Dr. Emily McCain has been awarded the 2021 NC State University College of Engineering Doctoral Scholar of the Year. This award recognizes a student’s overall achievements in research, teaching, outreach, citizenship, leadership, and recruiting. Dr. McCain states “I’m incredibly grateful for this award which could not be achieved without the indefatigable support of my advisor Dr. Katherine Saul and the advice and support of Dr. Gregory Sawicki and Dr. Michael Lewek, and their inspiring commitment to their work and their students.”
Dr. Emily McCain’s doctoral research focused on the consequences of neuromuscular (e.g. stroke) and orthopaedic (e.g. arthritis or amputation) impairments on walking. Following these extremely prevalent conditions, many affected individuals walk asymmetrically, more slowly, and with increased metabolic energy requirements, which leads to reduced mobility, long-term joint pain, and lower quality of life. Many current rehabilitation strategies or assistive devices such as prostheses or exoskeletons attempt to restore normal gait by encouraging patients to walk symmetrically and by using assistive devices to restore power to weak joints, with mixed results. To improve these techniques, she sought to better understand how exactly the altered mechanics of the injured limb leads to less efficient gait and detrimental joint loads. Dr. McCain’s research was supported by her advisor, Dr. Katherine Saul, as well as close collaborators and mentors, Dr. Gregory Sawicki and Dr. Michael Lewek.
Dr. McCain received her BS, MS, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the MAE Department at NCState. Her work was supported by the Lord Fellowship and the prestigious NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F31). Her doctoral research resulted in 3 first-author journal publications, 1 first-author manuscript in preparation, as well as 2 additional co-authored publications on which she played critical roles. In addition, her work has been selected for podium presentations at the 2018 and 2020 American Society of Biomechanics conferences, poster presentations in 2017 and 2019, and she was a finalist for the ASB Doctoral competition in 2018 and for the three-minute thesis competition in 2020. After defending her PhD in June of 2021, Dr. McCain accepted a position in the Military Performance Laboratory, at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, Texas.