Researcher

Fields of Research (FoR)

Biomechanics, Human Movement and Sports Science, Biomedical Engineering, Medical Devices, Motor Control

Biography

My research group investigates the multi-factorial prioritization schemes of walking and running to broaden our understanding of how humans balance competing locomotor objectives. We also explore control targets involved in sensing and regulating optimality criteria. We then apply this knowledge to improve the design of assistive technology and rehabilitation protocols. The overarching vision of this work is to enhance mobility through a...view more

My research group investigates the multi-factorial prioritization schemes of walking and running to broaden our understanding of how humans balance competing locomotor objectives. We also explore control targets involved in sensing and regulating optimality criteria. We then apply this knowledge to improve the design of assistive technology and rehabilitation protocols. The overarching vision of this work is to enhance mobility through a deeper understanding of fundamental locomotor mechanics, energetics, and prioritization strategies.


My Grants

2022     Chief Investigator. UNSW Medicine + Health, School of Health Sciences, Seed Grant Scheme. Adding a spring in your step: can the “Super Shoe” reduce muscle fatigue in running? Co-Investigators: Nahan, K., Broderick, C., Lee, M., Héroux, M. $3,936 AUD

2022     American Society of Biomechanics Grants for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (GRADE) Program. Ensuring a sustainable future for the International Women in Biomechanics Community. Co-Investigators: Banks, C., Daniels, K., Ebrahimi, A., McDonald, K. (alphabetic order). $5,000 USD

2021     Chief Investigator. UNSW Research Infrastructure Scheme. A portable solution for metabolic measurements. Co-Investigators: Arnold, R., Endre, Z., Héroux, M., Kark, L., Letton, M., Sturnieks, D., Thom, J., van Schooten, K., Ward, R. $83,045 AUD

2021     Chief Investigator. UNSW Medicine + Health, School of Health Sciences, Networking Seed Grant Scheme. Exploring device use recommendations to optimize health outcomes for children who use lower limb prostheses. Co-Investigators: Broderick, C., van Doorn, N., Scott, T. $5,000 AUD


My Qualifications

2014-18           PhD, School of Human Sciences, The University of Western Australia

2013                 BSc (Hons), School of Sport Science Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia

2011                 BSc, School of Sport Science Exercise and Health, The University of Western Australia


My Awards

2022                 Early Career Educator of the Year, School of Health Sciences, University of New South Wales

2014-17            Australian Postgraduate Award and The University of Western Australia Safety Net Top-Up Scholarship, The University of Western Australia

2016                 Semi-finalist, Nike Ease Challenge

2014                 Valedictorian, The University of Western Australia

2013                 Rod Fry Prize, The University of Western Australia

2013                 Frank Pyke Memorial Scholarship, The University of Western Australia


My Research Activities

Peer-Reviewed Publications

2023     Ebrahimi, A., Daniels, K.A.J., Gaffney, B.M.M., Banks, C.L., McDonald, K.A., Kessler, S.E., Maharaj, J. International Women in Biomechanics: Promoting, Supporting, and Sustaining the Careers of Women in Biomechanics. Journal of Biomechanics. 146; 111419. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2022.111419

2022     McDonald, K.A., Cusumano, J.P., Hieronymi, A., Rubenson, J. Humans trade-off energetic cost with fatigue avoidance while walking. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 289; 20221189. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2022.1189

2022     Armitage, L., McDonald, K.A., Kark, L., Buller, A., Ford, B. Transtibial prosthetic socket fitting: Australian prosthetist perspectives on primary challenges, management strategies and opportunities for workflow and technological innovation. Prosthetics and Orthotics International. doi: 10.1097/PXR.0000000000000174

2022     McDonald, K.A., Teater, R.H., Cruz, J.P., Zelik, K.E. Unilateral below-knee prosthesis users walking on uneven terrain: the effect of adding a toe joint to a passive prosthesis. Journal of Biomechanics. 138; 111115. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2022.111115

2021     Ziemnicki, D., Caputo, J., McDonald, K.A., Zelik, K.E. Development and Evaluation of a Prosthetic Ankle Emulator with an Artificial Soleus and Gastrocnemius. Journal of Medical Devices. 15(4); 045001. doi: 10.1115/1.4052518

2021     McDonald, K.A., Teater, R.T., Cruz, J.P., Kerr, J.T., Bastas, G., Zelik, K.E. Adding a toe joint to a prosthesis: walking biomechanics, energetics, and preference of individuals with unilateral below-knee limb loss. Scientific Reports. 11; 1924. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-81565-1

