Sophie Tushak

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. Sophie’s ongoing research investigates lumbar spine injuries due to combined compression-flexion loading, in an effort to quantify injury risk in motor vehicle crashes for humans and other commonly used human surrogates in the field (i.e. human body models, ATDs). 


  • 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
  • Lumbar spine fractures
  • 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. 
  • Tushak SK, Richardson RE, Pipkorn B, Hallman JJ, Gepner BD, Forman JL, Kerrigan JK. (2020). A Method for Defining Failure Tolerance of the Lumbar Spine in Combined Loading. Proceedings of the International Research Council on the Biomechanics of Impact (IRCOBI). September 9-11, Munich, Germany.
  • Tushak SK, McMurry TL, Lee SH, Hong SH, Kerrigan JR. (2021). Comparison of injuries in multiple and single event crashes. Traffic Injury Prevention, 21: S90-S95. 


  • National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Award Recipient, 2019
  • International Institute of Education (IIE) Graduate International Research Experience (GIRE) Fellowship Recipient, 2020

Other Interests

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