Martin Tanaka


Department of Engineering & Technology
Assistant Professor & Graduate Program Director

Martin Tanaka

Phone: 828-227-2561
Office Address: Belk 333
Personal Website:


  • Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Virginia Tech & Wake Forest University
  • M.S., Engineering Mechanics, Virginia Tech
  • B.S., Mechanical Engineering, North Carolina State University

Areas of Interest

My background consists of degrees in mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering. I have chosen to mesh these two interests to gain a better understanding of how the human body moves in order to prevent low back pain and instability injuries. My students and I create mathematical models and computer simulations, develop new analytical techniques for movement characterization, and conduct experiments with human volunteers to validate the models and obtain model parameters. In addition to our contributions to the scientific knowledge of human movement, we also use our engineering skills to design and build innovative devices to assist people with disabilities. I find using my industry experience essential in guiding my students through device development. Using established product development techniques, the devices that we develop are closer to a commercially viable product than would be possible using research methods alone.  Visit my personal website to see my students and learn more about their research projects .

  • Biodynamic stability
  • Mathematical modeling of nonlinear dynamics
  • Experimental analysis of human movement
  • Rehabilitation engineering and assistive medical devices
  • Product innovation, design, development, manufacturing, and launch
  • Artificial neuromuscular control & the human machine interface

Selected Publications:

Sparks JL, Vavalle NA, Kasting KE, Long BL, Tanaka ML, Sanger PA, Schnell K, Conner-Kerr TA, “Development of a Patient Simulator for Pressure Ulcer Prevention”, Advances in Skin & Wound Care, 28(2), 59-68 (2015)

Tanaka ML, Stubbs AJ, Holst DC, Long BL, “Evaluation of Cyclic Pelvic Movement in Patients with Acetabular Labral Tears”, Journal of Musculoskeletal Research, 17 (3), 1450013, (2014)

Tanaka ML,Vest N, Ferguson CM, Gatenholm P “Comparison of Biomechanical Properties of Native Menisci and Bacterial Cellulose Implant,” International Journal of Polymeric Materials and Polymeric Biomaterials, 63(17), 891-897 (2014)

Tanaka ML, Wiesler ER, Chloros GD, “Biomechanical Consequence of Extensor Pollicis Longus Tendon Relocation”, Journal of Musculoskeletal Research, 16 (1), 1350001, (2013)

Foote KM, Teasdall RD, Tanaka ML, Scott AT, “First Metatarsophalangeal Arthrodesis: A Biomechanical Comparison of Three Fixation Constructs”, Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances, 21(4):223-31 (2012)

Tanaka ML, Ross SD, “Using Topological Equivalence to Discover Stable Control Parameters in Biodynamic Systems”, Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, 15(8):875-84 (2012)

Long BL, Gillespie AI, Tanaka ML, “Mathematical Model to Predict Drivers’ Reaction Speeds”, Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 28(1), 48-56 (2012)

Tanaka ML, Weisenbach CA, Miller MC, Kuxhaus L, “A Continuous Method to Compute Model Parameters for Soft Biological Materials,” Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 133(7), 074502, (2011)

Cooper MD, Tanaka ML, Puri IK, “Coupled Mathematical Model of Tumorigenesis and Angiogenesis In Vascular Tumors”, Cell Proliferation, 43, 542-552, (2010)

Ross SD, Tanaka ML, Senatore C, “Detecting dynamical boundaries from kinematic data in biomechanics”, Chaos: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Nonlinear Science, 20, 017507, (2010)

Tanaka ML, Nussbaum MA, Ross SD, “Mathematical Modeling and Simulation of Seated Stability”, Journal of Biomechanics, 43(5), 906-912, (2010)

Tanaka ML, Nussbaum MA, Ross SD, “ Evaluation of the Threshold of Stability for the Human Spine”, Journal of Biomechanics, 42(8), 1017-1022, (2009)

Tanaka ML, Debinski W, Puri IK, “Hybrid Mathematical Model of Glioma Progression”, Cell Proliferation, 42, 637-646, (2009)

Tanaka ML, Ross SD, “Separatrices and Basins of Stability from Time Series Data: An Application to Biodynamics”, Nonlinear Dynamics, 58(1), 1-21, (2009)

For a complete list of publications including conference abstracts and manuscripts under review follow the link:


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