About Me

Dr. Samuel A. Acuña
(he/him, pronunciation)

Research Assistant Professor,
Department of Bioengineering

Assistant Director,
Center for Adaptive Systems of Brain-Body Interactions

George Mason University


Philosophies

Research Interests 

Biography

Dr. Samuel Acuña grew up in Federal Way, WA. He became interested in biomechanics while an undergraduate at Brigham Young University. His undergraduate research focused on the biomechanics of figure skating and upper limb movement disorders. He was a founding member of the Neuromechanics Research Group where he was mentored by Dr. Steven Charles. He received his BS in Mechanical Engineering in 2012.

In graduate school at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he gained expertise in the biomechanics of gait and motor control with a focus on designing assistive technology to enhance rehabilitation and improve human mobility. During his doctoral training with Dr. Darryl Thelen in the Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab, his graduate research focused on designing neurorehabilitation devices to improve gait after a traumatic brain injury. He recieved the 2017 Young Investigator Award from the Gait and Clinical Motion Analysis Society. He also taught courses on human-centered product design and mentored undergraduate biomedical engineering design teams. He received his MS in Mechanical Engineering in 2015 and his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering in 2019.

He completed postdoctoral training at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center with Dr. Yasin Dhaher. He strategically chose this position to gain first-hand experience navigating a premiere rehabilitation hospital and foster innovation between interdisciplinary teams of engineers, scientists, and clinicians. His research examined neurorehabilitation of gait and the neural changes underlying female musculotendon knee injury. He also mentored senior engineering design teams at the University of Texas at Dallas.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Acuña worked as a biomedical patent advisor at Cooley LLC. He worked with MedTech startup companies on their product designs and helped them navigate the patent procurement process.

He joined George Mason University for additional postdoctoral training to work with Dr. Siddhartha Sikdar in the Applied Biosensing Lab. His research focused on using ultrasound imaging to control upper limb prostheses, as well as identifying ultrasound biomarkers behind chronic neck pain. 

Dr. Acuña is now a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Bioengineering, where he continues to tinker with emerging technology in motor control, rehabilitation, and biomechanics. The overall goal of his research is to integrate rehabilitation engineering with clinical practice through a human-centered design framework. He is also the Assistant Director for the Center for Adaptive Systems of Brain-Body Interactions.

He lives with his wife and son in Fairfax, VA.