Grove City student to research robotic prosthetics at Vanderbilt

Ellen Turner ’17, a mechanical engineering student at Grove City College, landed a competitive summer research position in robotic prosthetics at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

Turner, of Lock Haven, Pa., will be working alongside other undergraduate and graduate researchers to test prototypes for a prosthetic foot and work on different exoskeletons.

It will be Turner’s second summer at a prestigious research institution. Last year, supported by a Swezey Fellowhip from the College, she worked at Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution with Dr. Erik Anderson, professor of mechanical engineering at Grove City College. Turner also works with Anderson in his biomechanics lab on campus, analyzing the movement of striped and largemouth bass.

Anderson said the research students do with their professors at the College gives them a leg up when it comes to securing summer research jobs that are critical to graduate school placement.

“Ellen told me that her previous research with me at Grove City and Woods Hole had a significant impact on what her interviewers thought about her suitability for the research position. This proves that Grove City College science students compete at the highest levels for positions in scientific research and that student/faculty research is critical to the success of our students,” he said.

“I found a passion for research when I joined Dr. Anderson’s lab at Grove City in my sophomore year,” Turner said. Last summer’s stint at Woods Hole “solidified” her decision to continue research and pursue a Ph.D. after graduation. She wants to focus on human biomechanics and the development of robotic prosthetics, she said.

As an undergraduate researcher at Vanderbilt, Turner will be responsible for a project that incorporates ultrasound imaging and other human motion analysis systems – such as a force treadmill and muscle sensors – to better understand muscle and tendon dynamics during movement. Vanderbilt is one of the nation’s top research schools and is ranked 15th in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

“Grove City College has given me the experience and understanding I needed to be qualified for this position. Hopefully, the summer research experience at Vanderbilt will be the basis for the work I will do in my graduate career,” Turner said.

For more information on Grove City College’s Mechanical Engineering Department: www.gcc.edu/mece.

Grove City student to research robotic prosthetics at Vanderbilt

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