Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Imaging Lab (Souza Lab)

Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Imaging Lab (Souza Lab)

The Biomechanics and Musculoskeletal Imaging Lab (BMIL) is dedicated to the investigation of biomechanics associated with lower extremity orthopedic pathology. We use 3D motion analysis, quantitative MRI, multi modal dynamometry and EMG to understand predictors of disease progression. The Director, Dr. Richard Souza, PT, PhD, is the Vice Chair for Research and Professor in the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science. The team consists of clinicians (including physical therapists, sports medicine physicians, and radiologists), engineers, exercise physiologists, and computer scientists. The goal of this lab is to identify and evaluate potential prevention and rehabilitation tools for the treatment of patients with lower extremity orthopedic pathology. We are funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, the Orthopaedic Research Education Foundation, and the California Physical Therapy Association PT Fund.


Richard Souza, PhD

Richard B. Souza, PT, PhD, ATC, CSCS
[email protected]


Dr. Souza is a physical therapist and research scientist with expertise in the biomechanical analysis of lower extremity orthopaedic pathology. He obtained his B.S. in exercise science from the University of California, Davis in 1998, and his Master’s degree in physical therapy from Samuel Merritt College in 2002. In 2008, he received his Ph.D. in biokinesiology (major field: biomechanics) from the University of Southern California. His doctoral dissertation was titled “The Influence of Abnormal Hip Kinematics on Patellofemoral Joint Dysfunction.” He joined UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging in May 2008 as a postdoctoral scholar, funded by the National Space and Biomedical Research Institute to investigate the influence of non-weight-bearing on articular cartilage biochemistry. He is currently the Vice Chair for Research and a Full Professor with joint appointments in Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science, Radiology and Biomedical Imaging, and Orthopaedic Surgery. His research interests are focused on advanced quantitative magnetic resonance imaging of the lower extremity and biomechanics of human movement. He is involved in projects that evaluate the influence of loading behavior on cartilage health and to determine effectiveness of prevention and rehabilitation strategies on tissue biochemistry.

Alyssa Bird
PhD Student
[email protected]


Alyssa obtained her B.S. in Kinesiology with a concentration in Exercise Science from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2017. Later that year, she joined the Department of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Science as part of the first Ph.D. in Rehabilitation Science cohort. Alyssa is currently specializing in musculoskeletal biomechanics, focusing her research interests on the relationship between lower extremity pathologies such as hip osteoarthritis and joint health. Her current research utilizes motion analysis and quantitative magnetic resonance imaging to investigate the role of joint loading and tissue health in the development and progression of hip osteoarthritis.

Tzu-Chieh (Jennifer) Liao, PT, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]


Dr. Liao is a biomechanist and physical therapist with expertise in lower extremity biomechanics. She received her Ph.D. in Biokinesiology from University of Southern California in 2017. Her doctoral dissertation was titled “The influence of tibiofemoral kinematics and kinetics on patella cartilage stress: a comparison of recreational runners with and without patellofemoral pain.” She is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Musculoskeletal Quantitative Imaging Research Group in the UCSF Department of Radiology. Her research interest lies in identifying the biomechanical factors contributing to musculoskeletal pathology, quantifying disease development and progression through advanced imaging, and with an exploration of the efficacy of the treatment. She is currently involved in projects that evaluate the natural etiology of hip osteoarthritis and the development of knee osteoarthritis following anterior cruciate ligament surgery.

Carla Kinnunen
Clinical Research Coordinator
[email protected]


Carla Kinnunen obtained her B.S. in Behavioral Neuroscience from University of San Diego in 2017. In July 2017, she joined the Musculoskeletal Quantitative Imaging Research Group in the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging as a summer research student. Her work focused on understanding the correlation between intramuscular fat in gluteus muscles and hip pathologies like femoroacetabular impingement through use of quantitative magnetic resonance imaging. She was later hired on as a Staff Research Associate to continue her student work. In September 2018 she transitioned to Clinical Research Coordinator and coordinates various studies focusing on osteoarthritis.

Tijana Popovic, MS
Staff Research Associate
[email protected]


Tijana received her Master’s degree in Exercise, Fitness, and Health Promotion (major field: biomechanics) from the George Mason University, Virginia in 2016. She served as a graduate research and undergraduate teaching assistant at GMU for two years and has been involved with several studies in Sport Medicine Assessment Research & Testing (S.M.A.R.T.) Laboratory. She completed her Master’s thesis titled “The effect of reduced relative implicit and explicit feedback on lower extremity jump-landing mechanics.” Tijana joined the Musculoskeletal Quantitative Imaging Research Group at the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging in October 2016 as a Staff Research Associate II. Her research interests focus on development and progression of hip osteoarthritis with the aid of advanced quantitative MRI and motion analysis.

Koren Roach, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow
[email protected]


Dr. Roach is a biomedical engineer with expertise in lower-limb biomechanical analyses. Dr. Roach earned a B.S. in biomedical engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 2004. Following graduation, she worked in industry for several years designing medical devices that ranged from advanced energy laproscopic devices and cardiac ablation catheters to orthopaedic instruments for total joint replacement surgery. In 2018, Dr. Roach earned a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering at the University of Utah. Her graduate research focused on the implementing a dual fluoroscopy system to determine three-dimensional motion of bones in the foot and ankle. Foot and ankle biomechanics have been an under-investigated line of research due to the anatomical complexity of the foot and ankle and the advanced imaging techniques required to accurately measure bone motion in this region. Dr. Roach joined the UCSF Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging in 2018 as a Postdoctoral Scholar. Her current research is focused on applying innovative time-series analysis techniques to gait biomechanics to develop machine learning models that can accurately predict early-stage hip OA.


A complete list of Souza publications can be found at the bottom of Richard Souza's profiles page.

Director of BMIL

Associate Professor in Resid.