New Historical Marker Celebrates Biomechanics at Penn State

August 31, 2009

image of the marker

If you’re walking around The Nittany Lion Inn, keep an eye out for a new blue-and-white landmark. On Thursday, August 27, Penn State’s newest historical marker was unveiled, next to the Biomechanics Teaching Lab (also known as the “Water Tower”—located between the Inn and the Nittany Parking Deck).

The marker celebrates “the pivotal role Penn State has played in shaping the discipline of biomechanics,” said Dr. Nan Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development (HHD). The Department of Kinesiology, housed within HHD, offers a graduate-level Biomechanics emphasis, and the lab where research is performed is renowned.

The marker recognizes the three people who established and enhanced the Biomechanics Lab at Penn State: Dr. Richard Nelson, professor emeritus of exercise and sports science at Penn State, Dr. Chauncey Morehouse, professor emeritus of physical education at Penn State, and Dr. Peter Cavanagh, distinguished professor emeritus of locomotion studies at Penn State and professor and endowed chair in women's sports medicine and lifetime fitness at the University of Washington.

image of R. Nelson, C. Morehouse, P. Cavanagh

Dr. Chauncey Morehouse, Dr. Richard Nelson, and Dr. Peter Cavanagh

All three attended the event, and it was Nelson who actually unveiled the marker. The event was hosted by the Department of Kinesiology and coincided with the American Society of Biomechanics meeting, an event that took place on campus August 26 to 29, also hosted by the Department of Kinesiology.

Richard Nelson unveils the marker

Also attending the event was Dr. Robert Gregor, professor emeritus at the Georgia Institute of Technology, who was one of the first graduates of the Biomechanics emphasis at Penn State. When he was at Penn State, Gregor’s Ph.D. committee consisted of, among other people, the three men mentioned on the marker: Nelson, Morehouse, and Cavanagh.

“This is a special time not just for the history of Penn State, but also for the field of biomechanics,” said Gregor.”

Other attendees include Dr. Graham Spanier, President of Penn State, several Kinesiology faculty members, and many alumni.

image of Dr. Spanier

“The markers commemorate events and locations of broad importance to the intellectual development and heritage of Penn State as one of America's leading public universities,” said Spanier in his remarks. “The people, stories and events depicted on the markers are remarkable.” This was the first time Spanier attended the unveiling of a historical marker, and he’s only the second Penn State president to attend such an event, after Bryce Jordan.

This is the seventy-second historical marker in Penn State’s historical marker series, which spans multiple campuses.

The following is the text from the new historical marker on campus:

AMONG THE FIRST OF ITS KIND IN THE WORLD, PENN STATE'S BIOMECHANICS LAB WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1967, DIRECTED BY RICHARD NELSON. HE AND CHAUNCEY MOREHOUSE WERE JOINED IN 1972 BY ANOTHER FACULTY MEMBER, PETER CAVANAGH. THEY AND THEIR STUDENTS DID GROUNDBREAKING RESEARCH ON THE BIOMECHANICS OF HUMAN PERFORMANCE APPLIED TO PROBLEMS IN MUSCULOSKELETAL HEALTH, SPORT, EXERCISE, INJURY AND REHABILITATION. THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY OF BIOMECHANICS WAS FOUNDED HERE IN 1973.

-hhd-

Editors: For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.