our alumni

David Feathers, PhD '06

While studying biological anthropology at UB, David Feathers began learning about ergonomics. He was fascinated with the topic and, wanting to examine it on a deeper level, he enrolled in a class about wheeled mobility and seating taught by James Lenker, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA.

“It was fantastic,” said Feathers. “For me, it utilized my knowledge of musculoskeletal anatomy for applications in health and ergonomic design.”

Eager to build on this area of study, he attended an annual conference of the Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) and enrolled in another of Lenker’s classes. In that class, a guest lecture by Victor L. Paquet, ScD, from UB’s Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, led Feathers to thinking about industrial engineering and how he could integrate his growing interests.

“From then on, I wanted to perform research and learn more about design, ergonomics, universal design and assistive technology,” he said. While pursuing a PhD in industrial and systems engineering at UB, Feathers enrolled in the certificate program in assistive and rehabilitation technology.

Optimal Learning Environment

He was impressed with the certificate program’s faculty, the breadth and scope of the courses and the interdisciplinary approach. “There’s a wonderful marriage at UB of medicine, engineering, architecture, physical therapy and occupational therapy,” he said. “One of the coolest things about the program was that there were so many different people from different areas of practice—like OT and PT—that there was always a wonderful idea exchange.”

Today, Feathers is applying his background in engineering, anthropology and rehabilitation technology as an assistant professor of ergonomics and human-centered design at Cornell University. His research and teaching consider applied anatomy, 3D anthropometry and biomechanics in evaluating the diversity of human interactions with products and environments.