Biomechanist researches how to improve and maximize a runner's performance with running-shoe design.

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BIOMECHANIST
Stacy Steffan

What do you do? I work at Brooks Running Company as a biomechanist, researching how we can improve and maximize a runner’s performance by evaluating how our shoes interact with the runner. When we design our running shoes, we look at the runner’s anatomy, physiology, and most important, experience in the shoe — which is where my job comes into play. I don’t just stop at the foot, but also research how our apparel affects the efficiency, comfort and performance of the runner.

How did you get started in that field? Originally, the plan was to become an oceanographer; however, my friend suggested I audit her functional anatomy course, and at that point, I was sold. I never looked back and found my passion in the pursuit of exercise science and biomechanics. I was fortunate enough to study under an amazing mentor who helped guide me to where I am now, and the rest is history!

What’s a typical day like? Beyond the emails, meetings and coffee talk with co-workers, a big part of my day is recruiting our local LabRats into the Brooks lab for validation testing on our shoes and apparel. The studies we conduct with our LabRats examine the effectiveness of current Brooks product in meeting runners’ needs, and help inform the development of new technologies and products that help runners perform their best. I also get to play with fun and geeky equipment such as 3D cameras, force plates and high-speed and infrared cameras, to name just a few.

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What’s the best part of the job? Hands down, building the LabRats program for our brand. Most often it doesn’t even feel like work when I get to work with runners of all shapes and hear about how running has positively influenced their lives, and the impact our product has had on them. Bringing smiles to people’s faces daily never gets old!

What surprises people about your work? I think the biggest surprise is how much testing we put into each shoe we create. Take the Adrenaline GTS, for instance. It’s a shoe that has been a staple in our line for years, but we’ve never settled and are always driving to improve our shoes while providing the best running experience.

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