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Jeffrey Reinbolt Receives Teaching Award

External funding support

  • NSF General & Age Related Disabilities Engineering (GARDE) CAREER Award
  • NIH National Center for Simulation in Rehabilitation Research (NCSRR)
  • NIH National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
  • NIH Center for Physics-Based Simulation of Biological Structures (Simbios)
  • HRL Laboratories, LLC
  • Honda Research Institute USA

Recently, Jeffrey A. Reinbolt, assistant professor in biomedical engineering, was presented with a 2013 Chancellor’s Excellence in Teaching Award. This award was given to four UT faculty members exhibiting outstanding teaching techniques. Reinbolt believes he won this award because he is very open with every student and intentionally engages with every student. He uses traditional lecture material, but makes the short time he has with the students very interactive. “Granted this interaction is difficult in larger classes, say 50 or more students, but the overall expectations I have for each student are extremely high whether in a small or large class,” Reinbolt said.

Kristin Morgan, UT biomedical engineering graduate student working under Reinbolt, notes that Reinbolt wants his students to love engineering as much as he does. “The last three years of working with Reinbolt have been those of constant learning and growth. Every day I have been able to learn something new while being afforded some rather unique research experiences and opportunities that I have been able to pursue with the support of Dr. Reinbolt.”

Dr. Jeffrey A. Reinbolt Teaching

Dr. Jeffrey A. Reinbolt with student.

Winning this award does not change much for Reinbolt in terms of his teaching approach, but it does mean a lot to him because his peers, administrators, and others see that teaching is very important to him. “While externally funded research dollars allow the budget to be balanced, the unbalanced time spent teaching and advising has a much larger impact on the students, but is less well recognized,” he said. “The Chancellor’s Excellence awards are a truly refreshing mechanism to recognize this type of work.”

In connection with being honored for teaching, Reinbolt also received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) General and Age Related Disabilities Engineering program for his proposal titled: “CAREER: Research and Education on Control of Human Movement.” This program supports research leading to the development of new technologies, devices, or software for persons with disabilities. Dr. Reinbolt feels very fortunate and blessed to have received the CAREER award. This award is the NSF’s most prestigious honor for junior faculty who demonstrate outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

The CAREER project seeks to integrate research and education to understand human movement control through a design, control, and simulation environment. It is based on a scientific framework, combining simulations with experiments, that is necessary to uncover unrecognized principles governing muscle coordination of abnormal human movement, such as post-stroke gait limitations. Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability in the nation, and patients are commonly left with sensorimotor deficiencies and reduced mobility. To help patients move better, the research activities will enable scientific tools and simulations to investigate rehabilitations that minimize patient-specific gait limitations and improve patients’ quality of life following stroke.

Reinbolt said the long-term, five-year goal of this CAREER project is to set his research group apart in studying human movement control by significantly advancing discovery beyond the frontiers of current knowledge in disability-related research. In addition, the project will develop a curriculum and outreach to teach others important concepts of human movement. The fundamental teaching goal is to leverage the research activities into synergistic educational activities so that both aspects are enhanced to gain insights into principles that govern human movement.

The award has been funded for just a few months and Reinbolt notes that his research group has made significant progress toward the project’s specific aims. The group is working on generating optimization tools to personalize a generic model by adjusting muscle-tendon and body segment lengths, joint definitions, and mass properties to match a subject’s experimental data and physical information. The group has also started a new phase of the project’s educational plan, and has begun working with Pre-Collegiate Research Scholars through a program at the UT College of Engineering to enable rising high school seniors to experience hands-on discovery by working with a faculty mentor on a project.

It means a great deal to Reinbolt to have won the CAREER award. “This award is a major milestone in my academic career and I anticipate it will lead to others in the future,” he said. The project activities are in line with Reinbolts goals and responsibilities to develop externally funded research projects and initiate innovative educational projects. “Personally, I feel uniquely positioned to become a leader in the use of patient-specific simulations to improve not only treatment of movement disorders, but interactions between people and the environment as well,” Reinbolt said.

For more information on Reinbolt’s research, please visit rrg.utk.edu.

 

Written By: Jenna E. McVey

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