Virtual SheTech

PhD candidate Dorothy Taylor and MS Student, Dorien Butter prepared a virtual workshop and introduction to “Our Bodies as Machines” in this year’s SheTech virtual summit (

1U4U – Merryweather Teams Up with Colleagues

Alex Greenwald, an assistant professor of anthropology and curator of ethnography at the Natural History Museum of Utah put together a cross-campus team that will study the biomechanics of ancient runners using prehistoric footwear and experimental work. Volunteers will run on treadmills wearing sandals made of yucca fibers that replicate the footwear housed at the museum of natural history to generate predictions of use wear associated with running and walking.

Greenwald’s team includes Andrew Anderson, from the School of Medicine; David Carrier, from the College of Science; and Andrew Merryweather, from the College of Engineering. They will recreate the biomechanics of ancient human runners, in part, to better understand the prevalence of running among the ancestors of Diné and Puebloan peoples—both Native American populations in the southwestern United States.

Cross-campus teams build OneU research collaborations


Students at Engineering Day Excited about Ergonomics

Dr. Merryweather and PhD Candidate Mohammad Homayounpour presented an overview of research in the Ergonomics and Safety Lab during the annual College of Engineering’s Engineering Day. Nearly 60 high school students and their families learned about ergonomics and participated in lab demonstrations for motion capture, balance, force generation and EMG. Here’s what some of our visitors were saying:

Homayounpour makes “Impact” at HFES 2019

PhD student Mohammad Homayounpour presented his work on directional warnings and head kinematics on October 30, 2019 at the 63rd Annual HFES meeting in Seattle, WA ( His work highlights the values of preparing for impact through postural changes and muscle clenching to reduce head kinematics that have been linked to concussion risk. This is part of a large project funded by NSF to create smart helmets to reduce concussion risk to athletes playing contact sports. For more information, please refer to the conference paper found here.

E&S Program Paper Accepted for IROS 2018 (International Conference on Intelligent Robots, Madrid, ES)

A paper, from the Ergonomics & Safety Program, has been accepted for the 2018 International Conference on Intelligent Robots (IROS 2018) entitled Dynamics Model Learning and Manipulation Planning for Objects in Hospitals Using a Patient Assistant Mobile (PAM) Robot, by Roya Sabbagh Novin, Amir Yazdani, Tucker Hermans, and Andrew Merryweather.  This conference will be held in Madrid, Spain on October 1-5, 2018.


One of the most concerning and high-cost problems in hospitals is patients falls. We address this problem by introducing PAM, a patient assistant mobile robot that delivers a mobility aid and helps with fall prevention. Common objects found in indoor environments such as hospitals include objects with legs (i.e. walkers, tables, chairs, equipment stands). For a mobile robot operating in such environments, safely maneuvering these objects without collision is essential. Since providing the robot with dynamic models of all possible legged objects that may exist in such environments is not feasible, learning models that can be used in manipulation planning that estimate an object’s dynamics is useful. We describe a probabilistic method for this by fitting pre-categorized object models learned from minimal force and motion interactions with an object. The multiple options for grasping legs requires a control system comprised by a hybrid of discrete grasping legs and continuous applied forces. To do this, a model of a simple one-wheel point-mass is used. A hybrid MPC-based manipulation planning algorithm was developed to compensate for modeling errors. While the proposed algorithm is developed for a wider range of legged objects, we will focus on the case of a 2-wheel walker in this paper. Simulation and experimental tests show that the obtained dynamic model is sufficiently accurate for safe and collision-free manipulation. When combined with the proposed manipulation planning algorithm, the robot can successfully move the object to a desired position.

Roya Sabbagh Novin & Amir Yazdani: Recipients of 2018 ASSP Foundation Scholarships


Ms. Roya Sabbagh Novin and Mr. Amir Yazdani, two doctoral students in the Ergonomics & Safety Program, have been awarded 2018 ASSP Foundation Scholarship, Utah Chapter.

Since 1990, the ASSP Foundation has awarded more than $3 million in scholarships and professional education grants to students beginning their studies in occupational safety and professionals seeking to continue their education. ASSP offers nearly 150 awards each year ranging from $500 to $15,000 each. More than 1,300 safety students and professionals have advanced their careers, thanks to the generosity of the safety community and ASSP.