A multi-university examination of undergraduate research in the field of biomechanics


Undergraduate research is commonly performed in many STEM disciplines and has a wide array of benefits for students, laboratories, principal investigators, and institutions. While many fields have assessed best practices and the cost-benefit analysis of incorporating undergraduates in research, this has not yet been addressed in biomechanics.This paper represents the perspectives of seven members of the American Society of Biomechanics’ Teaching Biomechanics Interest Group (TBIG). These TBIG members discussed their own experience regarding the opportunities, challenges, and benefits of undergraduate research and this perspective paper presents the commonalities found during these interactions.The TBIG members reported that undergraduate research was assessed similarly to graduate student research, which often led to an underestimation of productivity for both the student and overall lab output. While undergraduate researchers are not often responsible for publications and grant funding, they are instrumental in lab productivity in other ways, such as through human subject approvals, conference abstract presentations, student thesis projects, and more. Students benefit from these experiences, not necessarily by continuing in research, but by learning skills and making connections which further them in any career.While this perspective presents the experience of seven professors in the United States, future studies should further assess the costbenefit relationship of working with undergraduates in biomechanics research on a global scale. A clearer picture of this analysis could benefit students, faculty, and administrators in making difficult decisions about lab productivity and assessment.

Journal of Biomechanics