Researcher

Dr Kirsty McDonald

Fields of Research (FoR)

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

Biography

I sit at the intersection of health and engineering with a strong background in human biomechanics, physiology, and motor control. My research program explores what humans seek to optimise in various locomotor contexts (e.g., energy cost, stability, pain, musculoskeletal loading), and how we satisfy these competing objectives. I apply the insights gained from this work to improve the quality of life of people with movement disabilities (e.g.,...view more

I sit at the intersection of health and engineering with a strong background in human biomechanics, physiology, and motor control. My research program explores what humans seek to optimise in various locomotor contexts (e.g., energy cost, stability, pain, musculoskeletal loading), and how we satisfy these competing objectives. I apply the insights gained from this work to improve the quality of life of people with movement disabilities (e.g., prosthesis users, people with knee osteoarthritis) and to enhance the general populations’ ability to engage in physical activity.


My Grants

2023       Chief Investigator. UNSW Faculty of Medicine and Health, School of Health Sciences, Seed Grant Scheme. Development of a novel system for administering a pain stimulus during locomotion. McDonald, K.A., Aplin, F.P., Birznieks, I., Gibbs, M., Dickson, B., Thom, J. $14,647 AUD

2023       Co-Investigator. UNSW Medicine & Health Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction Theme Collaborative Seed Funding. Development and Validation of a Paddle Trip System to Deliver Unanticipated, Controlled and Realistic Obstacle Trips in Older People. Investigators: Okubo, Y., McDonald, K., Wu, L., Silva Pelicioni, P.H., Treacy, D., Lord, S., Brodie, M.A., Humburg, P., Walker, M., McCouat, K. $36,755 AUD

2022       Chief Investigator. ASICS Oceania. Adding a spring to your step: can footwear reduce muscle fatigue in running? Investigators: McDonald, K.A., Héroux, M. Nahan, K. $7,100 AUD

2022       Co-Investigator. UNSW Research Infrastructure Scheme. Mobile Motion Capture Suite. Investigators: Modenese, L., Kark, L., Stevens, M., Argha, R., Shivdasani, M., Brodie, M., Bolseterlee, B., Gustin, S., Alam, M., Shariati, N., McDonald, K., Ward, R., Pelicioni, P., Sturnieks, D. $131,117 AUD

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

2022       Co-Investigator. American Society of Biomechanics Grants for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (GRADE) Program. Ensuring a sustainable future for the International Women in Biomechanics Community. Investigators: Banks, C., Daniels, K., Ebrahimi, A., McDonald, K. (alphabetic order). $5,000 USD (~$7500 AUD)

2021       Chief Investigator. UNSW Research Infrastructure Scheme. A portable solution for metabolic measurements. Investigators: McDonald, K., 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 Faculty of Medicine and Health, School of Health Sciences, Networking Seed Grant Scheme. Exploring device use recommendations to optimize health outcomes for children who use lower limb prostheses. Investigators: McDonald, K.A., 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       Molitor, S.L., Zelik, K.E., McDonald, K.A. Lower-limb dominance does not explain asymmetries in foot kinematics during walking and running. Journal of Biomechanics. 162; 111877. 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2023.111877

2023       Huang, S., Teater, R.H., Zelik, K.E., McDonald, K.A. Biomechanical Effects of an Articulating Prosthetic Toe Joint During Stair Navigation for Individuals with Unilateral, Below-Knee Limb Loss. Journal of Biomechanics. 161; 111841. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2023.111841

2023       Teater, R.H., Wolf, D.N., McDonald, K.A., Zelik, K.E. Unilateral transtibial prosthesis users load their intact limb more than their prosthetic limb during sit-to-stand, squatting, and lifting. Clinical Biomechanics. 108; 106041. doi: 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2023.106041

2023       Nahan, K.Y., Héroux, M., Kerr, J., Bastia, D., Finn, H., McDonald, K.A. Effect of muscle fatigue on metabolic cost in running and implications for footwear design. Footwear Science. 15(Sup1); S132-S133. doi: 10.1080/19424280.2023.2199398

2023       Ziemnicki, D.M., McDonald, K.A., Wolf, D.N., Molitor, S.L., Egolf, J.B., Gupta, M., Zelik, K.E. Combining an Artificial Gastrocnemius and Powered Ankle Prosthesis: Effects on Transtibial Prosthesis User Gait. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering. 145(6); 061009. doi: 10.1115/1.4056706

2022       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. 47(2); 194-203. 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       Kerr, J., Modenese, L., Nahan, K., Armitage, L., Kark, L., McDonald, K.A. The effect of real-time visual feedback on ground reaction force symmetry of prosthesis users. Regional ABC Sydney, Sydney Australia (Awarded the Australian and New Zealand Society of Biomechanics People’s Choice Presentation Award)

2023       Nahan, K., Héroux, M., Kerr, J., Ward, R., Finn, H., McDonald, K.A. Exploring the effect of footwear on the metabolic cost of running with fatigued plantarflexors: a pilot analysis of experienced runners. Regional ABC Sydney, Sydney Australia

2023       Lim, M., van Schooten, K.S., McDonald, K.A., Okubo, Y., Jung, D., Sturnieks, D. Effects of anxiety on reactive balance following trip-like perturbations in older people. Australia and New Zealand Falls Prevention Society & World Falls Congress 2023 Joint Conference, Perth, Australia

2023       Jung, D., Sturnieks, D.L., McDonald, K.A., Song, P.Y.H., Davis, M.K., Lord, S., Okubo, Y. Treadmill belt accelerations do not replicate kinematic responses to trips on a walkway in older people. International Society of Posture & Gait Research World Congress 2023, Brisbane, Australia

2023       Nahan, K., Héroux, M., Kerr, J., Bastia, D., Finn, H., McDonald, K.A. The effect of knee extensor fatigue on metabolic cost in running. XXIX Congress of the International Society of Biomechanics, Fukuoka, Japan

2023       Nahan, K., Héroux, M., Kerr, J., Bastia, D., Finn, H., McDonald, K.A. Effect of muscle fatigue on metabolic cost in running and implications for footwear design. 16th Biennial Footwear Biomechanics Symposium, Osaka, Japan

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

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

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 ILP/Research Internships/Honours, or ii) volunteering as a research assistant, are encouraged to email Dr McDonald to discuss.


Currently supervising

Phillip Ringer, BEng (Hons) student

John Kerr, PhD student 

Key Nahan, PhD student


My Teaching

EXPT2137: Functional Anatomy and Biomechanics 3

HESC2451: Biomechanics

HESC2452: Movement Assessment and Instruction

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Location

Wallace Wurth Building, Room 205

Contact

+61-2-90654296