Sophie Tushak

Sophie was first exposed to computational injury biomechanics the summer after her second year at NC State while participating in research with military and automotive applications at the Wake Forest University Center for Injury Biomechanics (CIB). Her passion for injury biomechanics and automobile safety continued to foster while continuing research in pedestrian safety via human body modeling during a part-time internship at the CIB the following spring. Additionally, Sophie’s previous research project at NC State examined how bone and muscle are affected by altered forelimb loading and unloading in a rat model. In another summer research internship, Sophie utilized finite element modeling to assess injuries in pediatric populations at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia Center for Injury Research and Prevention (CIRP) after her third year. Sophie utilized her knowledge of child safety and child restraint systems to propose research in her National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) application in her final semester at NC State. She graduated with her B.S. in Biomedical and Health Sciences Engineering in December 2018, joined the CAB in January 2019, and was awarded this prestigious fellowship during her first semester at UVA. She is currently involved in both computational and experimental projects. One project investigates the implications of multiple impact crashes with out-of-position occupants and differing airbag deployment thresholds on injury outcomes in field data and several computational surrogates. Sophie is also leading another project that is experimentally assessing lumbar spine injuries during combined loading. She wants to continue research in out-of-position occupants and/or vulnerable populations during graduate school.


  • B.S., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering, 2018

Research Interests

  • Automotive safety
  • Injury prediction and prevention
  • Finite element analysis
  • Out-of-position occupants
  • Vulnerable populations
  • Child safety

Selected Publications

  • Tushak SK, Maheshwari J, Belwadi A. (2019). Responses of the scaled infant human body model in simulated frontal motor vehicle crashes. Proceedings of the 26th International Technical Conference on The Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV). Eindhoven, Netherlands, June 10-13.
  • Decker W, Koya B, Tushak S, Shin J, Choi, HY, Pak W, Untaroiu, Gayzik FS. (2018). Use of Finite Element Human Body Models in a Standardized Evaluation Protocol for Pedestrian Safety Assessment. Conference Proceedings of Human Modeling and Simulation. Berlin, Germany, October 18-19.
  • Tushak SK*, Tamburro MK*, Saul KR, Cole JH. *co-first authors. (2018). Development of a Rat Forelimb Unloading Model to Understand Mechanical Influences on Postnatal Shoulder Development. Proceedings of the National Conference of Undergraduate Research. Edmond, OK, April 4-7.


  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Award Recipient, 2019

Other Interests

  • Hiking, running, cooking, gardening, the occasional Netflix binge