Dr. Gwen Bryan is a Research Scientist at IHMC focused on powered exoskeletons. She investigates lower-limb wearable robotic devices aimed at augmenting human performance in clinical, occupational, and military applications and intends to maximize exoskeleton benefits through a human-centered research approach.
At IHMC, Gwen leads the exoskeleton team, which is currently developing a novel augmentative device and continuing research on a rehabilitative device for people with spinal cord injury (SCI). The augmentative exoskeleton is intended to assist U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Management workers during nuclear remediation activities, where it aims to protect worker’s musculoskeletal system by offloading the mass of heavy personal protective equipment. In addition, the rehabilitative exoskeleton is intended to enable a wide variety of locomotor tasks for people with SCI, for example walking up or down stairs, walking across uneven terrain, or increasing self-selected walking speed. The team is uniquely situated to perform exoskeleton research because of the resources and expertise from both the Robotics and Human Performance groups at IHMC.
Gwen joined IHMC after completing her Ph.D. in the Stanford Biomechatronics Lab. During her doctorate, she developed a hip-knee-ankle exoskeleton emulator, a flexible research testbed for rapid iteration of exoskeleton strategies. Gwen then optimized exoskeleton assistance in response to real-time physiological measurements through human-in-the-loop optimization (HILO). With this strategy, she evaluated the impact of exoskeleton assistance on walking economy when assisting the hips, knees, or ankles individually or simultaneously. She also optimized multi-joint exoskeleton assistance to minimize user energy expenditure while walking at different speeds, inclines, and worn loads. Finally, she investigated if exoskeleton users were sensitive to customized assistance patterns.
Outside of work, Gwen enjoys soccer, lifting, painting, and snowboarding. She is always excited to talk about her dogs.