University of Alberta

Heather Williams

Shapes Task

Shapes Task

Motion Capture Screenshot

Motion Capture Screenshot

About ME

I graduated with a B.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Alberta in 2017. During the summers of 2014, 2015 and 2016, I volunteered at the Bionic Limbs for Improved Natural Control (BLINC) Lab. As an undergraduate researcher in the lab, I conducted e-NABLE prosthetic hand design testing and evaluations, helped to quantify interface pressure in an upper limb prosthetic socket (using Tekscan force measurement and pressure mapping sensors and software), and carried out testing for the buckling of cables used in tactile feedback. It was this volunteer research experience that fuelled my desire to pursue a thesis-based Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. My research areas of interest include upper limb prosthetic design and the development of standardized statistical methods to measure the effectiveness of such designs.


  • Dr. Albert Vette
  • Dr. Jacqueline Hebert

Research Interests:

  • Upper limb prosthetic design
  • Development of standardized statistical methods to measure effectiveness of prosthetic design



My research is part of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Hand Proprioception and Touch Interfaces (HAPTIX) project and is guided by the supervision of Dr. Albert Vette and Dr. Jacqueline Hebert, Director of the BLINC Lab. My research will aid in the understanding of upper body compensations that prosthetic users make, so that future device designs facilitate more natural arm and trunk movements. To date, researchers at the BLINC lab have established four functional tasks that can be used to assess upper limb function in prosthetic users. They have also systematically investigated different upper body marker sets (known as kinematic models) to determine what works best for the purpose of capturing the motions used in these four functional tasks.

My research goal is to confirm that the recommended method for capture of three-dimensional upper body kinematics data, meets the requirements of experimentation excellence for upper limb motion research. To accomplish this, I am validating that the BLINC Lab’s four functional tasks, kinematic model, and motion capture process can be used to analyze the upper body kinematics (including arm, hand, and trunk motion) of both non-disabled people and prosthetic users.

I use motion capture technology (OptiTrack system) to capture upper body kinematics, Motive software for optical motion capture control, and the MATLAB programming language for kinematic analysis.

I also attended Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s 2-week Human Movement Analysis Course in July-August 2017, to acquaint myself with movement capture techniques and their use in sports and rehabilitation setting.



  • Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship (NSERC CGS-M) – Master’s Program – 2018
  • Alberta Innovates Technology Futures (AITF) Graduate Student Scholarship – 2017
  • University of Alberta Queen Elizabeth II Graduate Scholarship – Master’s Level – 2017
  • University of Alberta Master's Recruitment Scholarship (Thesis-Based Master’s) – 2017
  • numerous academic, leadership, and USport athletic undergraduate scholarships


  • 2nd place in the Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering, and Biotransport Conference (SB3C) Undergraduate Design Competition – June 2017, Tucson AZ
  • Academic All-Canadian status as an undergraduate varsity volleyball athlete



  • Jonathon S. Schofield, Katherine R. Schoepp, Heather E. Williams, Jason P. Carey, Paul D. Marasco, Jacqueline S. Hebert, “Characterization of interfacial socket pressure in transhumeral prostheses: A case series”, PLoS One 12(6):e0178517, June 2017.
  • Vincent Castonguay-Siu, Dalen Mimeault, Pratik Shah, Craig Trischuk, Heather Williams, Dr. Michael Lipsett, “Design and Analysis of a Soft-Robotic Exoskeleton for the Restoration of Hand Function”, Summer Biomechanics, Bioengineering and Biotransport Conference Proceedings, Tucson, Arizona, June 2017.