Jill L McNitt-Gray

Professor of Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering
Email mcnitt@usc.edu Office PED B9 Office Phone (213) 740-7902

Center, Institute & Lab Affiliations

  • Biomechanics Research Lab, Director
  • Center for Robotics and Embedded Systems,
  • Center for Excellence in Genomic Science, mentor-Genomic Research Experience for Undergraduates(GREU)
  • Colburn School of Music, Collaborator
  • Department of Veterans Administration, Researcher (WOC)
  • Get SSet Sports Science, Engineering, and Technology Academy, Co-Director
  • Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center, Consultant/Collaborator
  • UCLA Dept of Music, Music Education,
  • USC Athletics, Biomechanics/Performance Consultant
  • USC Center for Excellence in Teaching National Science Foundation Young Scholars Program, Mentor,


Dr. Jill McNitt-Gray PhD FNAK FISB FASB is a Professor in the Departments Biological Sciences and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. She is also the Director of the USC Biomechanics Research Laboratory and is the founding Director of the Integrative and Evolutionary Biology Graduate Program. This interdisciplinary program targets emerging areas at the interface of genomics, evolution, and physiology, and fosters a collective ability to transcend levels of analysis in the area of the life sciences. McNitt-Gray earned an undergraduate degree in mathematics and statistics and received a certification in coaching from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio while competing as a scholarship athlete on the intercollegiate field hockey and gymnastics teams. After working as a Load Research/Load Management for American Electric Power Corporation and coaching at the middle school and high school levels, she returned to graduate school and studied biomechanics at University of North Carolina and Pennsylvania State University. McNitt-Gray has integrated her background in athletics, mathematics, kinesiology, physical therapy, neuromuscular control, and mechanical engineering and specializes in the area of control and dynamics of human movement. She has also served as a biomechanics consultant for the International Olympic Committee, the US Olympic Committee, US Diving, USA Track and Field, USA Gymnastics, US Volleyball Association, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. She has also led research projects sponsored by the IOC Medical Commission as part of the Olympic Games in Atlanta and Sydney, Australia. She is currently translating her research to populations with varied neuromuscular control capabilities including those associated with spinal cord injury and aging. McNitt-Gray’s research, teaching, and service activities address costly societal problems related to musculoskeletal injury during human movements performed under physically demanding conditions (e.g. impact, falls, and repetitive use). Musculoskeletal injuries directly influence the quality of life, limit physical activity, and lead to more chronic disabilities over time (e.g. joint instability, degeneration, osteoarthritis). Identification of mechanisms individuals use to distribute load experienced during contact with the environment enables us to identify risk factors and develop specific methods for performance enhancement and injury prevention and rehabilitation. This line of research has widespread implications for medicine, rehabilitation, ergonomics, and assistive interactive robotics. McNitt-Gray’s research focuses the ongoing interaction between the neural control, musculoskeletal dynamics, and the environment during whole-body movement. Her aim is to determine how the control system utilizes existing capabilities, system dynamics, and interaction with the environment to satisfy task performance objectives without sustaining injury. Through a series of externally funded field and laboratory studies, McNitt-Gray and her research team have worked extensively with the end-users to identify critical problems and determine how the nervous system utilizes interaction forces with the environment (e.g. foot/surface, hand/tool) and musculoskeletal dynamics to satisfy mechanical objectives of well-practiced goal-directed tasks. She has developed a set of innovative research tools that integrate comprehensive biomechanical experimental techniques with subject-specific dynamic models of musculoskeletal system and neuromuscular control. Her research has culminated in a significant body of peer reviewed literature in the control and dynamics of goal-directed tasks and the translation of results through coach-directed, athlete-centered sports biomechanics. The interdisciplinary nature of this research places her at the intersection of multiple disciplines (kinesiology, mechanical and biomedical engineering, physical therapy, robotics, and neuroscience). This unique perspective has helped her build meaningful and lasting bridges between disciplines and transfer basic and applied scientific knowledge to students and end-users as part of her education and service related accomplishments. Undergraduate curricular innovations by McNitt-Gray and her graduate teaching assistants have been recognized by the USC Center for Excellence in Teaching and as a USC Mellon Mentor. She has received career level awards for her research from the American Society of Biomechanics (Jim Hay Award) and the International Society of Biomechanics in Sport (Geoff Dyson Award), for mentoring ( American Society of Biomechanics- Jean Landa Pytel Award), and for science and engineering translation into coaching practices (USA Track and Field- Harmon Brown Award). She has been elected as a Fellow of the National Academy of Kinesiology, American Society of Biomechanics, and the International Society of Biomechanics.


