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Gunshots, falls and helmets – Improving human head models

A postgraduate research opportunity at the University of Otago.


Academic background
Health Sciences
Host campus
Master’s, PhD
Dr Johann Zwirner


Computational and physical human head models are increasingly used to predict or simulate the effects of head impacts aiming at their improved prevention, diagnosis and treatment. For example, head models are used to further improve helmet designs minimizing the head injury risk during impacts. In the forensic field, head models seem to be a promising tool to discriminate blunt force impacts such as falls from abusive head traumas or to distinguish homicidal and suicidal gunshot injuries. Head models allow to gain large ranges of results in a cost- and resource-efficient manner being free of ethical concerns at the same time. Current human head models considerably lack both anatomical detail and biomechanical validation of numerous depicted structures, consequently resulting in unrealistic simulations. Our team addresses this problem using a wide range of exciting techniques such as impact testing devices, 3D-scanning, 3D-printing and various forms of microscopy.

If you are interested in these sort of things, don’t hesitate to send me an email! I’m happy to give you an intro in-person, show you our facilities and introduce you to our team.


Dr Johann Zwirner