Powered prostheses and orthoses/exosekeletons, biological signal processing, machine learning and pattern recognition, human subject research, biomechanics, myoelectric (EMG) signal
Dr. Young's research is focused on developing control systems to improve prosthetic and orthotic systems. His research is aimed at developing clinically translatable research that can be deployed on research and commercial systems in the near future. Some of the interesting research questions are how to successfully extract user intent from human subjects and how to use these signals to allow for accurate intent identification. Once the user intent is identified, smart control systems are needed to maximally enable individuals to accomplish useful tasks. For lower limb devices, these tasks might include standing from a seated position, walking, or climbing a stair. We hope to improve clinically relevant measures with powered mechatronic devices, including reducing metabolic cost, improving biomechanics and decreasing the time required to perform daily tasks of living.
A central challenge for many organisms is the generation of stable, versatile locomotion through irregular, complex environments. Animals have evolved to negotiate almost every environment on this planet. To do this, animals' nervous systems acquire, process and act upon information. Yet their brains must operate through the mechanics of the body’s sensors and actuators to both perceive and act upon the environment. Our research investigates how physics and physiology enable locomoting animals to achieve the remarkable stability and maneuverability we see in biological systems. Conceptually, this demands combining neuroscience, muscle physiology, and biomechanics with an eye towards revealing mechanism and principle -- an integrative science of biological movement. This emerging field, termed neuromechanics, does for biology what mechatronics, the integration of electrical and mechanical system design, has done for engineering. Namely, it provides a mechanistic context for the electrical (neuro-) and physical (mechanical) determinants of movement in organisms. We explore how animals fly and run stably even in the face of repeated perturbations, how the multifuncationality of muscles arises from their physiological properties, and how the tiny brains of insects organize and execute movement.
Dr. Hammond’s research focuses on the design and control of adaptive robotic manipulation (ARM) systems. This class of devices exemplified by kinematic structures, actuation topologies, and sensing and control strategies that make them particularly well-suited to operating in unstructured, dynamically varying environments - specifically those involving cooperative interactions with humans. The ARM device design process uses an amalgamation of bioinspiration, computational modeling and optimization, and advanced rapid prototyping techniques to generate manipulation solutions which are functionally robust and versatile, but which may take completely non-biomorphic (xenomorphic) forms. This design process removes human intuition from the design loop and, instead, leverages computational methods to map salient characteristics of biological manipulation and perception onto a vast robotics design space. Areas of interest for ARM research include kinematically redundant industrial manipulation, wearable robotic devices for human augmentation, haptic-enabled teleoperative robotic microsurgery, and autonomous soft robotic platforms.
Optical technologies have enabled key advances in biology and medicine due to their ability to assess many chemical and physical properties of cells and tissues with great flexibility (e.g., in-vivo, non-invasively, over a wide range of length scales, and over long periods of time). The OIS lab seeks to continue advancing optical technologies to help improve our understanding of biological processes and our ability to identify disease. Specifically, we focus on developing and applying label-free linear and nonlinear spectroscopic methods, along with advanced signal processing methods, to gain access to novel forms of functional and molecular contrast for a variety of applications, including cancer detection, tumor margin assessment, hematology, and neuron functional imaging.
Evolutionary microbiology, bacterial social life, virulence and drug resistance:
We study the multi-scale dynamics of infectious disease. Our goal is to improve the treatment and control of infectious diseases, through a multi-scale understanding of microbial interactions.
Our approach is highly interdisciplinary, combining theory and experiment, evolution, ecology and molecular microbiology in order to understand and control the multi-scale dynamics of bacteria pathogens.