Human Movement Science

JOSEPH B. MYERS, Curriculum Director


Carol A. Giuliani, Neural Basis of Motor Control, Disability in Aging, Stroke Recovery, Movement Analysis

Edward Grant, Robotics, Biomedical Systems, Neural Networks, Biomedical Sensors, and Medical Devices

Michael T. Gross, Biomechanics, Sports Medicine, Orthopedics, Orthotics

Kevin M. Guskiewicz, Athletic Training, Sports Medicine, Mild Head Injury

Anthony C. Hackney, Exercise Physiology, Metabolism, Endocrinology

Henry S. Hsiao, Medical Instrumentation, Interfacing Microprocessors to Physiological Transducers, Telemedicine

Michael Y. Lee, Neurological Rehabilitation, Clinical Neurophysiology, Acupuncture

Karen McCulloch, Balance Control in Neurologic Populations, Intervention in Stroke and Brain Injury, Cognitive Processes

Frederick O. Mueller, Epidemiology of Athletic Injuries, Administration, Sports Medicine

Darin Padua, Biomechanics and Sports Medicine, Knee Injury Prevention

William E. Prentice, Athletic Training, Sports Medicine

Richard Segal, Role of Spinal Circuits and Supraspinal Systems during Upper Limb Movement and Walking, Neuro Plasticity of Spinal Circuits

Bing Yu, Biomechanics, Rehabilitation, Movement Analysis, Biomechanical Modeling

Associate Professors

Claudio Battaglini, Management of Cancer Treatment-Related Symptoms, Prescriptive Exercise Intervention

J. Troy Blackburn, Neuromuscular Function and Motor Control, Knee Injury Prevention

Diane Groff, Recreational Therapy, Management of Cancer Treatment-Related Symptoms

Bonita Marks, Exercise Physiology, Aging, Physical Activity and Health

Steve Marshall, Injury Epidemiology, Occupational Epidemiology, Methodology

Vicki S. Mercer, Motor Control, Motor Learning, Posture and Balance across the Lifespan, Stroke Recovery

Miriam Morey, Exercise Physiology, Epidemiology, Aging and Exercise, Physical Activity and Health

Joseph Myers, Sports Medicine, Upper Extremity Orthopedics

Debbie E. Thorpe, Pediatrics, Motor Learning, Developmental Disabilities across the Lifespan, Aquatics

Paul S. Weinhold, Biomechanics of Repetitive Motion Injury, Tissue Engineering

Assistant Professors

Janet K. Freburger, Health Sciences Research, Research Design, Biomechanics, Orthopedics

Michael Lewek, Aging and Function, Biomechanics

Jason Mihalik, Sports Medicine, Mild Head Injury

Eric Ryan, Exercise Physiology, Acute and Chronic Influences of Exercise, Nutritional Supplementation, and Aging on Neuromuscular Function

Abbie Smith-Ryan, Exercise Physiology, Exercise and Nutrition Interventions, Body Composition, Cardiovascular and Metabolic Function

Robin Queen, Biomechanics, Orthopedics, Sport Injury

Program Description: Doctor of Philosophy

The Department of Allied Health Sciences in the School of Medicine offers an interdisciplinary program of study in human movement science leading to the doctor of philosophy degree. The intent of this program is to develop research and teaching scholars who are capable of producing and disseminating new knowledge in the field of human movement science.

The doctoral program in human movement science is offered with the cooperative effort of the following departments/divisions at UNC–Chapel Hill: Physical Therapy, Exercise and Sport Science, Biomedical Engineering, Orthopedics, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and the Program on Aging. This program is designed to provide students an opportunity for doctoral study in areas that will increase our knowledge of human movement performance. The program focuses on contributing to the scientific basis of human movement, developing theory and methods for maintaining health, preventing disability, and improving movement ability. Focusing on normal movement and movement disability requires a special emphasis in research and education that draws upon yet differs from the focus of related sciences. Students of varied academic disciplines are accepted into the program. Students choose one of three tracks as a focus for their course work and research experiences:

• Biomechanics of human movement, including musculoskeletal mechanics and external mechanical constraints

• Exercise physiology of human movement, including exercise response and training in special populations

• Behavioral learning of human movement including neuromuscular control and motor learning.

(The Division of Physical Therapy retired the M.S. in human movement science degree, so applicants are no longer being accepted for the M.S. as a terminal degree. Bachelor's level applicants will be considered, given appropriate background and experience in movement science research.)

Program Requirements

The curriculum core requirements allow flexibility in designing programs of study to meet the needs of each track and the student's interests. Other specific requirements will vary depending on the student's background and program track. Each student's program of study is developed under the guidance of his or her advisor and committee. Among these requirements are the core courses HMSC 700, 701, 702 Scientific Basis of Human Movement (nine credits). Degree requirements also include a first year review, a doctoral written exam, a preliminary oral exam, a dissertation defense, and a written dissertation. Other specific requirements will vary depending on the student's background and program track.

