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Siston, Robert


I am a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and, by courtesy, in Biomedical Engineering, Orthopaedics, and the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. I received my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2000 and my Masters and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University in 2002 and 2005, respectively. After a one-year post-doc at Stanford University, I returned to Ohio State as an assistant professor in 2006. During my time here, I have held a number of leadership positions such as directing the Department's undergraduate research program (Aug 2011- Aug 2019), serving as the Associate Chair for Administration (July 2019-Aug 2021), and the Interim Chair of the Department (Aug 2021- Jan 2023) before becoming the Chair in February 2023.

The Department is home to academic programs in Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear engineering, with over 80 faculty and 30 staff educating and serving about 1900 undergraduate and 300 graduate students.  As Chair of MAE, I am responsible for oversight of a $16M operational budget and facilities in the 230,000-square foot Scott Laboratory, with annual research expenditures of about $23M.

My research seeks to apply principles of mechanical engineering to the treatment of human movement disorders and sits at the intersection of orthopedics and neuromuscular biomechanics. During my time as a doctoral student at Stanford University, I created and effectively utilized what is believed to be the only image-free navigation system for total knee arthroplasty in the United States that is not affiliated with a medical device company. At Ohio State, my students and I have collaborated with mechanical engineers, radiologists, orthopaedic surgeons, and physical therapists to create novel tools that interface with our navigation system to objectively measure knee laxity during a variety of surgeries. With those technologies, we can objectively characterize surgical technique inside of the operating room and relate those measurements to a patient's post-operative outcomes. Our work inside of an operating room is complemented by investigations that use muscle-driven simulations of movement and EMG-based studies to identify how forces in muscles contribute to the ability to perform key activities of daily living such as walking, rising from a chair, and stair climbing and how the activation of muscles in groups (known as motor modules) may relate to post-operative function. Our work has been sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, industry, and philanthropic groups. I am the recipient of the Clinical Biomechanics Award from the American Society of Biomechanics, The Richard C. O'Connor Award from the Arthroscopy Association of North America (2x winner), and the Lumley Research Award from the Ohio State College of Engineering.

I am equally proud of my teaching accomplishments. I created a senior capstone design series in which mechanical and biomedical engineering seniors collaborate with graduate students and faculty in Occupational Therapy to develop assistive devices for persons with disabilities. That class was funded by a NSF grant and, after being adopted by the Department of Biomedical Engineering, a similar grant from the NIH. I was one of the first professors in the department to "flip" a class, recording videos for a large junior-level, and then shared my experience with multiple other faculty in the department. I am one of the founders and co-directors of the MAE department’s Future Academic Scholars Training program (FAST), where PhD students learn about aspects of becoming a successful professor and “how to teach” at the university level. Our graduates have gone on to faculty positions at a range of institutions, including MIT, The University of Cincinnati, and Otterbein University. I was a participant, and subsequent panelist, for the National Academy of Engineering's Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium.  As of result of my work in teaching, I have been fortunate to receive the University’s Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching, the David C. McCarthy Engineering Teaching Award and the Boyer Award for Excellence in Teaching Innovations from the Ohio State College of Engineering, and the Michael Moran Teaching Excellence Award from the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering.

I reside in Dublin, Ohio with my wife Natalie, whom I met at Lincoln House as an undergraduate at Ohio State. I eventually proposed to her at Mirror Lake on Homecoming Weekend. Our 2 girls, Mary Beth and Katie, were also born at Ohio State. Two dogs, a Pyredoodle named Olive and a Bernese Mountain Dog named Molly, and 1 guinea pig, Nibbles, complete our family. In my spare time, I enjoy training for and participating in endurance events (2x Ironman 70.3, 3x marathon, multiple half-marathons, etc.), coaching girls youth soccer, and cooking.




  • orthopaedics (especially of the lower extremity)
  • neuromuscular biomechanics
  • computer simulations of human movement
  • surgical navigation
  • rehabilitation
  • hybrid and project-based learning