Sophia Ulman

Jan 27, 2020 / Sports Medicine

Get to Know our Staff: Sophia Ulman, Movement Science Lab

What is your role at the hospital? What do you do on a daily basis? 
I am the assistant director of the Movement Science Lab (MSL) at the Frisco campus. In our lab, we use motion capture technology to analyze movement patterns of patients and/or athletes. Similar technology is used to create video games and special effects in movies. I love working in the MSL because every day looks different. Some days we get concussion patients who come into the lab the day they are diagnosed to participate in research, or we might see a patellofemoral instability patient who has recently been cleared to return to sport. Other days, I spend my time processing data or writing a research paper. Recently, I have loved mentoring our high school and college interns while they were on winter break. We stay on our toes down in the lab.    
What do you enjoy most about Scottish Rite for Children?
I absolutely love sharing what we do in the lab. We get quite a few tours that come through including students, medical staff and/or community partners. I enjoy describing what motion capture is, how we use it to help our patients and what we are working on in regard to injury prevention for youth athletes.  
What was your first job? What path did you take to get here? How long have you worked here?
My first job was working at a local basketball gym - cleaning the floors, running the concession stand and working the clock/book for games. I worked numerous jobs throughout high school and undergrad, and my favorite job while at Duke University was working for the Sports Information Office, writing stat sheets and transcribing press conference interviews.

My path to Scottish Rite started the summer after my sophomore year when I shadowed one of Dr. Ellis’ surgeries. He was a fantastic resource for me. After sharing my interests in biomedical engineering and biomechanics, he referred me to Dr. Tulchin-Francis. The following summer I had the opportunity to intern in the Movement Science Lab in Dallas, which led to a student position in the K-Lab at Duke Medical Center (Coach K’s Human Performance Lab). In this lab, I helped with biomechanical assessments of professional athletes and sport-specific patient populations. I had the opportunity to work with an extremely experienced and successful medical staff.

These two internships prepared me for my graduate program at Virginia Tech where I completed my Ph.D. in collaboration with the Army Research Lab. My dissertation investigated performance prediction and injury prevention in the military domain using biomechanics. This work was directly related to current sports research and led me back to Scottish Rite for Children. I have been working here since June, and I am super excited for what we have already accomplished and what we have in the works for future research.
What’s the coolest or most interesting thing you’re working on right now?
In the Movement Science Lab, we recently started the SAFE Program (Specialized Athletes Functional Evaluation). We are excited to analyze elite athletes’ movements pre-injury to see if there are any movement discrepancies or deficiencies in specialized athletes compared to a multi-sport or non-elite athlete. Additionally, all participants will be participating in injury surveillance for a year after testing, which will be extremely interesting to observe.
What are you currently watching on Netflix?
Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez.
Who would you most like to swap places with for a day?
I would love to switch places with one of Coach K’s (Duke University basketball coach, Mike Krzyzewski) assistant coaches for a day. In my opinion, he is one of the best coaches in basketball history (or all sports) and an obvious leader in his field. I would love the opportunity to learn from him and pick his brain for a day.
What is a fun or interesting fact about your hometown?
My hometown is Argyle, TX, like the sweater/sock pattern.

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not working? 
Spending time with family and friends, attending sporting events in the community and running.

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