Carolyn Roberts


Carolyn is a PhD candidate at the University of Virginia Center for Applied Biomechanics.  Prior to her graduate research assistantship, Carolyn worked in multiple research groups at Virginia Tech and NASA Langley Research Center.  Her previous research experience includes operations of mechanical systems at cryogenic temperatures, brain-computer interface and biofeedback technologies, strain gage force balance design for wind tunnel applications, instrumentation calibration using design of experiments, fluid mechanics of biological micro-pumps (butterflies), and Anthropomorphic Test Device (ATD) and instrumentation assembly and calibration for helicopter crash testing.  At the Center for Applied biomechanics, Carolyn has worked on response and injury of the cervical spine, rollover crashworthiness and occupant safety, rollover ATD biofidelity evaluation, military underbody blast injury biomechanics, and lower extremity kinematic response and injury for small females in the automotive environment.  Her primary research focus is biomechanical sex differences and their effects on injury outcome, injury prevalence, and injury mechanism.  Carolyn examines how injury is affected by sex differences such as: morphometrics of bones and cartilage, bony alignment, material properties of soft tissues, bone mineral density variation, and hormone effects.  She is particularly interested in sex-specific injury differences in the lower extremity, and how injury pattern and incidence change between males and females, and between pre- and post-menopausal females.


  • BS, Engineering Science and Mechanics– Virginia Polytechnic Institute
  • Concentration in Biomechanics, Minor in Mathematics

Research Interests

  • Biomechanical sex differences and their effect on type and mechanisms of injury: morphometrics of bones, skeletal alignment, soft tissue material properties, bone mineral density effects, and hormone effects
  • Aging effects on injury, specifically biomechanical effects of menopause
  • Automotive epidemiology analyses of injury locations and injury type by sex and age
  • Development and simulation of human body models for injury assessment
  • Mechanisms and prediction of injury of the cervical spine and lower extremity
  • Rollover vehicle crashworthiness, restraint evaluation, and occupant safety
  • ATD design and biofidelity evaluation

Selected Publications

  • Cervical spine injury in rollover crashes: Anthropometry, excursion, roof deformation, and ATD prediction. Clinical biomechanics, 2019.
  • Injury Risk Functions for 5th Percentile Females: Ankle Inversion and Eversion.  IRCOBI Conference Proceedings, 2018.
  • Injuries and kinematics: response of the cervical spine in inverted impacts.  Proceedings of the 24th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles, 2015.

Awards & Affiliations

  • UVa 3 Minute Thesis Competition, 2019
  • Autoliv Diversity Fellowship, 2018-2019
  • Murray Mckay Young Researcher Award, IRCOBI, 2018
  • UVa Engineering Research Symposium, First place podium presentation, 2018
  • Best Student Presentation, 61st Annual Scientific Conference for the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM), 2017
  • International Research Council on Biomechanics of Injury (IRCOBI) Travel Award, 2017
  • Member, Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine (AAAM), 2017-present
  • Member, Society of Women Engineers (SWE), 2016-present
  • Member, UVA Center for Applied Biomechanics Biological Protocol Committee, 2013-2019

Other Interests

  • Reading, cookiing, exercise