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We Engineer Excellence

We Stand in Solidarity Against Racism

The Department of Bioengineering stands in solidarity with our students, staff and faculty against social injustice and acts of racism. We are shocked and saddened by the recent, brutal deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Nina Pop, Rayshard Brooks and others. Like many members of our community, we are frustrated that these deaths are only the most recent manifestations of long-standing racial inequality in this country. 
The Department supports the call to action made by the Bourns College of Engineering.
•    We acknowledge that systemic racism permeates and poisons all levels of academia. 
•    We affirm that the Department has zero tolerance for racism, institutional bias or acts of violence against Black members of our community. 
•    We are committed to supporting Black students and combating the bias and inequity they face. 
•    We are committed to critically examining our recruitment and retention efforts to better support Black students, faculty and staff. 
We would also like to take this moment to recognize the essential contributions made every day by Black students, faculty and staff. They are part of the Bioengineering family, and the department would not be as strong today without their efforts.


Distinguished Speaker: Eric J. Perreault, PhD, Northwestern University

205/206 WCH

Title: Regulation of shoulder stability: neural mechanisms that reflect and augment our anatomy

Abstract:  The neural and musculoskeletal systems are intimately linked in the control of movement and posture. The musculoskeletal system serves as a mechanical interface between the computations of our nervous system and our ability to physically interact with the world around us. Our laboratory works at the intersection of biomechanics and motor systems neuroscience. Our engineering focus is on developing tools to noninvasively quantify the mechanisms underlying the neural control of limb mechanics, and our scientific focus in on using those tools to better understand neuromechanical control in healthy and impaired populations. This talk will review two recent studies: investigations into the use of ultrasound shear wave elastography for quantifying the mechanical properties of individual muscles, and studies on the neural and biomechanical factors contributing to the regulation of shoulder stability.

The shoulder is the most complex and mobile joint in the human body, but this mobility comes at a cost as it is also the joint most likely to dislocate. Appropriately regulating the mechanical properties of the shoulder therefore is critical for maintaining stability and controlling motion of the upper limb during activities of daily living. We have been conducting experiments to quantify the neural and biomechanical factors contributing to the 3D mechanics of the human shoulder. These have demonstrated global increases in shoulder impedance during the generation of even single degree-of-freedom isometric torques. This broad mechanical coupling is reinforced by distributed feedback control in which the stretch-sensitive reflexes to any given muscle exhibit complex patterns of gain-scaling that imply contributions from multiple muscles acting about the shoulder. Finally, we have recently been exploring the limits of neural control, demonstrating that the ability to regulate shoulder stiffness decreases in postures where dislocations are most likely to occur.

Bio: Eric Perreault is Professor and Chair of Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University, with joint appointments in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. He received his B.Eng. and M. Eng. degrees in Electrical Engineering from McGill University and his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University. Eric’s research focuses on understanding the neural and biomechanical factors involved in the control of multi-joint movement and posture and how these factors are modified following neuromotor pathologies such as stroke and spinal cord injury. The goal is to provide a scientific basis for understanding normal and pathological motor control that can be used to guide rehabilitative strategies for individuals with motor deficits.