International Society of Biomechanics
Gold sponsor

Student Travel Reports

The ISB Congress Travel Grant provided me the opportunity to present my dissertation work at an international conference and interact with the biomechanics community. Without the grant, it was unlikely I would have had the chance to do so. I would strongly encourage other students to take advantage of this opportunity to attend the conference.

My trip began with a visit to Canmore and Banff and invigorating hikes around the magnificent Canadian Rockies and beautiful Lake Louise. By the time I got to Calgary, my mind was clear and ready to focus on biomechanics. This was the first time I attended an ISB conference, and I found the conference to be comprehensive, well-attended and well-organized. There were several sessions focusing on spine, muscle and motor control, my areas of interest. In particular, I found the format of symposia led by a keynote speaker to be especially productive.

There were many insightful talks on aging, particularly by Toby Hayes, Al Schultz, Brian Maki and James Ashton-Miller. Ashton-Miller’s finding that patterns of light on the floor could affect walking in elderly, showed that simple solutions such as changing the interior design of living accomodations might help prevent falls. At the other end of the aging spectrum, a study by Yang and colleagues of treadmill walking in infants was interesting not only from the perspective of spinal and brainstem control, but also in relation to Maki’s work regarding lateral stepping to maintain balance in eldery. The spine symposium, which was led by keynote speaker Stuart McGill and included talks by Ian Stokes, Jacek Cholewicki, Aboulfazl Shirazi-Adl, and Jeff Lotz, was particularly worthwhile for me. At the end of the symposium, all the participants remained at the front of the room for a panel discussion, offering the opportunity to answer audience questions from their different perspectives and areas of expertise. Lunchtime lectures on forensic biomechanics and the "Klapskate story" also provoked interesting conversation. Of course, as is often the case at scientific meetings, many productive conversations and connections occurred outside of the lecture halls. In addition to the science, it was fun to see old friends and make new ones.

One of the highlights of the week was the student lunch with Sir Andrew Huxley. It was exciting to hear him talk, both historically about his life in science and scientifically about the latest research in muscle mechanics. More than that, it was truly inspiring to see his continued interest in science and the spark of energy that comes from a lifetime of learning. By the end of the week I was exhausted, but I noticed that Sir Huxley was still attending lectures, viewing posters and asking questions. I left the conference with renewed enthusiasm for biomechanics.