Comparative Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab

2015 CNBL Lab Group



Craig P. McGowan, Ph.D.

My research focuses on understanding the evolution of musculoskeletal design and the relationships between morphology and performance. I received my Ph.D. in 2006 from Harvard University under the guidance of Dr. Andrew Biewener. For my graduate research, I examined how musculoskeletal specialization influences the functional plasticity of individual muscles and coordination of whole limb design. As a model for examining specialization, I conducted experiments using different species of kangaroos and wallabies.

As an NIH NSRA Post-doctoral research fellow I worked with Dr. Rodger Kram at the University of Colorado at Boulder and Dr. Richard Neptune at the University of Texas at Austin. The goal of my work was to provide a better understanding of how individual muscles contribute to biomechanical subtasks during human walking (e.g., body support and forward propulsion), how muscles are modulated in response to changes in mechanical demand, and how intrinsic muscle properties influence locomotor performance. My research on human locomotion also includes the study of sprint running biomechanics in elite level trans-tibial amputee athletes.

Link to CV

Post-doctoral Fellows

none currently

Graduate Students

Katie Shine

I am an international student, originally from Bristol, England.  I started my PhD at U of I in fall 2011 having studied for my undergraduate at The Royal Veterinary College in London.  I am studying the biomechanics of bears, particularly grizzly bears in collaboration with the Washington State University Bear Research Centre in Pullman, WA.  I will be looking at how the anatomy of the bear limbs affects their locomotion and relating this to their evolutionary history.  This will involve travelling to various museums and measuring bones from all species of bears as well as using 3-D kinematic and kinetic analysis of live bears.




Laura Jackson


Undergraduate Students

Kami Cole

Skyler Penberthy


Zack Wuthrich


Kelsy Doney


Gus Koch


Nick Richards


Joe Harper


Kalyn Lewis



Lab Alumni


Anne Gutmann, Ph.D. - Anne was a NSF BEACON funded post-doc from 2011-2013, working on projects ranging from development of a detailed musculoskeletal model of a kangaroo rat to understanding the determinates of the metabolic cost of bouncing gaits. She is now a Sports Research Engineer at New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc.


Graduate Students

Melissa (Missy) Thompson, Ph.D. - Missy successfully defended her dissertation in the Spring, 2014. Her outstanding research on theeffects ofrunning with and without shoes is helping to unravel the debate about which is better for human health. Even before graduating, Missy was hired as a visiting instructor at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado where she is now an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science.









Undergraduate Students

Mariah Eckwright


Redgy Fuller - Redgy was a 2012 INBRE Fellow and is completing his senior year at Lewis and Clark State College in Lewiston, Idaho. He will be applying to medical school in the fall.

Travis Morgan - Travis graduated form the University of Idaho Spring 2012. He is currently working in his native Alaska and exploring the possibility of going to graduate school. 

Samantha Welker - Sam will start in the Art as Applied to Medicine Program at Johns Hopkins University in Fall 2012.

Dayne Sullivan - Dayne was a 2011 INBRE Fellow. He graduated from Lewis and Clark State College in Spring 2012 and is now working in industry. The research conducted with Dayne's help is currently in preparation for publication.

Ashley Vaughn - Ashley worked in the lab as a 2011 McNair Scholar. Ashley plans to graduate from the University of Idaho in Spring 2013 and is applying to graduate schools. 

High School Students

Marina Van Pelt - Marina was a high school student participating in HOIST (Helping Orient Indian Student and Teachers), a highly innovative summer program that assists ambitious Native American students with an interest in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and related fields.



The McGowan Lab is looking for energetic, creative and motivated people to join the research team!       

Interested in functional morphology, ecology, and the evolution of musculoskeletal design?                                  Check out the Graduate Program in the Department of Biological Sciences at UI. 

Interested in motor control, muscle function, and computer modeling and simulation?                                        Check out the Neuroscience Program at UI.

                             There are also opportunities for post-docs and undergraduate students.

                             Please contact Dr. McGowan via e-mail for more information.