2020     Yandell, M., Ziemnicki, D., McDonald, K.A., Zelik, K.E. Characterizing the Comfort Limits of Forces Applied to the Shoulders, Thigh and Shank to Inform Exosuit Design. PLOS ONE. 15(2); e0228536. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0228536

2019     McDonald, K.A., Cusumano, J.P., Peeling, P., Rubenson, J. Multi-objective control in human walking: insight gained through simultaneous degradation of energetic and motor regulation systems. Journal of The Royal Society Interface. 16(158); 20190227. doi: 10.1098/rsif.2019.0227

2019     McDonald, K.A., Honert, E.C., Cook, O.S., Zelik, K.E. Unholey shoes: experimental considerations when estimating ankle joint complex power during walking and running. Journal of Biomechanics. 92; 61-66. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2019.05.031

2019     McDonald, K.A., Devaprakash, D., Rubenson, J. Is conservation of center of mass mechanics a priority in human walking? Insights from leg-length asymmetry experiments? Journal of Experimental Biology. 222(9); jeb195172. doi: 10.1242/jeb.195172

2019     Nicholas, J.C., McDonald, K.A., Peeling, P., Jackson, B., Dimmock, J.A., Alderson, J.A., Donnelly, C.J. Pole dancing for fitness: the physiological and metabolic demand of a 60-minute class. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. 33(10); 2704-10. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0000000000002889

2019     McDonald, K.A., Honert, E.C., Cook, O.S., Zelik, K.E. Ankle joint complex power during walking and running: effects of marker location, and shoe- vs. skin-mounted markers. Footwear Science. 11(Sup1); S51-S52. doi: 10.1080/19424280.2019.1606073

2016     McDonald, K.A., Stearne, S.M., North, I., Alderson, J.A., Pires, N.J., Rubenson, J. The role of arch compression and metatarsophalangeal joint dynamics in modulating plantar fascia strain in running. PLoS ONE. 11(4); e0152602. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152602

2016     Stearne, S.M., McDonald, K.A., Alderson, J.A., North, I., Oxnard, C.E., Rubenson, J. The foot’s arch and the energetics of human locomotion. Scientific Reports. 6; 19403. doi: 10.1038/srep19403

2015     Caulfield, S., McDonald, K.A., Dawson, B., Stearne, S.M., Green, B.A., Rubenson, J., Clemmons, T.D., Peeling, P. A comparison of haemolytic responses in fore-foot and rear-foot striking distance runners. Journal of Sport Sciences. 34(15); 1485-1490. doi: 10.1080/02640414.2015.1119300

Conference Abstracts

 

2023     Huang, S., Teater, R.H., Zelik, K.E., McDonald, KA. Biomechanical effects of adding a flexible toe joint to foot prostheses during stair ascent and descent. American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists 49th Academy Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium, Nashville, USA (Accepted)

2023     Teater, R.H., Wolf, D.N., McDonald, KA., Zelik, K.E. Lower-limb loading asymmetries persist for tasks prosthesis users don’t find challenging. American Academy of Orthotists & Prosthetists 49th Academy Annual Meeting & Scientific Symposium, Nashville, USA (Accepted)

2022     Ziemnicki, D.M., Molitor, S., Egolf, J., Cruz, J.P., Zelik, K.E., McDonald, K.A. Design and evaluation of a bimodal pediatric prosthetic foot for walking and running. North American Congress on Biomechanics 2022, Ottawa, Canada

2022     Teater, R., Wolf, D., McDonald, K., Zelik, K. Characterizing Strategies and Exploring Interventions for Transtibial Prosthesis Users during Activities of Daily Living. RehabWeek 2022, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2022     Teater, R.T., Wolf, D., Ausec, B., McDonald, K.A., Zelik, K.E. Transtibial Prosthesis User Biomechanics during Functional Tasks: Characterizing Strategies and Evaluating Effects of Increased Prosthetic Ankle and Toe Range of Motion. 9th World Congress of Biomechanics, Taiwan

2021     Eveld, M.E., Wolfe, A.E., Cruz, J.P., Sifuentes, N.J., Ausec, B.N., Zelik, K.E., McDonald, K.A. Task-specific device use in paediatric prosthesis users. 12th Australasian Biomechanics Congress, Virtual

2021     McDonald, K.A., Teater, R., Zelik, K.E. Does a prosthetic toe joint affect mechanics or preference when persons with limb loss walk on uneven terrain? XXVIII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Virtual

2021     Teater, R.T., McDonald, K.A., Zelik, K.E. Exploring Effects of Prosthetic Ankle and Toe Joint Range of Motion on Activities of Daily Living. XXVIII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Virtual

