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 high-tech facility offering immersive and dynamic learning experiences for students in the physical therapy, occupational therapy, podiatric medicine, physician assistant, and nursing programs. 

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 patient care. 

The MARC also allows students and faculty to work side-by-side on major research initiatives and clinical trials aimed at finding solutions to movement challenges that impact 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 into the validity of manufacturer claims related to highly-cushioned, maximalist shoes. The SMU-funded study measured the walking and running of 20 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—One faculty researcher investigated the effectiveness of custom-made orthotics at preventing excessive rotation at the knee often associated with risk of ACL injury

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

More on the MARC

Andrew (Drew) Smith, Ph.D., MARC director, has more than 35 years of experience in the field of movement analysis and kinesiology and has worked internationally in academic settings, clinical settings, and research labs. 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.

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.

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 for camera-free, full-body 3D motion capture

  • Qualisys 9-Camera Motion Capture System, featuring Qualisys Tracking Manager (QTM) software

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

  • AMTI Force Platforms (x 6)

  • AMTI Instrumented Treadmill with two force platforms

  • Delsys Trigno and Avanti Wireless Electromyography (EMG) Systems

  • Novel EMED and PEDAR Pressure Mapping Systems

  • Tekscan F-Scan Pressure Mapping System

  • Protokinetics Zeno Gait Walkway

  • Natus Smart Equitest Balance Manager

  • APDM Mobility Lab Comprehensive Gait & Balance Analysis

  • Cosmed K5 Wearable Metabolic Testing System

  • Lumbar Motion Monitor

  • Aretech Zero-G Passive Gait Training System

  • Biodex System 4 Pro Isokinetic Dynamometer

On the first Friday and Saturday of April 2021, we will host our 6th Motion Analysis Research Center Symposium,  a two-day virtual meeting with the theme, Return to Function: Evidence-Based Clinical Interventions. This event will draw world-class clinicians and researchers to educate, learn, and share their experience and expertise with students, faculty, and community partners.  One of the hallmarks of our annual symposia is the focus on education, so we are very pleased to announce that in 2021, we will have up to 300 FREE* student registrations available.  Click on "More info.." to learn about our symposium.

More info...
(* with proof of current student status in a university, college, or high school)

August 17, 2020

Research Study Sponsored by Hoka ONE ONE Shoes

Samuel Merritt University researchers, Drew Smith (MARC), Stephen Hill (MARC) and Tim Dutra (CSPM) are investigating the biomechanics properties of two models of Hoka ONE ONE running shoes in people walking and running on our instrumented AMTI treadmill. Planning to finish by the end of 2020 or early in 2021, and in spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, the data of 40 participants will comprise a very large dataset examining various aspects of shoe performance in the Bondi and Gaviota models. The study was generously funded by Hoka and our final report will be submitted to them in the first quarter of 2021


May 31, 2019

Faculty of the Year Recipient: Dr. Stephen Hill

We are very pleased to announce that Dr. Stephen Hill, Assistant Professor and MARC Laboratory Manager, was named 2019 Faculty of the Year by the Student Body Association of Samuel Merritt University. Congratulations, Steve!

Comments from his nomination for this prestigious award: "Stephen Hill exemplifies the unselfish and caring role that the very best educators exhibit. More than 100 students have worked with Steve in one capacity or another since he arrived at Samuel Merritt University in December 2014...He has a passion for teaching and learning, and one of the highlights of his day is when he gets to spend time working with students in the OTD, DPM, and DPT programs. In addition, Steve supports the research activities of faculty and students in these programs. Finally, Stephen Hill is the face of the MARC to the many visitors and future student who visit the Center. He goes out of his way to provide them with information in a friendly and entertaining manner."



Here's Some of the Activities in the MARC:

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