The success of many engineered systems is dependent on the extent to which they accommodate the needs of users. When safety is a critical consideration, computational human models are used to ensure optimal safety designs. The variability in injury is often caused by the variation of the human bodies among the population. For example, injury data analyses have shown that, among the adult population, small female, elderly, and obese occupants are at increased risk of death and serious injury in motor-vehicle crashes, as compared with mid-sized, young, and male occupants. Unfortunately, the traditional process for developing computational human models for injury assessment primarily focused on three sizes and shapes of human bodies (i.e., small female, midsize male, and large male), and the limited sizes do not account for the morphological variations in skeleton, internal organs, and external body shape outside of the three anthropometric categories.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI) have been improving accident impact simulations by broadening the types of body sizes and shapes considered. Our parametric human modeling allows the size and shape of a baseline human model to be rapidly varied based on age, sex, stature, weight, or other anthropometric variables. This method provides the foundation for impact simulations of humans with a wide range of body sizes and shapes.

The overall research goal is to develop the next generation of parametric human body models representing the whole population. Such models will enable population-based or individualized simulations, which will serve for adaptive/personalized designs for human safety, such as adaptive vehicle seatbelt and airbag, personalized helmets and other safety devices and sport equipment.

Students ranging from 1st year to graduate level are welcome to apply, and all will be encouraged to stay on the team for more than the two-semester minimum. Leadership roles are available in the lab, and experienced students will be a natural fit for these positions as their knowledge and skills develop over time. The team currently has the following ongoing projects:

Parametric head model to predict traumatic brain injury and concussion

This project is to develop parametric scalp, skull and brain models to investigate whether gender, head size, and head shape affect the risk of traumatic brain injury.

Parametric model for children to predict injuries in pediatric falls and child abuse cases

This project is to develop pediatric head models to represent head morphology over a wide age range. The head model will be extended to whole-body models, which will serve as an objective tool to differentiate between injuries from pediatric falls and child abuse.

Body composition prediction for subject-specific models

Current injury assessment tools (i.e. crash test dummies and human models) only represent a few sizes of healthy human subjects but do not consider morphological and biomechanical variations among the population. This project seeks to predict body composition by region (fat, muscle, bone, other) as a function of subject covariates and external body shape.

Parametric whole-body model for occupant protection in motor vehicle crashes

This project is to develop full body human models with a wide range of sizes and shapes. These models will be used for vehicle safety designs to better protect various vulnerable populations, such as the elderly or obese.

NOTE: Students who join this research team will become de facto members of UMTRI Biosciences group and will complete the following developmental items as part of the team requirements. PEERRS training must be completed early in joining the team.

Meeting time and location:

For academic credit, our MDP course is classified as a hybrid course but will mainly meet remotely, following university public health informed guidelines. In the past, our team has typically met at 4:00-6:00pm on Mondays at the 1st floor McComick Conference Room at UMTRI, but a best time will be finalized for each subteam to meet via BlueJeans video conference (distance synchronous communication) for this semester. A two-term commitment will begin January 2021.

Team organization:

Each subteam has a team leader that reports to and meets with the faculty PI. The teams are flexibly structured to enhance creativity and opportunity for student growth.

More information

First-year undergraduates through masters graduate students are welcome to apply, and all will be encouraged to stay on the team for more than the two-semester minimum. Leadership roles are available in the lab, and experienced students will be a natural fit for these positions as their knowledge grows over time.

Medical Image Analysis (4 Students)

Preferred Skills: Process and landmark medical images (CT, MRI scans) using image processing software to quantify the 3D geometries of human skeleton and internal organs

Likely Majors: Engineering (industrial, biomedical, mechanical), kinesiology, biological sciences and/or pre-medical

Data Analysis and Mesh Morphing (4 Students)

Preferred Skills: Use Matlab or other programming tools to build statistical models of human geometry, and conduct mesh morphing to change a baseline model into personalized geometry targets

Likely Majors: Engineering (industrial, biomedical, mechanical), kinesiology, biological sciences and/or pre-medical

Finite Element Simulations (4 Students)

Preferred Skills: Conduct finite element simulations to quantify the effects from human morphology on injury outcomes

Likely Majors: Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering

Apprentice Researcher (6 Students)

Preferred Skills: Interest in project material, willingness to develop skills. Open to First-year and Second-year undergrad students ONLY

Likely Majors: Any

Faculty Sponsor

Monica Jones, Ph.D.

Monica Jones is an Assistant Research Scientist in UMTRI’s Biosciences Group. Dr. Jones’s has a diverse background in engineering applications of physical ergonomics, anthropometry, and biomechanics that is motivated by eight years of practice as an industrial engineer. Her current research focuses on occupant accommodation and safety in vehicles, occupant anthropometry and ergonomics for vehicle design. Vulnerable populations, including child passengers and obese occupants, are a major focus.

Recently, she has developed experimental platforms to enable the objective characterization of occupants’ psychophysical, kinematic and physiological response in a passenger vehicle. She is also interested in physical ergonomic assessment of workplace design and developing posture and motion simulation algorithms for digital human figure modeling software used for industrial ergonomics and military applications.

Students: 12-22

Likely Majors: ME, BME, IOE, Kinesiology, Biological sciences, pre-medical, Any

Summer Opportunity: Summer research fellowships may be available for qualifying students.

Citizenship Requirements: This project is open to all students on campus.

IP: Students who successfully match to this project team will be required to sign an Intellectual Property (IP) Agreement prior to participation in January 2021.

Course Substitutions: Honors