2021     Ebrahimi, A., Kessler, S., Montgomery, J., Banks, C., McDonald, K., Daniels, K., Maharaj, J. What womxn want: Using the International Womxn in Biomechanics organization to help womxn in biomechanics thrive. XXVIII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Virtual

2021     Ziemnicki, D.M., Caputo, J., McDonald, K.A., Zelik., K.E., Effects of an artificial gastrocnemius and powered ankle prosthesis on transtibial prosthesis user gait. 45th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics, Virtual

2020     Molitor, S., Zelik, K., McDonald, K. On the importance of applying appropriate joint angle normalization to multi-segment foot models. Biomedical Engineering Society Conference, Virtual

2020     Molitor, S., Zelik, K., McDonald, K. Comparison of joint mechanics of the dominant vs non-dominant lower limbs during locomotion. 44th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics, Virtual

2020     Teater, R.T., McDonald, K.A., Bastas, G., Zelik, K.E. Asymmetry, Instability and Functional Deficits in Transtibial Prosthesis Users During Squatting, Lifting and Sit-to-Stand. 44th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics, Virtual

2020     Ziemnicki, D.M., McDonald, K.A., Zelik., K.E. Combining an Artificial Gastrocnemius and Powered Ankle Prosthesis: Effects on Transtibial Prosthesis User Gait. 44th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics, Virtual

2020     McDonald, K.A., Cusumano, J.P., Hieronymi, A., Rubenson, J. Decoupling the metabolic and neuromuscular cost of human walking. Dynamic Walking 2020, Virtual

2019     McDonald, K.A., Teater, R.H., Cook, O.S., Bastas, G., Zelik, K.E. The Biomechanical and Met-toe-bolic Effects of Walking on a Passive Prosthetic Foot with an Added Toe Joint. XXVII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Calgary, Canada

2019     Teater, R.H., McDonald, K.A., Cook, O.S., Bastas, G., Zelik, K.E. Addition of a Passive Toe Joint: Considerations for Passive and Powered Ankle-Foot Prosthesis Design. XXVII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Calgary, Canada

2019     McDonald, K.A., Honert, E.C., Cook, O.S., Zelik, K.E. Ankle joint complex power during walking and running: effects of marker location, and shoe- vs. skin-mounted markers. XXVII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Calgary, Canada

2019     McDonald, K.A., Hieronymi, A., Cusumano, J.P., Rubenson, J. Optimization in Human Walking: Decoupling Whole-Body Energetics and Local Muscle Effort. XXVII Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Calgary, Canada

2019     McDonald, K.A., Honert, E.C., Cook, O.S., Zelik, K.E. Ankle joint complex power during walking and running: effects of marker location, and shoe- vs. skin-mounted markers. 14th Biennial Footwear Biomechanics Symposium, Kananaskis, Canada

2018     Nicholas, J.C., McDonald, K.A., Peeling, P., Jackson, B., Dimmock, J.A., Alderson, J.A., Donnelly, C.J. The physiological and metabolic demand of a standardized 60-minute pole dancing class. 23rd Annual Congress of the European College for Sport Science, Dublin, Ireland

2016     McDonald, K.A., Peeling, P., Rubenson, J. Preferred walking speed selection in normal and perturbed gait environments. 40th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Biomechanics, Raleigh, USA

2016     McDonald, K.A., Peeling, P., Rubenson, J. Preferred walking speed selection in normal and unstable gait environments. Biomechanics and Neural Control of Movement, Sterling, USA

2015     McDonald, K.A., Stearne, S.M., North, I., Alderson, J.A., Rubenson, J. The role of arch compression and metatarsophalangeal joint dynamics in modulating plantar fascia strain in running. XXV Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Glasgow, UK


My Research Supervision


Supervision keywords


Areas of supervision

PhD & Masters

The Locomotion Research Group is always on the lookout for applicants with a keen interest in locomotor biomechanics, optimality and/or assistive technology. Domestic and international candidates can apply for an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) Scholarship through the University of New South Wales, with multiple rounds/start dates available each year. Please get in touch via email if you would like to discuss these opportunities further.

Undergraduate

Undergraduate students from the University of New South Wales who are interested in i) learning more about Honours/4th year research projects, or ii) volunteering as a research assistant, are encouraged to email Dr McDonald to discuss.


Currently supervising

2022-present     John Kerr, PhD student 

2021-present     Key Nahan, PhD student


My Teaching

HESC2451: Biomechanics

HESC2452: Movement Assessment and Instruction

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