Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering

Faculty Candidate Seminar


Experimental and Computational Multiscale Soft Tissue Biomechanics


Dr. Spencer Lake


University of Minnesota


Monday, January 23, 2012 at 11:00:00 AM


MRDC Building, Room 4211


Dr. Andres Garcia


The primary role of tendons is to transfer tensile forces between muscle and bone. However, some tendons function in more complex physiological roles where they are subjected to non-tensile, multiaxial loads such as compression, shear, and bending. Some of the most frequently injured tendons (e.g., supraspinatus tendon of the rotator cuff) are ones that experience this type of complex loading in vivo. Unfortunately, the properties and behavior of tendons and other soft tissues subject to such loads are largely unexplored, and many questions remain. For example, the specific mechanical role of the non-fibrillar matrix in the response of soft tissues to multiaxial load remains unclear. To this end, my work has utilized collagen-agarose co-gel tissue analogs as a model system to better understand the properties of the non-fibrillar matrix and the nature of its interaction with the underlying collagen fiber network. I have also developed a network-based multicomponent computational model to elucidate the relationships between mechanical, organizational and compositional properties on multiple scales. A deeper understanding of these properties and relationships is necessary to be able to predict, prevent, and repair degenerated or injured tendon and other soft tissues, and will allow for rational design of tissue-engineered replacements.


Spencer Lake received a BS in Bioengineering from the University of Utah in 2003 and a Ph.D. in Bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2009 under the guidance of Professor Lou Soslowsky. After completing his graduate work, he began postdoctoral training with Professor Victor Barocas at the University of Minnesota. Since 2010, he has also served as supervisor of his departmentís Tissue Mechanics Laboratory, where he provides training and research guidance to academic and industrial researchers. Spencerís research has resulted in over 15 journal articles and more than 30 conference abstracts. His work has been supported by an NSF graduate research fellowship and an NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellowship, as well as several other scholarships and awards. His research is in the area of multiscale experimental and computational soft tissue mechanics, with a particular focus on tendon and ligament.