“A lot of injury happens at the cellular level, and to figure out how the head transmits the damage to the cells is a difficult question. We try to incorporate a lot of that microstructural information into our models.”

An RMU professor who uses computer simulations of the human head to study damage caused by impact is
part of a $10 million national research project to reduce traumatic brain injuries. Rika Carlsen is one of the scientists taking part in the U.S. Office of Naval Research’s PANTHER program. She designs simulations run at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center to analyze how the skull, fluids, and brain tissue respond to both low- and high-intensity shocks. RMU is one of eight colleges partnering in the PANTHER project, along with Brown University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Southern California, the University of Texas, the University of Wisconsin, Iowa State University, and the Colorado School of Mines.