The University of Nebraska System has released the newest episode of its "Leading Nebraska" podcast series, featuring the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s work in biomechanics.
Biomechanics – the science of movement – has emerged as a key area of leadership and economic growth for UNO. The campus is home to the first standalone building in the world dedicated exclusively to researching human movement, helping UNO attract significant public and private funding, including multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health worth more than $10 million.
That funding is yielding groundbreaking innovations that are helping people live healthier, safer, happier lives – and creating "an economic engine in terms of jobs and growth," according to Nick Stergiou, assistant dean and director of the Division of Biomechanics and Research Development.
"Continuously investing in this area is very, very important, because our trajectory is absolutely phenomenal," Stergiou, who’s also the Distinguished Community Research Professor and founding chair of UNO’s Department of Biomechanics and director of the Center for Research in Human Movement Variability, says in the podcast.
"We just keep increasing in terms of our capabilities of producing new patents and, hopefully, more startup companies. Companies are moving here to be with us… We will become a true economic engine for Omaha and Nebraska."
Stergiou, together with other faculty, staff and students, study areas like gait rehabilitation, fall prevention and improving physical function for the elderly. Their work is vital to people suffering from movement-related disorders. Their lab incorporates principles from engineering, physiology and mathematics to understand the complexity of how humans integrate muscles, nerves and the environment to accomplish movement.
The team’s research has impacted the training techniques of surgeons, as well as the treatment of health conditions like peripheral arterial disease. The center’s projects also lead to improved quality of life, by reducing falls among patients with Parkinson’s disease or helping children with congenital defects through prosthetic limbs.
That research also helps train future researchers, contributing to the pipeline of much-needed STEM workers for Nebraska.
"It motivates me immensely to help young people have wonderful careers and make a difference. When I see our students come up with new therapies, new interventions, new ways to help other people – it’s very rewarding," Stergiou says.
Launched in 2019, the NU System’s "Leading Nebraska" podcast shares stories of researchers, students and educators across the four campuses who are growing the state’s workforce and quality of life. Podcast topics include nursing, agricultural education, workforce development, cybersecurity, teacher education, national defense and others, featuring experts from UNK, UNL, UNMC and UNO.
Listeners may follow the "Leading Nebraska" podcast here.