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SPUR 2023: Foot and Ankle Mechanics of Patients with Cerebral Palsy and Flatfoot


Faculty Mentor: Amy Lenz
Title: Research Instructor
College: Medicine
School / Department: Orthopaedics

Project description

**This project is a part of the Summer Program for Undergraduate Research (SPUR), which provides undergraduate students with an intensive 10-week research experience under the mentorship of a University of Utah faculty member. SPUR 2023 begins on May 24 and ends on August 3. If you are interested in this project, please review all program information on the SPUR site. **

Foot and ankle function is a complex kinematic system that requires advanced medical imaging to evaluate the movement of each bone independent of skin motion. Furthermore, when patients present with foot deformities and pathologies, detailed investigation of what is causing foot function decline is critical for improved clinical care. Even further complications arise when patients have neuromuscular impairment such as cerebral palsy. The objective of this project is to evaluate foot and ankle function with biplane fluoroscopy (i.e. Video x-ray) to measure in vivo kinematics of patients with cerebral palsy following a foot reconstruction surgery. This research will guide surgeons on the long-term outcomes of foot reconstruction surgery in patients with cerebral palsy.

Student Role: Dr. Lenz is a Research Instructor in the Department of Orthopaedics. She is an expert in foot and ankle medical imaging and computational modeling. The undergraduate student on this project will be mentored directly by Dr. Lenz and work closely with the members of the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory Lenz Research Group. The undergraduate will be part of each portion of this study, from interacting with patients in our University Orthopaedic Center, to learning how to process image data, to working with Dr. Lenz's graduate student to develop and interpret foot and ankle motion. The student will be responsible for preparing image data files to process in vivo kinematics. The student will be encouraged to perform a literature review at the beginning of the summer to understand the scope, relevance and clinical motivation for the research to be completed. In Dr. Lenz's lab, undergraduate students have an excellent history of earning co-authorship on published manuscripts. Therefore, discussions and expectations for consideration as a co-author will be clearly outlined at the beginning of the summer semester. Students in Dr. Lenz's lab are also typically given the opportunity to shadow surgeons in the OR, clinic and participate in research meetings with the foot and ankle surgeon collaborators. Overall, it is Dr. Lenz's goal to provide a comprehensive research experience by providing many learning opportunities while setting tangible goals to complete the proposed research.
Student Benefits: At the completion of the SPUR program, the student will have a comprehensive experience of conducting foot and ankle orthopaedic biomechanics research with a focus on patient interactions and evaluation of human movement. Students seeking a future career as an engineering graduate student (biomedical or mechanical) or professional clinical degree (MD, DO, PA, or PT) will gain valuable experiences to prepare them for the next step in their professional and academic careers. As previously mentioned, co-authorship on the project will be considered and clear expectations will be outlined. Furthermore, students wishing to pursue any of the above mentioned post-undergraduate career options will have resources and colleagues in the department to discuss options and seek additional mentorship from outside of the immediate Lenz Research Group.
Project Duration: 35-40 hours per week on research and program-related activities, begins May 24, 2023, and ends August 3, 2023
Opportunity Type: This is a paid research position
Opportunity Location Type: In Person
Is this a paid opportunity: Yes
Paid Description:

$5,000 stipend

Minimum Requirements: Admission to the program is competitive. Applicants must meet all of the following criteria:
  • be a matriculated, degree-seeking undergraduate student in the Fall 2023 semester (beginning or continuing college career in Fall 2023 and not graduating before December 2023; concurrent enrollment while in high school does not meet this eligibility requirement). Applicants do not need to be a University of Utah student.
  • eligible to work in the United States:
    • If your status prevents you from working, you may still be eligible to participate. If you are a University of Utah student, a University of Utah student who graduated from a Utah high school, or a graduating last year undergraduate student, the OUR will pursue a partnership to support undergraduate researchers through opportunities with the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid for the experience. If you have questions, please contact Megan Shannahan at 801-581-2478. Students with DACA Employment Authorization Documents will be hired and paid through U payroll.
    • If you are an international student or scholar, you must either a) be a degree-seeking undergraduate student at the University of Utah, OR b) possess documentation that establishes your eligibility to work in the United States (if you hold US citizenship, it is likely you have these documents). Click here to view list of acceptable documents.
  • able to commit to approximately 35-40 hours per week of employment at the University of Utah for the entire duration of the program (May 24-August 3, 2023)
  • at least 18 years old by May 22, 2023 (required if you wish to use on-campus housing; preferred if you will not be using on-campus housing)
Students may not participate in SPUR more than once. Please note that no previous college coursework or previous research experience is required.
How To Apply: Apply using the SPUR 2023 application. The deadline to submit an application is 11:59 PM (Mountain Time) on Sunday, January 29, 2023. Your application is not considered complete until both letters of recommendation have been submitted (deadline for letters is 11:59 PM (Mountain Time) on Wednesday, February 1, 2023).