Dr. Chen’s research will focus on integrating new technologies, like virtual reality (VR), into the healthcare system and safety research. “The goal is to improve the health and well-being of a wider range of populations,” she explained.
Advantages of virtual reality include flexibility and cost—it’s a programmable environment that can be designed to meet the specific needs of the individual patient. “If a patient needs to perform an upper body rehab task like reaching up and taking a book off of the shelf, I don’t have to go out and buy a book and a bookshelf,” pointed out Dr. Chen. “I can just program them into the VR environment.”
Within the next 10 to 15 years, she hopes that her research will give a greater number of people access to healthcare, especially patients who struggle with mobility or live in remote locations. “I don’t think this will ever replace your doctor,” said Dr. Chen. “But it will give both physicians and patients more options for giving and receiving quality care in real time.”
Although he had great success in the business world, Dr. Xu had a desire to return to academia. So when the position became available at NC State, it was a “no-brainer” to move his family to Raleigh. “Boston was too cold for me,” joked Dr. Xu.
Dr. Xu’s research will focus on occupational biomechanics, the study of movement and force on the body to help rid the workplace of troublesome aches and pains. The goal is to improve quality and safety for people on the job.
His first order of business is to set up a cutting-edge occupational biomechanics laboratory within the ISE department. The lab will contain equipment like electromyography (EMG), force plates, and state-of-art motion tracking system that will be used to measure muscle activities and human motion in various applications. “We will determine where the greatest risks are and how can we improve safety,” explained Dr. Xu.