Biomechanics Graduate Track
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Biomechanics is a broad field directed at applying the principles of engineering mechanics, across multiple length scales, to the study of biology and medicine. Topics in biomechanics range from understanding the role of stress in cytoskeleton dynamics as related to cell growth, migration, and adhesion to establishing patient-specific modeling techniques to predict in vivo biomechanical loading environments. The University of Utah has faculty conducting biomechanics research in areas such as: molecular biomechanics, cellular biophysics, cell mechanotransduction, computational biomechanics, hemodynamics, mechanobiology, medical device design, soft tissue mechanics (arteries, cartilage, ligaments), ocular biomechanics, orthopedic biomechanics, cardiovascular biomechanics, tissue engineering, and traumatic brain injury. Given the broad range of biomechanics research at the University of Utah, with faculty spanning numerous departments there exist ample collaborative opportunities and interdisciplinary projects with faculty in the College of Engineering, College of Science, Huntsman Cancer Institute, School of Medicine, and the Scientific Computing and Imaging (SCI) Institute. The Biomechanics track aims to provide students with a strong quantitative foundation in engineering mechanics, physiology, and medicine that will serve them equally well for careers in both academia or industry.

Example Sub-fields:

Masters Students

M.S. students within the biomechanics track must successfully complete the Biomechanics Track Core Courses and at least one additional course from the list of Biomechanics Track Elective Courses (shown below). Please note that some of the courses are offered every other year and plan accordingly.

Ph.D. Students

Ph.D. Qualifying Exam
The purpose of the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam is to ensure students are competent in the theoretical and conceptual fundamentals of biomechanics before undertaking intensive research in their selected field of study. Ph.D. Students in the Biomechanics track are expected to be proficient in the following topics: index and direct notation, finite deformation kinematics, concepts of stress and strain, linear elasticity, material behavior of biological materials, hyperelasticity, mixture theory, and fluid mechanics. These topics are covered in Biomechanics I and II courses, so much of the Qualifying Exam material will come from these courses. Additional information on the Ph.D. Qualifying Exam can be obtained by contacting the track advisor. Students should take Ph.D. Qualifying Exam following completion of the second year of study.

Program of Study

The Program of Study is a list created by the student and the supervisory committee of all courses to be completed by the student as part of the requirements for the Ph.D. The Program of Study requires formal approval by the student’s advisor, Dissertation Supervisory Committee, and Director of Graduate Studies. In addition to the bioengineering graduate core curriculum, the Program of Study for students in the Biomechanics track includes the Biomechanics Core Courses and Elective Courses that support the student’s area of research.

Biomechanics Track Core Courses*

Completion of these core courses and proficiency in the course content are required to pass the written Ph.D. Qualifying exam and the Ph.D. proposal, which includes an oral qualifying exam.

BIOEN 5250 Biomechanics II 3 Credits
BIOEN 6480 Biomechanics Research (3x) 1 Credit
BIOEN 7210 Computational Biomechanics 3 Credits
*If students are not already familiar with the material covered in Biomechanics I from their undergraduate studies, they will be required to audit BIOEN 4250 (Biomechanics I) prior to enrolling in BIOEN 5250 (Biomechanics II)

Biomechanics Track Elective Courses

The course selection that will be appropriate for each student in the Biomechanics track will depend on the specific research project in which the student participates. It will be especially important to choose courses that provide both the scientific background and the technical skills required to carry out this research.
A typical set of elective courses would include approximately six specialized courses in addition to the Biomechanics Core Courses. Some example courses that have been included in the Programs of Study of PhD students in the Biomechanics Track are provided below, organized by the parent department. The specific set of courses, over and above the Biomechanics Core Courses, should be selected on an individual basis to maximize expertise in the area most closely related to the student's area of research.

Department of Bioengineering

BIOEN 6002, Molecular Biophysics
BIOEN 6303, Cell and Tissue Engineering: Stem Cells in Tissue Engineering
BIOEN 6304, Introduction to Polymers and Biopolymers
BIOEN 6305, Cell and Tissue Engineering
BIOEN 6401, Medical Imaging Systems
BIOEN 6500, Mathematics of Imaging
BIOEN 6702, Introduction to Image-based Modeling
BIOEN 6760, Modeling and Analysis of Biological Networks

School of Computing

CS 6210, Advanced Scientific Computing I
CS 6962, Programming for Engineers

Department of Mathematics

MATH 5610, Introduction to Numerical Analysis I
MATH 5620, Introduction to Numerical Analysis II
MATH 6420, Partial Differential Equations
MATH 6610, Analysis of Numerical Methods I
MATH 6620, Analysis of Numerical Methods II
MATH 6830, Mathematical Biology I

Department of Mechanical Engineering

ME EN 6510, Introduction to Finite Elements
ME EN 6520, Introduction to Continuum Mechanics
ME EN 6700, Intermediate Fluid Dynamics
ME EN 6720, Computational Fluid Dynamics
ME EN 7540, Advanced Finite Elements
ME EN 7525, Inelasticity


Questions regarding the Biomechanics track should be directed to Dr. Jeffrey A. Weiss