College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Mathematics

Twenty-Seventh Annual
T.G. Ostrom Lecture and Reception

John G. Milton, M.D. Ph.D, Guest Lecturer
March 19, 2008


John Milton, M.D. Ph.D. and Assistant Professor Elissa Schwartz practice stick balancing

The Department of Mathematics is pleased to sponsor the annual T.G. Ostrom Lecture at Washington State University. The 2008 invited guest speaker was John G. Milton, M.D. and Ph.D., who holds the Kenan Chair in Computational Neuroscience at The Claremont Colleges.

Dr. Milton's presentation discussed falling - the largest single cause of accidental death and the most common cause of trauma among the elderly. To minimize the risk of falling, Dr. Milton has looked at how the nervous system balances a stick at the fingertip. If the stick is too short it rapidly falls, but as the length of the stick increases it becomes easier and easier to keep it balanced. Recent studies using high speed motion capture-systems suggest that most of the corrective movements for stick balancing occur on time scales smaller than the physiological time delay. Starting from such analyses, Dr. Milton said that strategies can be devised to decrease the risk of falling in the elderly by making appropriate changes in the design of walking shoes and surfaces.

A reception immediately followed in the Sydney Hacker Lounge of Neill Hall. On March 20th, Dr. Milton was the guest lecturer for the Post-Ostrom Colloquium in Neill Hall 5W.
Department of Mathematics, PO Box 643113, Neill 103, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-3113 Phone: 509-335-3926 Fax: 509-335-1188 Contact Us