  • Ph.D. Biomechanics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 5/1989
  • M.A. Biomechanics, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 5/1985
  • A.B. Mathematics and Statistics, Coaching Certification, Miami University, 5/1980
  • Tenure Track Appointments

    • Professor, University of Southern California, 02/03/2006 –
    • Joint Appointment Biomedical Engineering, University of Southern California, 01/01/1989 –
  • Summary Statement of Research Interests

    Professor McNitt-Gray studies mechanisms organisms use to control and distribute mechanical load during goal-directed multijoint movements involving external loading.

    Research Keywords

    biomechanics, multijoint movement, impact, motor control, neuroscience, mechanical engineering, injury prevention, performance, sports, dance, music, clinical populations, ergonomics, rehabilitation engineering

    Detailed Statement of Research Interests

    Dr McNitt-Gray’s research focuses on the control and dynamics of physically-demanding goal-directed movements of daily living. Hypotheses tested target mechanisms organisms(including humans)use to control energy transfer during interaction with their environment. This is accomplished by integrating biomechanics-based experimentation, field work, mathematical and dynamic modeling techniques, and computer simulation.

    • Director of USC Biomechanics Research Laboratory, https://dornsife.usc.edu/labs/biomech/research/
  • Journal Article

    • Lee, J., Flashner, H., McNitt-Gray, J. L. (2011). Lee, J., Flashner, H., & McNitt-Gray, J.L. (2011). Estimation of multibody kinematics using position measurements. Journal of Computational and Nonlinear Dynamics. Journal of Computational and Nonlinear Dynamics. Vol. January 2011
    • J.L. Mc Nitt-Gray, J. J. (2011). Raina, S., McNitt-Gray, J.L., Mulroy, S., Requejo, P.S. (2011). Effect of increased load on scapular kinematics during manual wheelchair propulsion in individuals with paraplegia and tetraplegia. Human Movement Science.
    • Munaretto, J. (2011). Munaretto, J., McNitt-Gray, J.L., Flashner, H., & Requejo, P.S. (2011). Effect of reaction force redirection on the upper extremity mechanical demand imposed during manual wheelchair propulsion. Clinical Biomechanics.
    • Raina, S. (2011). Raina, S., McNitt-Gray, J.L., Mulroy, S., & Requejo, P.S. (2011). Effect of recovery patterns on wheelchair propulsion kinetics of users with paraplegia and tetraplegia. Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine.
    • Tseng, Z. (2011). Tseng, Zhijie Jack, McNitt-Gray, J.L., Flashner, H., Wang, X., & Enciso, R. (2011). Model sensitivity and use of the comparative finite element method in mammalian jaw mechanics: mandible performance in the gray wolf, PLoS ONE, 6(4).
    • McNitt-Gray, J. L. (2009). Requejo, P.S., Maneekobkunwong, S., McNitt-Gray, J.L., Adkins, R., & Waters, R. (2009). Influence of hand-rim wheelchairs with rear suspension on seat forces and head accelerations during curb descent landings. Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine, 41: 459-466.
    • McNitt-Gray, J. L. (2007). Mathiyakom, W. *& McNitt-Gray, J.L. & Wilcox, R. (2007). Regulation of angular impulse during two forward translating tasks, Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 23, 149-61. Journal of Applied Biomechanics.
    • Mathiyakom, W., McNitt-Gray, , Wilcox, R. R. (2006). Mathiyakom, W.*, McNitt-Gray, J.L. & Wilcox, R. (2006). Lower extremity control and dynamics during backward angular impulse generation in backward translating tasks, Experimental Brain Research, 169(3):377-88. Experimental Brain Research/Springer. Vol. 169(3), pp. 377-88.
    • McNitt-Gray, (2006). McNitt-Gray, J.L., Requejo, P.S., & Flashner, H. (2006). Multijoint control strategies transfer between tasks, Biological Cybernetics. 94(6):501-10. Biological Cybernetics/Springer. Vol. 94(6), pp. 501-10.
    • Mathiyakom, W., McNitt-Gray, , Wilcox, R. R. (2006). Mathiyakom, W.*, McNitt-Gray, J.L. & Wilcox, R. (2006). Lower extremity control and dynamics during backward angular impulse generation in forward translating tasks, Journal of Biomechanics, 39(6):990-1000. Journal of Biomechanics/Elsevier. Vol. 39(6), pp. 990-1000.
    • Mathiyakom, W. (2004). Mathiyakom, W.*, McNitt-Gray, J.L., Requejo, P.S.*, & Costa, K.* (2004). Modifying center of mass trajectory during sit-to-stand tasks redistributes the mechanical demand across the lower extremity joints, Clinical Biomechanics. 20(1),105-111.
    • McNitt-Gray, J. L. (2001). McNitt-Gray, J.L. Hester, D.M.E.,* Mathiyakom, W.,* & Munkasy, B.A.* (2001). Mechanical demand and multijoint control during landing depend on orientation of the body segments relative to the reaction force. Journal of Biomechanics. 34, 1471–1482.
    • Heuser, F. (1993). Heuser, F. & McNitt-Gray, J.L. (1993). EMG potentials in trumpet players with asymmetrical mouthpiece placement, Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 8(3), 96-102.


