Martin Tanaka

Martin Tanaka


School of Engineering & Technology
Associate Professor & Graduate Program Director
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:

Innovative new devices have changed the way that humans interact with our world. Often these new devices are enabled by a new scientific discovery or engineering development. I am interested in utilizing new technologies to create innovative devices and to advance our understanding of the biological sciences, engineering, and medicine. Visit my personal website to see my students and learn more about their research projects .

Industry Collaboration Projects:

I am a licensed professional engineer with over a decade of experience designing commercial products in industry. Because of this, I understand the importance of cost and timing in the commercial environment. Different companies have different needs depending on their size and on the skill sets of their employees. I am available to collaborate with biomedical and non-biomedical companies in a variety of areas including the following:

    • Outlining the process needed to develop a successful commercial product from the initial idea through product launch
    • Understanding the interactions of design, manufacturing, and quality and why investment in all three are necessary to develop a profitable product
    • Showing how innovation can be used in engineering design to produce revolutionary new products (rather than evolutionary product advancements)
    • Utilizing design for manufacturing techniques to optimize products so that they can be produced at a reasonable cost
    • Incorporating Lean and Six Sigma principles to reduce waste and to improve quality in manufacturing processes and product design

Research Projects:

Research projects utilize my background in mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, and industry experience to understand medical problems and to develop engineering solutions.  I invest in every student that I work with, providing individual training in research methods, engineering design, and business professionalism.  Our areas of focus include the following:

    • Utilizing neuromuscular electrical stimulation to develop new devices that assist people with disabilities
    • Developing mathematical models of biodynamic systems and stability analysis
    • Conducting experiments with human volunteers to understand human movement, to validate mathematical models, and to obtain model parameters
    • Designing, prototyping, developing, and optimizing innovative medical devices
    • Examining orthopaedic biomechanics problems and formulating solutions
    • Producing artificial neuromuscular control systems & the human machine interfaces

Selected Publications:

Tanaka ML, Hudson D, Farsad R., “Development of Electrical Stimulation Devices for Fall Prevention and Stroke Rehabilitation”, ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition (IMECE), November 3-9, Tampa Convention Center, Tampa, Florida (2017)

Pierce RS, Ireton C, Tanaka ML, Hudson D, “Development of a Head Support Device for People with Hypermobility-type Ehler-Danlos Syndrome” Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference, June 21 – 24, Tucson, Arizona, (2017)

Tanaka ML, Dong C, “Time Domain Analysis of Local Dynamic Stability May Be Useful in Predicting a Critical Event Before it Occurs” Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference, June 21 – 24, Tucson, Arizona, (2017)

Karimi S, Tanaka ML, Reeves NP, Kaul S, “Utilizing Bandwidth to Quantify Human Torso Motor Control Capability”, Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference, June 29 - July 3, National Harbor, Maryland, (2016)

Tanaka ML, Fischer KJ, “Structure and Management of an Engineering Senior Design Course”, Journbaal of Biomechanical Engineering, 138(7), 070802, (2016)

Tanaka ML, Jordi JP, DeRoche D, Sharp Z, "Novel Body Weight Device for Compression Garment Donning in the Treatment of Lymphedema”, Journal of Lympheodema, 11(1), 35-40 (2016)

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”, C haos: 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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