Dhobale++, A. V., Adewole, D. O., Chan, A. H. W., Marinov++, T., Serruya, M. D., Kraft, R.H. (Co-senior author) & Cullen, D.K. (Co-senior author), Assessing functional connectivity across three-dimensional tissue-engineered axonal tracts using calcium fluorescence imaging. Journal of Neural Engineering. Link

Humans in Extreme Environments

Extreme environments or loading include space, vehicular accidents, explosions, impacts in sports, falls, thermal fatigue and sometimes even medical procedures. This area focuses on basic research in computational biomechanics to explore new numerical methods and investigations of injury mechanisms that may result from extreme loading conditions. We are exploring multiscale approaches that capture full body biodynamics extending to multiple length and time scales with much interest in how microstuctural aspects influence macroscopic behavior. There is an emphasis on the development and integration of coupled multiphysics including thermal, mechanical and electromagnetic effects into the solution of problems. Also of interest are numerical techniques for modeling the high strain rate deformation of soft tissue, bone fracture, fluid-structure interaction, fragmentation, shock physics and other transient dynamics. There is also an interest in optimizing parallelization and solver routines and algorithms that can help deal with the complex geometry required when modeling biological materials.

Particle Methods

The motivation for this work is to create the ability to use meshless, particle-based approaches in the simulation of shock physics problems for soft and biological materials. Traditional finite element based techniques can sometimes fail in this problem domain due to the high amounts of deformation and failure than can occur during these high rates of loading.

Wet Lab

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High Performance Clusters

The Institute for CyberScience provides high-performance computing solutions through the Advanced CyberInfrastructure (ICS-ACI) system. ICS-ACI is Penn State’s high-performance research cloud. The ICS-ACI cyberinfrastructure, which supports Penn State research computing, is also located at the University Park Campus, within a state-of-the-art data center. This data center provides 2.4MW of redundant power and 12,000 square feet of environmentally controlled space for our hardware. Approximately 50 percent of the facility’s power and equipment resources are dedicated to supporting the ICS-ACI system infrastructure. ICS-ACI operates more than 23,000 Basic, Standard and High Memory cores to support Penn State research. The system provides dual 10- or 12-core Xeon E5-2680 processors for Basic and Standard memory configurations and quad 10-core Xeon E7-4830 processors for High Memory configurations.

Spine Biomechanics

Working to understand mechanisms and micromechanics from dynamic loading...

  • Spine Modeling in Hierarchy

In the civilian population, the estimate of people living with a SCI has grown to more than 2 million people worldwide. In both the military and civilian populations, rescue and medical transport play a critical role in long-term outcome. Unfortunately, it is estimated that up to 25% of SCI may occur after the initial insult, either during transit or early in the course of medical treatment. During evacuation the goal is to provide an environment for stable and painless transport that enables optimal neurologic recovery. Air transport, one aspect of civilian and military medical evacuations, is a harsh environment and there has been limited research concerning the effects of aircraft vibration and gravitation on long-term SCI recovery. Understanding all the effects requires multidisciplinary knowledge of the mechanisms of injury, physiology, biomechanics of the spine and the extrinsic operational environment. Furthermore, spinal cord injury and recovery are related to cellular processes which lead us to the question: Do vibrational and gravitational forces during medical transport get translated to cellular damage within the spinal cord? Cellular pathophysiology has provided considerable evidence that microstructural abnormality of white matter integrity in SCI is linked with clinical outcomes. Therefore, our objective is to develop a multiscale model of spinal cord injury that can explicitly predict white matter disruption that can then be used to discover the microstructural effects of immobilization, gravitation and vibrational forces on SCI experienced during medical transport.


Linking genetics with continuum mechanics to elucidate mechanisms of cranial growth...

  • Coupled Reaction Diffusion Strain Model

The PSU CBG research extends multiple length and time scales from whole body dynamics to cellular processes. Craniosynostosis is a common and complex craniofacial condition (~4 per 10,000 live births) that imposes a substantial financial and emotional burden on patients and their families. Craniosynostosis is a condition defined by premature closure of cranial vault sutures, which is associated with abnormalities of the brain and skull. Many causal relationships between discovered mutations and premature suture closure have been proposed but an understanding of the precise mechanisms remains elusive. This research develops a computational framework of biological processes underlying cranial growth that will enable a hypothesis driven investigation of craniosynostosis phenotypes using reaction-diffusion model and the finite element method. Primary centers of ossification in cranial vault are identified using an activator-inhibitor model that represents the behavior of key molecules for bone formation. Biomechanical effects due to the interaction between growing bone and soft tissue is investigated to elucidate the mechanism of growth of cranial vault.

Digital Biomarkers

To quantitatively diagnose and predict extent of damage using a combination of wearable sensors and computer models...

