Current Students

Postdoctoral Scholar

Rebecca "Rab" Abbott

Rebecca "Rab" Abbott, PT, DPT, PhD - Advisor: Arin Ellingson

Rab is a Postdoctoral Associate researching intersegmental cervical spine kinematics, with a special interest in joint instability and hypermobility. She earned her PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Northwestern University in Chicago. Her PhD work involved developing an active machine learning framework to estimate the strength of individual neck muscles, utilizing a combination of musculoskeletal modeling, statistical inference, and information theory. Rab earned her Bachelors of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tufts University, and worked as an engineer for a start-up medical device company for 3 years before entering graduate school. In her free time, she enjoys good food, hiking, exercising, and hanging out with her dog Gromit. 

PhD Students

Renata Braudy

Renata Braudy, PT, MS, MA, OCS, CLT - Advisor: Linda Koehler

Renata is a PhD student studying shoulder biomechanics, axillary web syndrome, and lymphedema in those affected by breast cancer. She worked as a clinician for 17 years focusing primarily on the development and growth of Breast Cancer Rehabilitation Programs. Originally from NY, Renata has her undergraduate degree in Nutritional Sciences from Cornell University as well as Master’s Degrees in both Physical Therapy and Kinesiology/Exercise Physiology from Washington University School of Medicine and The University of Texas at Austin, respectively. She worked for Dr. Linda Koehler as a Research Assistant prior to returning to school. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her husband, 2 young boys, and her dog, as well as traveling, cycling, running, paddleboarding, skiing, and exploring Minnesota.


Mary Foltz

Mary Foltz, MS - Advisor: Arin Ellingson

Mary is a PhD student interested in improving the quality of life of individuals with scoliosis by better understanding the altered biochemical properties and biomechanics of individuals with scoliosis. Her research focuses on disc degeneration and scoliosis curve progression using non-invasive MRI techniques. Mary is from Winchester, Virginia and received her Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She received her Master of Science degree in biomedical engineering from the University of Minnesota. Outside the lab, Mary likes to travel, garden, and play soccer. She strives to promote STEM to children with diverse backgrounds through continued outreach in the St. Paul and Minneapolis communities including providing opportunities for kids during National Biomechanics Day, 4th Family Outreach, and the Perry Initiative.


Aaron Hellem

Aaron Hellem, PT, DPT - Advisor: Paula Ludewig

Aaron is a PhD student researching shoulder biomechanics. Prior to initiating his PhD training, Aaron worked as a physical therapist at Mayo Clinic Sports Medicine Center in Minneapolis, MN. He is a board certified specialist in orthopaedic and sports physical therapy as well as a certified strength and conditioning specialist. In addition to clinical care, Aaron teaches in the Orthopaedic and Sports physical therapy residency programs and the MD primary care sports medicine fellowship. His primary research and clinical care interests include upper extremity sports and orthopaedic injuries, particularly in the overhead athlete. He is from Lincoln, NE by way of Coon Rapids, MN and received his Bachelor of Arts from St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN and completed his Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and orthopaedic residency at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. He enjoys spending time with his wife Lisa, Olympic lifting, playing baseball, playing cards, reading fantasy novels, and exploring the Twin Cities.


Craig Kage

Craig Kage, PT, DPT - Advisor: Arin Ellingson

Craig is a PhD student researching cervical spine kinematics. This includes gross spinal motion analysis using optical motion capture and the validation and utilization of a custom biplane fluoroscopy system for dynamic, three-dimensional spine imaging at the segmental level. Craig is from Marathon, WI and received his Bachelor of Science and Doctor of Physical Therapy degrees from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. He worked as a physical therapist for 5 years prior to pursing his PhD. In his free time, he enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter as well as running, softball, board games, fantasy football, and closely following the Green Bay Packers and University of Wisconsin athletics.


Emily Kahnert

Emily Kahnert, DPT, CCTT - Advisors: Paula Ludewig and Donald Nixdorf

Emily is a PhD student studying the biomechanics of the TMJ, potentially using 4D MRI. She is a
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder specialist and earned her Cervical and Temporomandibular
Therapist Certification spring 2019 after exclusively treating Craniofacial, TMJ and C-spine
disorders at the MN Head & Neck Pain Clinic for 13 years. Working now collaboratively with the
Division of TMD and Orofacial Pain in the UMN dental school, she provides PT at the
multidisciplinary TMD, Orofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Medicine clinic. She received her Doctor
of Physical Therapy degree from the University of Minnesota Program in Physical Therapy after
receiving a Bachelor of Arts in music from St. Olaf College, and has a passion for treating
performing artists. In her free time she continues to play her cello and enjoys time with her
family as well as baking and decorating elaborate cakes.


Matt MacEwen

Matthew MacEwen, BS - Advisor: Arin Ellingson

Matthew is a PhD student in biomedical engineering that is researching lumbar spine kinematics with the goal of better understanding and diagnosing lower back pain. The research includes working with optical motion capture and a novel biplane fluoroscopy system to model the motion of the lumbar spine. This model will be utilized in tandem with other finite element models to create a complete multi scale model of the facet joints in the lumbar spine. Matthew is from Franklin Township, New Jersey, and received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Virginia in 2017. Outside of the classroom and lab, he is an avid cyclist and a trained advanced SCUBA diver. In his free time, he loves to partake in DIY projects ranging from furniture building to modifying and improving his car.


Gaura Saini

Gaura Saini, PT, DPT - Advisor: Paula Ludewig

Gaura is a PhD student researching shoulder biomechanics. She is a physical therapist interested in clinical movement analysis and how movement impairments relate to pain. Gaura is from Burnsville, MN and received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Wisconsin - Madison and her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from Washington University in St. Louis. She enjoys exploring new restaurants and breweries, running, biking, swimming, and hanging out her dog Ralph.



Oliver Silverson

Oliver Silverson, MS, ATC - Advisors: Paula Ludewig and Justin Staker

Oliver is PhD student researching shoulder biomechanics and upper extremity rehabilitation strategies. As an athletic trainer, he is interested in investigating movement patterns in athletes with the goal of understanding the contributing factors to pathology and injury prevention. Oliver is from Maine and received his undergraduate education at the University of Vermont and his master's degree from the University of Kentucky. He enjoys spending time outside on the water in the summer and playing hockey in the winter.