School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

Keeping on her toes – Meet Lauren Welte

PhD Candidate in Mechanical and Materials Engineering

by Phil Gaudreau

Lauren Welte

You see them every day. You might rely on them to get from point A to B. But have you taken a moment to think about how your feet work?

For Lauren Welte, PhD candidate in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, unlocking the secrets of these important – yet somewhat mysterious – extremities have been her focus for the past three years.

“We use bi-planar x-ray and ultrasound technology to look at individual foot bones and model tissues around those bones to help us understand the fundamental science of how our feet work,” she explains from her research lab in Hotel Dieu Hospital. “Having our lab situated within the hospital provides stronger links with surgeons, and with patients who have pathologies that we can recruit for our research.”

Lauren’s interest in human movement started during her undergraduate degree at Queen’s. Originally from Calgary, she enrolled in Queen’s after hearing about the strong school spirit, the community at Queen’s, and the reputation of the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.

In her third year, she dipped her toe into human mobility research through a project with Dr. Kevin Deluzio looking a little bit higher up the leg – at knee braces. Then, during her fourth year, Dr. Michael Rainbow joined the Faculty and was seeking fourth-year students for foot-related research projects. That project turned into Lauren enrolling in a master’s and, when that project became too large for a master’s, she decided to stay for a PhD.

“After seven year at Queen’s, I have zero regrets,” she says. “I am passionate about what I do, which is why I wanted to see it turned into a larger project. I also wanted to remain involved in a study that Dr. Rainbow is leading – he has been a great supervisor.”

Lauren is also excited about a project that is getting underway, looking at a painful foot condition called plantar fasciitis. The common treatment for plantar fasciitis is to fit the patient with custom foot orthoses – but sometimes orthotic devices work and sometimes they don’t, and it is not always clear why. So, Lauren is looking at how orthoses work on patients with healthy feet and then comparing it against those who are suffering from plantar fasciitis.

When she isn’t busy studying feet, she is getting good use out of hers enjoying the great outdoors. Lauren is a little over halfway done her trek to become a ‘46er’ – that is, hiking to the peak of 46 mountains in the Adirondack region of northern New York just south of the university. She hopes to complete the remaining 19 peaks sometime in 2019.

Learn more about Lauren in this recent Queen’s Gazette article.

Would you like to explore Graduate Studies in Mechanical and Materials Engineering? Visit the Department’s website.