  • Digital Biomarker for Brain Injury

Digital biomarkers are defined as physiological and behavioral measures collected through connected digital tools. Since mild traumatic brain injuries or concussions are difficult to quantitatively diagnose, the primary aim is to predict extent of damage using a combination of wearable sensors and computer models.

Brain Modeling

Multiscale, multiphysics simulation of brain physics...

Traumatic brain injury is a debilitating injury and a significant health problem in the
United States that is estimated to occur in 1.6 to 1.8 million people annually. Axonal injury
is a common type of traumatic brain injury primarily characterized by damage to the axons.
Enhanced knowledge of the axonal deformation during a head impact may facilitate a better
understanding of the primary injury mechanism and secondary effects that may lead to functional
deficits and long-term neurodegeneration. This information may also enable the development
of improved diagnostic tools, protective measures, and rehabilitation treatments. A consensus
on the best way to study the axonal injury during the milder forms of traumatic brain injury,
such as concussion, is still lacking. The specific objectives of this study are as follows:
(1) to apply and explore the embedded element method as a viable numerical approach for white
matter modeling in the brain; (2) to implement this approach and examine the axonal strain damage
predicted by the model compared to other existing injury criterion; and (3) to apply this approach and
conduct a quantitative analysis examining the influence of impact direction
and overall axonal orientation on the extent of injury.

All posts

Ranslow, A. N. (Supervised Student Author – Graduate Student), Kraft, R. H., Shannon, R. (Supervised Student Author – Undergraduate Student), De Tomas-Medina, P. (Supervised Student Author – Undergraduate Student), Radovitsky, R., Jean, A., Hautefeuille, M. P., Fagan, B., Ziegler, K. A., Weerasooriya, T., Dileonardi, A. M., Gunnarsson, A., & Satapathy, S. Microstructural analysis of porcine skull bone subjected to impact loading. Volume 3: Biomedical and Biotechnology Engineering, (pp. pp. V003T03A057; 10 pages). American Society of Mechanical Engineers Congress and Explosion. ISBN/ISSN #/Case #/DOI #: doi:10.1115/IMECE2015-51979


Motiwale++, S., Eppler, W., Hollingsworth, D., Hollingsworth, C., Morgenthau, J., & Kraft, R. H. (2016). Application of Neural Networks for Filtering Non-Impact Transients Recorded from Biomechanical Sensors. Proceedings of the IEEE International Conference on Biomedical and Health Informatics. (pp. 204 – 207). DOI #: 10.1109/BHI.2016.7455870. Link


Garimella++, H. T., Yaun++, H., Johnson, B. D., Slobounov, S., & Kraft, R. H. (2015). Anisotropic constitutive model of human brain with intravoxel heterogeneity of fiber orientation using diffusion spectrum imaging (DSI). Volume 3: Biomedical and Biotechnology Engineering, (pp. pp. V003T03A011; 9 pages). Proceedings of the 2014 American Society of Mechanical Engineers Congress and Exposition. DOI #:10.1115/IMECE2014-39107. Link


Fielding++, R. A., Kraft, R. H., Ryan, T. M., & Stecko, T. D. (2014). A micromechanics-based simulation of calcaneus fracture and fragmentation due to impact loading. 11th World Congress on Computational Mechanics (WCCM XI) 5th. European Conference on Computational Mechanics (ECCM V) 6th. European Conference on Computational Fluid Dynamics (ECFD VI). Link


Zhang, J., Merkle, A. C., Carneal, C. M., Armiger, R. S., Kraft, R. H., Ward, E. E., Ott, K. A., Wickwire, A. C., Dooley, C. J., Harrigan, T. P., & Roberts, J. C. (2013). Effects of torso-borne mass and loading severity on early response of the lumbar spine under high-rate vertical loading. 2013 International Research Council on Biomechanics of Injury (IRCOBI) Conference Proceedings. 11-13 September 2013. Gothenburg, Sweden. Link.


Wereszczak, A. A., & Kraft, R. H. (2003). In W. M. Kriven and H. T. Lin (Eds.), Flexural and torsional resonances of ceramic tiles via impulse excitation of vibration. 24(4), (pp. 207-213). 27th Annual Conference on Advanced Ceramics and Composites: B: Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings. ISBN/ISSN #/Case #/DOI #: DOI: 10.1002/9780470294826.ch31


Wereszczak, A. A., & Kraft, R. H. (2002). In H. T. Lin and M. Singh (Eds.), Instrumented Hertzian indentation of armor ceramics. 23(3), (pp. 11). 26th Annual Conference on Composites, Advanced Ceramics, Materials, and Structures: A: Ceramic Engineering and Science Proceedings. ISBN/ISSN #/Case #/DOI #: DOI: 10.1002/9780470294741.ch7.