Multiscale Muscle Mechanophysiology (M3) Lab
Principal Investigator: Silvia Blemker, Ph.D.

About Us

Our Story

Improving health through musculoskeletal modeling.

About Us

The Multiscale Muscle Mechanophysiology (“M3”) lab is collectively fascinated by skeletal muscles, which are the motors for all the wide range of voluntary movements in the human body. Each muscle’s properties are beautifully tuned for a specific function in the body, which can be easily disrupted by diseases such as muscular dystrophy, cerebral palsy, or in aging populations. We seek to gain new insights into the form, function, biology, and diseases of muscles. Our work has the ultimate goal of improving treatments and quality of life for individuals suffering from muscle-related clinical problems. We integrate a variety of computational and experimental approaches to achieve this goal.


Below are some of the current applications of our work. Check out our publications for more information on current and past projects.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Muscle Tissue Engineering

Ocular Biomechanics

Cleft Palate Repair

Human Athletic Performance

Muscle Adaptation and Remodeling


  • Silvia Blemker, PhD

    Principal Investigator
    Dr. Blemker is from Lawrence, Kansas. She did her undergraduate and Master’s work in Biomedical Engineering at Northwestern University, and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. She is broadly interested in muscle mechanics & physiology, multi-scale modeling, mentoring students, and teaching. Her hobbies include: spending time with family, organizing legos, jogging, hiking, reading, traveling, and tennis (at the very beginner level).

  • Xiao Hu, PhD

    Postdoctoral Researcher

  • Brian Jones, PhD

    Postdoctoral Researcher
    Brian received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University in 2002 and 2004, respectively. He then worked as an R&D Engineer for Cook Medical before returning to graduate school to pursue a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Columbia University. He received his PhD in 2015 and began a post-doc in the M3 Lab in 2017. Brian is working in collaboration with NASA to study the changes that occur in skeletal muscle during space flight.

  • Katie Pelland

    NSF Predoctoral Fellow, PhD Candidate
    Born and raised in southern Virginia, Katie loves to travel, cheer on the Baltimore Orioles, kayak while wearing a life jacket, and spend time with friends and family. After a brief adventure to the West Coast, during which she earned her B.A. in Mathematics from Pomona College in 2011, and a year working at Disney World (the Florida one!), she returned to beautiful Virginia to pursue a PhD in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. Her research focuses on improving the outcomes of cleft palate repair through a combination of novel MRI techniques and finite element modeling.

  • Kelley Virgilio

    NSF Predoctoral Fellow, PhD Candidate
    Kelley received her B.S. in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and worked in project management for 4 years before returning to graduate school. Her research incorporates finite-element and agent-based models to study disease progression in Duchenne musuclar dystrophy, particularly the complex role of fibroblasts and fibrosis. In her spare time she can be found cycling through the Blue Ridge Mountains.

  • Katie Knaus

    PhD Candidate
    Katie is a third year PhD student in biomedical engineering. She received her B.S. in mechanical engineering and physics from UVA. Her current research focuses on how lower limb musculature and functional capacity varies across clinical to athletic populations, and on the ciliary muscle of the eye and its role in presbyopia and accommodation. Katie loves playing outside with her family, especially skiing!

  • Thanh (Vi) Tran

    PhD Candidate
    Vi is a double Hoo, earning a B.S. in Engineering Science-Nanomedicine in 2014 and now pursuing her Master's degree in Biomedical Engineering, both at the University of Virginia. She is currently researching the muscle structure of UVA athletes and working to develop a novel bottle for babies born with cleft palate. In her freetime, Vi enjoys swimming, traveling, exploring C'ville, and cheering in all UVA sports events (especially UVA basketball) - GO HOOS!

  • Adrienne Williams

    PhD Candidate
    Adrienne is from Kingston, Jamaica. She did her undergraduate studies at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica in Medical Physics with a double minor in Alternative Energy and Spanish. She then completed her M.S. in Bioengineering and performed research in the NSF ERC for Revolutionizing Metallic Biomaterials at North Carolina A&T State University. Her current research in the M3 lab has been to develop a model that predicts which regions in the muscle of DMD patients are most susceptible to damage. Adrienne enjoys watching funny videos on social media, TV shows and movies with her husband, spending time with family, playing soccer, swimming, reading and playing mindless game apps.

  • Christian (Hunter) Wallace

    PhD Student, Second Year
    Hunter earned his B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2015. As a member of the M3 Lab, he has worked with orthopedic surgeons to develop a novel tendon fixation device.

  • Amanda Meppelink

    PhD Student, Second Year
    Amanda received her B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis and worked in the Plastic Surgery Research Laboratory at Massachusetts General Hospital for 4 years before returning to graduate school. In her graduate research, Amanda is particularly interested in combining experimental tissue engineering work with finite element modeling to predict and assess the outcomes of therapies for musculoskeletal injuries. Outside the lab, Amanda enjoys baking whoopie pies, playing basketball, and supporting all things Boston. Go Pats!

  • Ben Anton

    Master's Student, Second Year
    Ben received his Bachelor's Degree in Bioengineering from UC Irvine in 2016. Since joining the M3 lab, he has been using magnetic resonance imaging to study the muscles of athletes.

  • Emily Miller

    Master's Student, First Year
    Emily received her bachelor’s degree in molecular biology and biochemistry with a minor in mathematics from Middlebury College in 2017. Her research at UVA in the M3 lab has been focused on building a finite element model to explore structure-function relationships in lower limb muscles. In her free time she enjoys skiing, playing field hockey, hiking, and exploring Charlottesville.

  • Be Part
    Of Our


    Prospective Graduate Students

    Prospective graduate students interested in joining our research group should apply to our BME graduate program here or contact Dr. Silvia Blemker.


    Bright, hard-working undergraduates interested in working in the lab are invited to attend lab meetings for one semester to become familiar with our research before getting involved with a project. To be considered for a position, please email a cover letter and résumé to Katie Knaus.

Meet our alumni!


Contact Us

M3 Lab Address

415 Lane Road
MR5 Room 2231
Box 800759
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Lab Director

Silvia Blemker, PhD
Associate Professor, Biomedical Engineering
MR5 Room 2133

Here's a map of the UVA hospital area. MR5 is building 20B, and parking is available in the 11th Street Parking Garage - Building 39.