Dr. Shirley Rietdyk

Department of Health and Kinesiology


Lambert Fieldhouse, Room 110A
(765) 496-6703


PhD, Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Canada
MS, Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Canada
BS, Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Canada

Research Interests

Human gait; Adaptive locomotion; Trips and falls in humans; obstacle crossing

DR. Shirley Rietdyk

Research description

Dr. Rietdyk’s research focus is the interaction of the neural and mechanical systems in mobility, posture and balance. In particular, how does the nervous system integrate the visual and sensory information and coordinate the muscle activity to develop safe, balanced and skillful movement? The mechanical system is very unstable with a high center of mass, a small base of support, and three joints in the support limbs. Yet, we move about and interact with the environment with little conscious thought. Disease or aging may lead to delays and degenerations in the balance control system. Can we provide interventions which maintain mobility and quality of life for these individuals?

Current Students

Ashwini Kulkarni (Health and Kinesiology)
Expected Degree: PhD

Past Students

Chuyi Cui (PhD - 2022)

  • Dissertation Title: Stability Control During Double Support Phase of Adaptive Locomotion: Effect of Age and Environmental Demands
  • Current Position (2022): Post doctoral scholar, Stanford University, Neurology and Neurological Sciences

HyeYoung Cho (PhD - 2021).

  • Dissertation title: Multitask performance in adaptive gait: structural and capacity interference
  • Current position (August 2021): Assistant professor, University of Northern Iowa

Nathaniel Romine (MS - 2017).

  • Thesis title: Diverted gaze in obstacle crossing

Dr. Michel Heijnen (PhD – 2016)

  • Dissertation Title: Failures in adaptive locomotion in healthy young adults
  • Current Position (effective Aug 2016): Assistant Professor, University of North Carolina Wilmington, North Carolina

Dr. Brittney Muir (Dual-title PhD in Health and Kinesiology and Gerontology; co-chair Dr. Haddad - 2015)

  • Dissertation Title: The effects of locomotor task challenge on the gait strategies of young, middle-aged, and older adults
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences, The Sage Colleges, New York

Dr. James Chagdes (PhD – 2012; co-chair Dr. Raman, Department of Mechanical Engineering)

  • Dissertation Title: Nonlinear dynamics of human posture on rigid and compliant surfaces
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, College of Engineering and Computing, Miami University, Ohio

Dr. Christopher Rhea (PhD – 2009) 

  • Dissertation Title: Control of adaptive gait: effect of experience and light level on action and perception 
  • Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Kinesiology, School of Health and Human Sciences, University of North Carolina Greensboro, North Carolina

Samuel Pontecorvo (MS - 2015).

  • Thesis title: Gaze behavior during adaptive gait

Tiphanie Raffegeau (MS – 2013; co-chair Dr. Haddad). 

  • Thesis title: The relationship between mobility and communication in young healthy adults.
  • Current Position: PhD student, Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, University of Florida

Brittney Muir (MS - 2011)

  • Thesis title: Improving Gait Characteristics in Older Adults: The Effects of Biodex Balance System SDTM and Wobble Board Balance Training
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy, School of Health Sciences, The Sage Colleges, New York

Leigh Schanfein (MS - 2009). 

  • Thesis title: The use of self-motion feedback for balance control in younger and older dancers
  • Current Position: Research Associate, Harness Center for Dance Injuries, NYULMC Hospital for Joint Diseases

 Julia Drifmeyer (MS - 2008). 

  • Thesis title: Control of Locomotion:  The Effect of Visual Obstruction and Visual Cues
  • Current Position: Fellow, Public Health Prevention Service Program at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Steven Torgerud (MS - 2004). 

  • The effect of age on balance in the work environment
  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Palmer College of Chiropractic

Jeff McCarty (MS - 2002)

  • Biomechanical analysis of golf putting