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Kathryn Dainty Davis, PhD
1979 graduate of Human Movement Studies – Biomechanics

Kathryn Davis, continues to have an incredible journey since leaving Penn State. She still collaborates with Biomechanics colleagues on articles and and research from her time in Happy Valley.

K. Davis

After graduation, Kathryn returned to Canada and taught for one year at York University in Toronto. The next adventure was a move to the University of Ottawa where she continued her teaching, research, and began consulting in biomechanics for eight years. This time included working with the Canadian National Figure Skating and National Downhill Ski Teams. Her research focus was automobile impact occupant issues and moved her to the University of California, San Diego. Here she was able to establish an impact laboratory with a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association. Two years later she headed back to Canada to become the Academic Dean of the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College, as well hold adjunct positions at the University of Waterloo and University of Toronto for the next fifteen years. From 1995 – 2000 Kathryn taught and performed research at the University of Toronto as a full professor. It was in 2000 that she accepted a position as a consultant in forensic biomechanics with Vector Scientific in Los Angles. She has worked as a forensic consultant for the past 21 years and is currently a Managing Scientist with Exponent in LA.

K. Davis work

Kathryn credits her education in the Kinesiology department at Penn State University as instrumental in providing her with an incredibly successful career. The required engineering and math classes laid a fantastic foundation for understanding the principles of human movement from a mechanical perspective. The use of technology and development of processes concerned with simulation, were instrumental in performing the research and teaching required to advance the science of biomechanics. Integrating the mechanical understanding with the anatomical and physiological bases of human movement allowed her and others to advance the science of biomechanics to where it is today. The students and especially the faculty, led by Richard Nelson, of the Penn State laboratory in biomechanics, have helped develop a formidable presence worldwide in the advancement of the understanding of human movement. In the coming months, articles will be published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics addressing the contributions of Richard and the Penn State biomechanics laboratory. She is honored to produce one of these papers.

K. Davis grad

Kathryn has many fond memories of her time at Penn State. She enjoyed working in the Biomechanics lab with Richard and fellow students. In fact, she just had a paper published in the Journal of Applied Biomechanics that celebrates the life of Richard and several other colleague contributions.

Her fondest memory is of her graduation as her parents were able to attend despite her father being in the late stages of Parkinson’s disease.

In the last six years Kathryn has fully transitioned to her authentic self as a trans woman. Because of her education and knowledge base, among other things, she has been able to maintain her career and achieve the goals she has set for herself. The process has been instrumental in allowing her to have a good and productive life. Kathryn enjoys a successful career in the biomechanics industry, sings with a local chorus, and is an active volunteer in her community. In addition to these activities, ice hockey continues to be a significant part of her life just as it was when she played for the Penn State Icers in the early 70’s. Kathryn played competitively until age 64 and was able to coach her sons. 

The Kinesiology department is grateful for the ways Kathryn has, and continues, to provide guidance and expertise to students and alumni. Her contributions to the department and biomechanics industry are a great testament to the Penn State “We Are” tradition.