Motion Analysis Research Center

The Motion Analysis Research Center (MARC) is a premier, interdisciplinary laboratory created for students and faculty to collaborate on evaluation and research related to human motion and kinesiology.  

Discoveries to Improve the Human Condition 

The MARC is a state-of-the-art research and teaching facility offering immersive and dynamic learning experiences for students in kinesiology, physical therapy, occupational therapy, podiatric medicine, physician assistant, and nursing programs at Samuel Merritt University. 

Students, faculty, and health care professionals can study biomechanics, gait, upper and lower body movement, and the effect of treatment methods and assistive devices—valuable evidence-based findings that can then be applied to client services and patient care. 

The MARC also allows students and faculty to work side-by-side on significant research initiatives and clinical trials to find solutions to movement challenges impacting people’s lives. 

What Happens at the MARC?

Each year, students and faculty members team up to learn, discover, and share findings related to human motion, many of which could lead to improving the quality of life for those with movement disorders. Below are a few examples of recent projects and studies.

  • Maximalist Shoes—Podiatric faculty research studies of highly-cushioned, maximalist shoes. One SMU-funded study measured the walking and running of 20 subjects, while an industry-funded study compared two different models of maximalist shoes (neutral vs. motion control) recruited nearly 40 subjects.
  • Influence of Speed and Incline on Walking—Control of balance during dynamic activities like walking is crucial and particularly challenging for persons with disabilities. Faculty from the MARC and Physical Therapy are conducting a study of treadmill walking at different speeds and inclines to understand how people adapt to these conditions
  • Measuring Fatigue in Persons with MS During the 12-Minute Walk Test—Physical Therapy researchers are interested in understanding how fatigue affects persons with MS during a common measurement of function: the 12-minute walk test
  • ACL Injury Prevention—A joint University of California Berkeley-SMU project supervised by MARC and UCB faculty and which includes three M.Eng. capstone students.

MARC researchers also partner with other academic institutions and medical facilities.

  • University of California Berkeley/UC San Francisco's Ergonomic Research and Graduate Training Program—Expanding research capabilities in occupational and environmental health
  • University of California Berkeley College of Engineering - Master's of Engineering Capstone Industry Partner

More on the MARC

Andrew (Drew) Smith, Ph.D., MARC director, has more than 40 years of experience in the field of movement analysis, clinical biomechanics, and kinesiology.  He has worked internationally in academic settings, clinical settings, and research labs in six countries. His primary area of research is in gait and balance in particular neuromuscular control of motion across a wide spectrum of movements. Before coming to SMU, Smith was an associate professor and associate head of the Department of Health and Physical Education at The Education University of Hong Kong.  Drew holds adjunct appointments in the Departments of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, as well as the California School of Podiatric Medicine.  He is also an affiliated faculty member of the joint University of California Berkeley/UC San Francisco's Ergonomic Research and Graduate Training Program and is an Industry Partner in the University of California Berkeley's College of Engineering MEng program.

Stephen Hill, Ph.D., MARC laboratory manager, joined SMU in December 2014. He has over 25 years of experience in kinesiology and biomechanics of human movement. His clinical and research work has included orthotics and prosthetics, back injury, and neurological disorders. Before coming to SMU, Hill collaborated in, developed, and managed multidisciplinary clinical and research motion analysis labs in Canada and the US, and taught several biomechanics courses. His primary research focus is on clinical and occupational applications of the biomechanics of gait and posture. Stephen holds adjunct appointments in the Departments of Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, as well as the California School of Podiatric Medicine.

Bob Baker, PT, Ph.D., MARC clinical assistant professor. Baker has 30 years of blended experience in orthopedic physical therapy and clinical research. He writes and publishes on lower extremity biomechanics, including best practice Iliotibial Band Syndrome. His research interests have focused on the biomechanical investigation of lower extremity running injuries. Other research interests include motor control and functional testing related to orthopedic and sports injuries.

MARC is well-equipped and continually updated with the high-tech tools needed to study movement and collect data. Hardware includes:

  • Motion Analysis Corporation 12 Kestrel Camera Motion Capture System, featuring Cortex software

  • Xsens MVN Analyze Inertial Monitoring Units (IMUs) for camera-free, full-body 3D motion capture

  • C-Motion Visual 3D, advanced research software for biomechanical analysis of 3D motion capture data

  • AMTI Floor-Mounted Force Platforms (x 6)

  • AMTI Instrumented Treadmill with two force platforms

  • Delsys Trigno and Avanti Wireless Electromyography (EMG) Systems (32-channels)

  • Novel EMED and PEDAR Pressure Mapping Systems

  • Tekscan F-Scan Pressure Mapping System

  • Protokinetics Zeno Gait Walkway

  • Natus Smart Equitest Balance Manager

  • Cosmed K5 Wearable Metabolic Testing System

  • Lumbar Motion Monitor

  • Aretech Zero-G Passive Gait Training System

  • Biodex System 4 Pro Isokinetic Dynamometer

  • APDM Mobility Lab Comprehensive Gait & Balance Analysis

Here's Some of the Activities in the MARC:

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