    • McNitt-Gray, McNitt-Gray, J.L., Koff, S.R. & Hall, B.L. (1992). The influence of dance training and foot position on landing mechanics, Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 7(3), 87-91.
    • McNitt-Gray, Heuser, F.* & McNitt-Gray, J.L. (1991). EMG potentials prior to tone commencement in trumpet players, Medical Problems of Performing Artists, 6(2), 51-56.
    • Translating Science and Engineering into Practice, https://dornsife.usc.edu/videos/research/516/jill-mcnitt-gray/, 1988
    • Improving Human Performance using Science and Engi, https://pressroom.usc.edu/anatomy-of-a-perfect-dive/, 1988
    • STEM Outreach: USC Biomechanics Research Lab- McNi, https://dornsife.usc.edu/news/stories/1346/springboard-to-teaching-stem/, 1988
    • Multimedia, Multimedia data base for analyzing movement
      http://www.usc.edu/dept/LAS/kinesiology/biomech/gallery.htm, 06/01/1992
    • Biomechanics of Movement: Multimedia Data Base, http://digitallibrary.usc.edu/cdm/landingpage/collection/p15799coll87, 09/01/2008
    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, Fellow, National Academy of Kinesiology, 2023
    • Geoffrey Dyson Award, International Society of Biomechanics in Sports, 2023
    • Hay Award- Research Award, American Society of Biomechanics , 2016/08
    • Harmon Brown Award- USA Track and Field, 2016
    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, Fellow, International Society of Biomechanics, 2015
    • USC Zumberge Research and Innovation Fund Award, Interdisciplinary Research , 2015
    • Fellow (or Equivalent) of National Society in Discipline, Fellow, American Society of Biomechanics, 2013
    • Mellon Mentoring Award for Mentorship of Undergraduate Students, 2010/03
    • USC Distinguished Professor, Gablian Distinguished Professor in Science and Engineering, 2016-2019
    • President-Elect, President, Past-President American Society of Biomechanics, 2009/08/25-2012/08/26
    • Outstanding Research by Undergraduate Students, first place, Interdisciplinary Award for Research in Life Sciences, USC Undergraduate Symposium for Scholarly and Creative Work 2010, Biomechanical analysis of movement strategies in collegiate volleyball players, Rami Hamzey, Michael Hazboun, Darcelle Kimble-Manalo, Kotaro Uyeda, Advisor: McNitt-Gray, J.L, Spring 2010
    • Zumberge Fellow for Interdisciplinary Research with Flashner, H., University of Southern California, 1998, 1998/08/01-1999/12/31
    • USC Innovative Teaching Award, USC Center for Excellence in Teaching Innovative Teaching Award, 1992
    • Winner of Prince Alexandre de Merode Award- Physical Sciences- International Olympic Committee, Medical Commission, 2002. Requejo P.S.*, McNitt-Gray, J.L., & Flashner, H. Flight phase joint control required for successful gymnastics landings. Presented by P.S. Requejo., 1988-1989
  • Administrative Appointments

    • Chair, WiSE-College Committee, 08/20/2009