provide access to information and services for the largest possible number of people, including persons with disabiliites. This involves both research and development (R&D) activities, and includes work in intelligent agents and in designing assistive and personalized interfaces. Key applications relate to telehealth (breaking down the barrier of distance), accessible medical instrumentation (designing optimally accessible and usable interfaces), and our UniTherapy/TheraJoy stroke rehab projects. Such efforts blend my professional life with my life-long values related to human rights and social justice; perhaps in little but tangible ways our R&D can have an impact.

In all, I have over 130 publications, including journal articles, book chapters, and proceedings papers or abstracts.  Nearly 10% relate to engineering education and effective teaching strategies.   


 

Evolutionary Research Path - ... 

  • During the late 70's and early 80's, I worked under Drs. Savio Woo (then at UCSD, now at Pittsburgh) and Werner Goldsmith (UC Berkeley) studying connective tissue biomechanics injury repair (mostly knee ligaments) and impact biomechanics (head-neck), respectively.

  • During the early and mid 1980's, my primary research focus was on nonlinear neuromusculoskeletal modeling and optimization, starting with my doctoral research with Larry Stark, a brilliant scientist and wonderful mentor (see picture with my advisor at UC Berkeley, taken 10/97).  Larry passed away in 2004, but the memories are with many of us, and Starkfest '05 is one tribute.

  • In the late 1980s, my target was on complex biomechanical systems, optimization, and movement analysis, while running the Joint Function and Gait Lab at the Harrington Arthritis Research Center plus a lab as ASU that targeted head/eye coordination and anthrorobotics.  

  • During the 1990s while at CUA, my primary research focus shifted to rehabilitation engineering, shoulder biomechanics (sparked by a wonderful Dutch postdoc colleague, Frans Van der Helm), human performance assessment, neurofuzzy systems, and telerehabilitation.  

  • I was the original PI and co-director of the NIDRR-funded, $4.5 million Rehab Engineering Research Center (RERC) on Telerehabilitation, and stayed involved through a subvcontract to Marquette and via roughly 20 visits/year to Washington from 2000-2003.  

  • Here at Marquette, I've targeted applied research in rehabilitative bioengineering aimed at developing more effective systems and tools for 21st-century rehab therapy in areas such as stroke.  I also direct the Falk Neurorehabilitation Engineering Research Center and engage in telehealth research (cardiopulmonary, stroke).   

  • In 2002 I edited a book on Emerging and Accessible Telecommunications, Information and Healthcare Technologies, and feel strongly about the need to re-think new ways for providing researchers and consumers with timely access to information and services.  This focus on "access research" helped provide a foundation for the RERC on Accessible Medical Instrumentation, a NIDRR-funded grant that started in November 2002. Then in 2006 a new book came out from CRC Press that is entitled Medical Instrumentation: Accessibility and Usability Considerations (Winters and Story, eds); I'm a co-author for 8 of the chapters, with our focus being on innovative strategies for providing all people, including those with disabilities, with access to healthcare technologies.

 

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