Spring Break 2017

It’s been a crazy few weeks. We had two deadlines due the Friday of Spring Break, which as we all know in grad school is a productive time to get work done without the undergrads being around. Needless to say, it was a bit hectic!

The first of these deadlines was the American Society of Biomechanics conference abstract submission deadline. My advisor and I have been working on creating a new method to compute Achilles tendon moment arm in vivo, using motion capture and ultrasound (I’ll talk about this in a future post) and by Monday of Spring Break we were ready to start collecting data. I had received IRB approval a week prior, and so was able to test the first of my subjects. Over two days, I ended up collecting data from 8 people. Post-processing the data was a multi-stage process.

Step one involved going over the motion capture data in Cortex, labeling markers, and trimming the motion capture so it was synchronized to the start and end of the ultrasound data. While this sounds simple enough, I hadn’t used the post-processing tools in Cortex before so Monday and Tuesday nights were spent learning the software and labeling my trials. I had 6 dynamic trials plus a static and calibration trial for each participant. Lots of labeling!!

Step two took the .trc files from the labeled Cortex data and imported them into Matlab. I then digitized points from the ultrasound and ran the data through some custom-written scripts. As is always the case, my code needed editing as the results I was getting were a little bit ludicrous (70 cm moment arm?!). Eventually, we fixed it and we got some exciting results. The abstract was written by 6pm Friday evening and I was excited to sit back and relax for the weekend.

On Tuesday of this week, Snowstorm Stella hit State College and we got a rare snowday. While knee-deep in grading and doing all the jobs I’d postponed during deadline season (including tackling American tax returns for the first time), my email pinged. It was an acceptance to my first conference – ISBS in Cologne, Germany. I can’t tell you how excited I was. Of course, a flurry of activity ensued – applying for travel grants, editing the abstract in response to the reviewers comments, figuring out timing and costs and all the logistics that come with conference acceptances.

That’s a quick catch up of the craziness of Spring Break and the following 5 days. I’m hoping to update the blog shortly with some more detailed posts, and some interesting talks I’ve sat in over the past month or so. For now though, it’s time to get back to grading…