Research Facilities

Several research facilities are available for students in the departments participating in the program. These include the Orthopedic Biomechanics Laboratory in the Department of Orthopedics; the Motion Analysis, Interdisciplinary Human Movement, and Neural Plasticity Laboratories in the Division of Physical Therapy's Center for Human Movement Science; and the Applied Physiology, Cadaver/Anatomy, Neuromuscular, Matthew Gfeller Center for Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, and Sports Medicine Laboratories in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science. These laboratories are equipped with state-of-the-art instruments for measuring a wide range of human movement and performance, which includes behavioral, physiological, biomechanical, and computer modeling.


Student selection is based primarily on academic records and research experience. Requirements include the following:

• A master's degree in a field related to human movement is preferred, but qualified candidates with a bachelor's degree will be considered for admission. (e.g., physical therapy, exercise science, athletic training, biomedical engineering, anatomy, etc).

• A grade point average of 3.0 or better in the last two years of the student's most recent degree program. A typical student who is admitted has a 3.4 GPA or better.

• GRE scores in the 50th percentile or higher. Only official scores submitted from ETS will be accepted. In rare cases, admission is granted when scores are below the 50th percentile.

• Course work in the following areas, completed within the past five years, is a prerequisite for admission. Completion of course work in these areas longer than five years ago may require completion of an admissions examination.

• Introductory graduate-level statistics

• Human anatomy

• Human physiology

• Physics

• Chemistry

• Psychology

Because of the varied backgrounds of applicants, decisions on additional prerequisite preparation for each student will be decided by the Graduate Education Committee.

• Three letters of academic recommendation

• Curriculum vitae

• Written statement of the academic/career goals and research interests

• Applicants should indicate the name of the faculty member who has agreed to mentor them

• Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact a faculty member in their area of interest


Course work appropriate for the student's area of interest may be taken from a wide range of departments. The programs listed here are examples, but are not meant to be inclusive. (Please refer to departmental listings for full course descriptions.)

BMME (Biomedical Engineering)

450 Linear Control Theory (4).

510 Biomaterials (3).

520 Fundamentals of Materials Engineering (3).

530 Digital Signal Processing I (3).

565 Biomedical Instrumentation I (4).

580 Microcontroller Applications I (3).

705 Biomaterials Instrumentation (3).

750 Digital Control Theory (3).

EXSS (Exercise and Sport Science)

730 Management of Athletic Injuries (3).

732 Human Anatomy (4).

735 Sports Medicine Analysis: Special Problems Related to Sports Medicine (3).

739 Practicum in Athletic Training (3).

742 Social Issues in Exercise and Sport (3).

780 Physiology of Exercise (3).

781 Clinical Exercise Prescription and Testing (2–3).

782 Nutritional Aspects of Exercise (2–3).

783 Assessment of Physiological Functions in Exercise (3).

785 Seminar in Exercise Physiology (3).

890 Special Topics in Exercise and Sport Science (1–3).

990 Research in Exercise and Sport Science (1–3).

Courses for Graduate Students


700 Scientific Basis of Human Motion (3).

701 Scientific Basis of Human Motion (3).

702 Physiology of Exercise (3).

710 Muscle Mechanics and Electromyographic Kinesiology (2–4).

743 Topics in Motor Control and Motor Learning: Therapeutic
Implications (3).

770 Electronics for Human Movement Science (1–21).

780 Introduction to Outcomes Research in Health Care (3).

782 Infant and Family Assessment (2–3).

782L Laboratory in Infant and Family Assessment (0.5–21).

790 Advanced Kinesiology and Biomechanics (4).

791 Analysis of Human Motion (3).

793 Advanced Ortho Assessment (4).

795 Human Kinetics (4).

801 Seminar in Human Movement Science (2).

803 Problems in Human Movement Science (1–3).

811 Basic Aspects of Aging (MEDI 486) (AHSC 411).

877 Independent Study in Human Movement Science (1–21).

879 Research in Human Movement Science (1–21).

881 The Neural Basis of Motor Control (3).

885 Beach Course (1–3). Human movement seminar held at the beach.

886 Understanding Research (3).

887 Developmental Motor Control (1–3).

904I Aging and Health (DENT 604I , EPID 620I, MEDI 604I, NURS 782I, PHCY 604I, PHYT 904I, PSYC 904I, SOCI 824, SOWO 604I) (3). See SOWO 604I for description.

911I Movement and Balance in Aging (3).

951I Aging and Public Policy (DENT 607I, FMME 607I, HPM 961I, MEDI 607I, NURS 783I, PHCY 607I, PSYC 907I, SOWO 607I) (3). See SOWO 607I for description.

993 Master's Thesis (3–6).

Courses for Graduate Students

IHMS (Interdisciplinary Human Movement Science)

850 Issues in Motor Control and Motor Learning (2).

870 Doctoral Development Seminar (1).

994 Doctoral Dissertation (3–9).