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Sara Arena, Ph.D.

Collegiate Associate Professor
Portrait of Sara Arena
460 Turner St.
Suite 302
Blacksburg, VA 24060

Research Areas

  • Biomechanics

Research Interests

  • Biomechanics of slips, trips, and falls
  • Balance and postural control
  • Spinal stability and low back pain prevention
  • Modeling and simulation of human movement
  • Use of cooperative learning strategies in engineering

Teaching Interests

  • Musculoskeletal biomechanics
  • Modeling and simulation of human movement
  • Statics
  • Dynamics
  • Professional development


  • Virginia Tech: Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, 2011
  • Virginia Tech: M.S., Biomedical Engineering, 2008
  • Virginia Tech: B.S., Engineering Science and Mechanics, 2007

Awards, Honors, and Service

  • Leader in Teaching, BEAM, Virginia Tech, May 2019
  • National Science Foundation, Panelist, 2018
  • Department of Defense and American Society of Engineering Education, Panelist, 2014-2018
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, 2008-2011.

Recent Publications

Campelo SN, Valerio M, Ahmed HU, Hu Y, Arena SL, Neall II RE, Emberton M, and Arena CB (2017). An Evaluation of Irreversible Electroporation Thresholds in Human Prostate Cancer and Potential Correlations to Physiological Measurements. Applied Physics Letters Bioengineering 1 (1); 016101.

Arena SL, Garman CR, Nussbaum MA, Franck CT, and Madigan ML (2017). Required friction during overground walking is lower among obese compared to non-obese older men, but does not differ with obesity among women. Applied Ergonomics 62: 72-82.

Arena SL, McLaughlin K, Nguyen A, Smoliga JM, and Ford KR (2017). A Comparison of Body Segment Inertial Parameter Estimation Methods and Joint Moment and Power Calculations During a Drop Vertical Jump in Collegiate Female Soccer Players. Journal of Applied Biomechanics 33(1); 76-79.

Arena SL, Davis JL, Grant JW, and Madigan ML (2016).  Tripping elicits earlier and larger deviations in linear head acceleration compared to slipping. PloS One  11(11); e0165670.

Costello KE, Matrangola SL, and Madigan ML (2012). Independent effects of adding weight and inertia on postural sway during quiet standing. BioMedical Engineering OnLine 11(1): 20.

Miller EM, Matrangola SL, and Madigan ML (2011). Effects of obesity on balance recovery from small postural perturbations. Ergonomics 54(6): 547 - 554.

Matrangola SL and Madigan ML (2011). The effects of obesity on balance recovery using an ankle strategy. Human Movement Science 30(3): 584-595.

Matrangola SL and Madigan ML (2009).  Relative effects of weight loss and strength training on balance recovery. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 41(7): 1488-1493

Matrangola SL, Madigan ML, Nussbaum MA, Ross R, and Davy KP (2008). Changes in body segment inertial parameters of obese individuals with weight loss.  Journal of Biomechanics 41(15): 3278-3281.