Uploaded by givingtostanford on 26.07.2012

I'm Melinda Cromie.
I'm a PhD student in mechanical engineering at Stanford
My work here is supported by the Stanford Interdisciplinary
Graduate Fellowship, and what that means is that I have the
freedom to explore a problem that's really at the
intersection of muscle mechanics, muscle biology, and
developments in optics and optical microscopy.
The problem that I'm focusing on is looking at sarcomeres,
which are the tiniest contractile elements of skeletal
The Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship Program
awards three year doctoral fellowships to some of our most
talented graduate students.
They're pursuing research that transcends traditional
disciplinary boundaries.
One of these students, Melinda Cromie, is doing path
breaking research.
She's developing a bio-mechanical approach to the study of
She's creating a pioneering technology that draws concepts
and methodologies from a range of disciplines.
This is the set-up that I use to study sarcomeres in human
If your muscle were the size of a football field a sarcomere
would be a single blade of grass in the football field.
The real clinical driver for why we're studying these is to
get a better understanding of motor control diseases.
So these are things like stroke and cerebral palsy, among
others, where someone is stuck in a certain position.
In these diseases there's a loss of the range of motion, and
the range of motion is controlled by sarcomeres extending
and contracting.
So what we've made is a motorized arm brace that will start
with the wrist in an extended position, and then move it,
with the motor, down slowly into a flexed position.
And then I'll be able to image how the sarcomeres are
changing over that range of motion.
And then this will also help us to guide the treatment of
this disease and give us an evaluation for, perhaps,
emerging drug treatments or therapies that could be used in
these patients.
I am very passionate about my research.
I love combining the mathematical techniques and the
experimental techniques from my engineering background to
problems in the biological world, and I also enjoy sharing
those new things I'm learning with students, and inspiring
them to be interested in science and the positive impacts
that science can have on the world.