Bio-X Graduate Student Fellow

Awarded in 2017
Home Department: Bioengineering
Faculty Advisors: Scott Delp (Bioengineering, Mechanical Engineering) and Helen Bronte-Stewart (Neurology & Neurological Sciences)

Research Title: Developing a novel measurement system to understand the neural and biomechanical signatures of pathological gait in Parkinson’s disease

Research Description: A severe complication of Parkinson’s disease, freezing of gait is a failure of neuromuscular control that results in unpredictable episodes of faltering gait and gait cessation, Photo of graduate student Johanna O'Day in the lab, coding on a computer with dual monitors.which can lead to falling and injury. There is little understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms that result in freezing behavior and no tools with which to explore such mechanisms. Johanna will develop a novel measurement system that can elucidate real time neural signaling synchronized with objective, validated measures of movement in freely moving Parkinson’s disease patients to determine neural and biomechanical mechanisms responsible for freezing of gait.  Developing this tool requires integrating bioengineering, neurology and psychology. 


Johanna is a Scientific Program Manager at the WuTsai Human Performance Alliance, a collaborative center working to discover the unknown principles of peak performance and translate them to enable optimal health and well-being for all.