Daniel Ferris, Ph.D.

Daniel Ferris
Daniel Ferris, Ph.D.
Professor & Robert W. Adenbaum Professorship (Summer 2017)
Primary Faculty
Biomechanics, neuromechanical control, locomotion and prosthetics
Office Phone: 
(352) 273-9222

Ph.D., Human Biodynamics, University of California, Berkeley, 1998
M.S., Exercise Physiology, University of Miami 1994
B.S., Mathematics Education, University of Central Florida 1992

Research Summary:

Dr. Ferris’ research focuses on the neural control of human locomotion. Specifically he uses mobile brain imaging, robotic lower limb exoskeletons, and bionic lower limb prostheses to investigate how humans control walking and running, and adapt to robotic assistance.

In order to better study the relationship between neural control and body mechanics in human locomotion, Dr. Ferris has developed a collection of robotic lower limb exoskeletons to perturb and assist human movement. He has built exoskeletons for ankle, knee, and hip joints, as well as for the whole limb. By perturbing the relationship between neural commands to the muscles and the resulting mechanics, he can identify general strategies that humans use to control their movement. In addition, the findings from these basic science studies are critical to the future development of robotic devices for assisting patients with neurological and/or musculoskeletal disabilities. There are several research groups around the world that have built robotic lower limb exoskeletons for assisting human locomotion. In every case, the changes in gait mechanics, muscle activation, and/or metabolic energetics produced by the exoskeletons have not achieved the intended outcome. The primary reason why the systems have not produced expected results is that there is a great deal about human locomotion physiology that we still do not fully understand. By testing basic hypotheses about how robotic mechanical forces influence the biomechanics, neural control, and energetics of walking and running, he has provided important insight into the most effective ways to add mechanical assistance for locomotion. Dr. Ferris has demonstrated that different control algorithms and exoskeleton designs can independently have profound effects on the motor adaptation of the user. In tests on patients with neurological disabilities, he has shown that patients with incomplete spinal cord injury can benefit from different types of lower limb mechanical assistance.

Honors and Awards:

  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (AIMBE), 2017
  • Rehabilitation Robotics Faculty Group Leader, University of Michigan, 2010-2017
  • Associate Dean for Research, School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, 2010-2013
  • Graduate Program Chair, School of Kinesiology, University of Michigan, 2006-2009

Selected Publications:

Google Scholar Citations Link 

Jacobs D and Ferris DP (2015) Evaluation of a low-cost pneumatic plantar pressure insole for predicting ground contact kinetics. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, in press.

Snyder KL, Kline JE, Huang HJ, and Ferris DP (2015) Independent component analysis of gaitrelated movement artifact recorded using EEG electrodes during treadmill walking. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, in press.

Huang S, Wensman JP, and Ferris DP (2015) Locomotor adaptation by transtibial amputees walking with an experimental powered prosthesis under continuous myoelectric control. IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, in press.

Koller JR, Jacobs DA, Ferris DP, and Remy CD (2015) Adaptive gain for proportional myoelectric control of a robotic ankle exoskeleton. Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation, 12:97.

Jacobs D and Ferris DP (2015) Estimation of ground contact forces and ankle moment in multiple human locomotion tasks. Journal of Neuroengineering and Rehabilitation, 12:90.