Dagmar Sternad

University Distinguished Professor,  Biology
University Distinguished Professor,  Electrical and Computer Engineering
Affiliated Faculty,  Bioengineering

Contact

Office

  • 617.373.5093

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Research Focus

Motor control and learning, variability and stability, virtual rehabilitation, dynamic modeling, rhythmic and discrete movements as primitives for action

About


Dagmar Sternad received the BS in Movement Science and Linguistics from the Technical University of Munich and the PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Connecticut. From 1995 until 2008, she was Assistant, Associate, and Full Professor at the Pennsylvania State University in Kinesiology and Integrative Biosciences. At Northeastern, she holds an interdisciplinary appointment in the departments of Biology, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Physics. Her research in computational neuroscience and motor control focuses on learning and control of sensorimotor coordination in humans, both in healthy and neurologically impaired individuals. This work spans behavioral experiments with mathematical models of control and nonlinear dynamics, bridging biology with engineering and physics. The results are documented in over 80 publications in scientific journals and several books. The research has been continuously supported by grants from the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation and Office of Naval Research.

The central interest of research in the Action Lab is the control and coordination of goal-directed human behavior. Adopting a systems-level approach we aim to reveal the organizational principles of the nervous system in interaction with the mechanical system of the body and the environment. Our research strategy intertwines behavioral experiments on human subjects with theoretical work using mathematical models of movement generation. The theoretical approach views the actor in the environment as a dynamical system, which is high-dimensional and nonlinear. Our experimental research focuses on single- and multi- joint human movements including upper limb manipulation tasks and locomotion examined in virtual environments. We have extended these experimental paradigms to study the elderly and patients with neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

 

Honors & Awards

  • 2021-22 Fulbright Award to research “Variability and Redundancy in Motor Learning” at the Santa Lucia Foundation at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy
  • Klein Lectureship Award
  • Distinguished Lecturer on Life and the Sciences of Complexity, Center for the Ecological Study of Perception and Action

Research Overview

Motor control and learning, variability and stability, virtual rehabilitation, dynamic modeling, rhythmic and discrete movements as primitives for action

Selected Research Projects

Selected Publications

  • S. Bazzi, D. Sternad, Human Control of Complex Objects: Towards More Dexterous Robots, Advanced Robotics, 2020, 1-19
  • M.E. Huber, E. Chiovetto, M.A. Giese, D. Sternad, Rigid Foot Soles Improve Balance in Beam Walking but Improvements do not Persist with Bare Feet, Scientific Reports, 10(1), 2020, 7629
  • J. Hermus, J.A. Doeringer, D. Sternad, N. Hogan Separating Neural Influences from Peripheral Mechanics: The Speed-Curvature Relation in Mechanically- Constrained Actions, Journal of Neurophysiology, 123, 2020, 1870–1885
  • D. Levac, M.E. Huber, D. Sternad, Learning and Transfer of Complex Motor Skills in Virtual Reality: A Perspective Review, Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation, 16(1), 2019, 121
  • W.J. Sohn, R. Sipahi, T.D. Sanger, D. Sternad Portable Motion-Analysis Device for Upper Limb Research, Assessment and Rehabilitation in Non- Laboratory Settings, IEEE Journal of Translational Engineering in Health and Medicine, 7, 2019, 1-14
Dagmar Sternad

Faculty

Apr 15, 2021

Sternad Selected for Fulbright Award in Italy

University Distinguished Professor Dagmar Sternad, biology/ECE, has been selected for the Fulbright award for the academic year 2021-2022 to work on “Variability and Redundancy in Motor Learning” at the Santa Lucia Foundation at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, Italy.

Dagmar Sternad

Faculty

Apr 06, 2021

Investigating Timing and Motor Control

University Distinguished Professor Dagmar Sternad, biology/ECE, was awarded a $323K NSF grant for “Emergent motor timing influences perceptual timing.”

award certificate

PhD

Dec 04, 2020

Best student paper at 8th IEEE Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics Conference

Bioengineering student Aleksei Krotov, PhD’24, received a Best Student Paper Award at the 8th IEEE Biomedical Robotics and Biomechatronics Conference.

PhD

Jul 06, 2020

PhD Student Rashida Nayeem finalist for Best Paper Award in Cognitive Robotics at The International Conference on Robotics and Automation 2020

EE PhD student Rashida Nayeem, advised by Prof. Dagmar Sternad, was a finalist for the Best Paper Award in Cognitive Robotics at the 2020 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation for her paper “Transient Behavior and Predictability in Manipulating Complex Objects.”

Faculty

Apr 02, 2019

Sternad Promoted to University Distinguished Professor

COS/ECE Professor Dagmar Sternad has been promoted to the rank of University Distinguished Professor, the highest honor the university can bestow upon a faculty member, for her achievements in the field of experimental and computational motor neuroscience.

Faculty

Jan 30, 2019

Finding the Right Balance

COS/ECE Professor Dagmar Sternad is studying the motion of dancers from the Boston Ballet to determine how the human body balances itself which could help improve medical rehabilitation as well as stabilizing robots.

Faculty

Oct 09, 2018

Humans Control Complex Objects by Exploiting Their Stability

COS/ECE Professor Dagmar Sternad was featured in Physics Today's article "Humans control complex objects by exploiting their stability."

Faculty

Sep 10, 2018

Improving Human-Robot Interactions with Dynamically Complex Objects

Professor Dagmar Sternad, Biology, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics, recently received a $700,000 National Science Foundation grant title, “Learning to Control Dynamically Complex Objects” to improve human-robot interaction by exploring how humans manipulate complex objects and tools. Insights gained from the three-year grant, awarded to both Sternad and her collaborator, Professor Neville Hogan, Mechanical Engineering […]

Sep 29, 2016

Sternad Awarded Grant to Create Robots with Better Human Dexterity

COS/ECE Professor Dagmar Sternad was awarded a $500K collaborative NSF grant to research "Towards Robots with Human Dexterity".

Sep 09, 2015

Sternad Awarded EAGER Grant

COS & ECE Professor Dagmar Sternad was awarded a $171K NSF EAGER grant for "Challenging the Cognitive-Control Divide". Abstract Source: NSF This EArly-concept Grant for Exploratory Research (EAGER) collaborative research project is between an expert in robotics and control theory and an expert in experimental and computational motor neuroscience. It bridges cognitive science, experimental psychology […]

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