Structural Anatomy & Rehabilitation Sciences

Magdalena N. Muchlinski, PhD, Graduate Advisor for Structural Anatomy
Research and Education Building 232 | Phone: 817-735-2037 | E-mail:

Nicoleta Bugnariu, PhD, Graduate Advisor for Rehabilitation Sciences
LIB 218 E | Phone: 817-735-2976 | E-mail:


Program Description

The Structural Anatomy and Rehabilitation Sciences (SARS) Graduate Program is a collaborative, inter-professional program offered by the Center for Anatomical Sciences and the Department of Physical Therapy through the UNTHSC Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

The SARS program offers both MS and PhD degrees combining research, coursework, and teaching experiences. The program also supports DO/PhD and DPT/PhD dual-degree students. These degrees are designed to develop and train students to serve as faculty members and independent researchers in academic departments at universities, health science centers, and community colleges. The program also provides students the opportunity to obtain skills valuable for employment in industry (e.g., prosthetic engineering, athletic shoe design), the public sector (e.g., Department of Justice, Department of Defense) and healthcare (physical therapy, medicine) .

The SARS program boasts an exceptional track record of placing graduates directly into tenure-track faculty positions, government research positions, competitive residency programs, and professional healthcare employment.

Current SARS graduate students and recent alumni


Research Strengths

The program focuses on structural anatomy, biomechanics, movement science, and evolutionary morphology using advanced experimental, computational, and clinical tools. Major research emphases within the program include, but are not limited to:

  • Neuroscience: Studies investigating the production, learning, and control of movement.
  • Biomechanics & Clinical Anatomy:  Studies investigating the anatomy and mechanical behavior of musculoskeletal tissues from biomedical perspectives.
  • Evolutionary Anatomy & Functional Morphology: Studies investigating the structure and function of human and animal anatomy from evolutionary and/or anthropological perspectives.
  • Rehabilitation Science: Studies investigating the analysis, design, and development of orthopedic and rehabilitation protocols, techniques, tools, and assistive devices.
  • Education & Pedagogy: Studies investigating the teaching and learning of anatomy/movement science through the development of novel educational tools, techniques, and assessment strategies.


Research Facilities

Human Movement Performance Laboratory: The 2,300 square foot HMP laboratory is equipped with a motion analysis system for kinematic testing of normal and pathological motion, force plates for measurement of center of pressure, and computational facilities for creating patient-specific models and simulations.

Bioskills Laboratory: The Bioskills Lab supports a wide spectrum of cadaver-based research including investigations of human variation, biomechanics, neuroscience, applied anatomy (development of clinical protocols and devices), and anatomy-focused educational pedagogy.

Comparative Morphology Laboratory:  The Comparative Morphology Lab facilitates cutting-edge evolutionary and biomedical investigations of anatomy in non-human species.  The lab supports both gross dissection and histological analyses.

Morphometrics Laboratory: The Morphometrics Lab supports advanced quantitative analyses of anatomy via 3D techniques using modalities such as 3D laser scanning, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The lab is also equipped with advanced 3D printing technologies for educational, outreach, and research purposes.

Discovery Centers: A part of the UNTHSC “Open Innovation Initiative”, the two Discovery Centers on campus provide shared laboratory space for students and faculty to access state-of-the-art equipment not available in most research labs.


SARS Faculty

Nicoleta Bugnariu, PhD, DPT (Physical Therapy) – Neuroscience, sensorimotor integration, balance control, falls prevention, virtual environments.

Hao Liu, MPT, MD, PhD (Physical Therapy) – Neuroscience, anatomy, balance improvement, geriatric research, bioengineering of assistive ambulatory devices (AADs).

Rehana Lovely, PhD (Anatomical Sciences) – Human anatomical variation, anatomy education and community outreach research.

Scott Maddux, PhD (Anatomical Sciences) – Biological anthropology, human evolution and variation, respiratory biomechanics, climatic adaptation and thermoregulation.

Rachel Menegaz, PhD (Anatomical Sciences) – Evolutionary biology, craniofacial biomechanics and feeding, developmental plasticity, osteogenesis imperfecta.

Haylie Miller, PhD (Physical Therapy) – Visuomotor integration, Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental cognitive neuroscience.

Magdalena Muchlinski, PhD (Anatomical Sciences) – Biological anthropology, primate bioenergetics, sensory ecology, musculoskeletal histology.

Rita Patterson, PhD (Dept. of Manipulative Medicine) – Biomedical engineering, hand and wrist biomechanics, kinematics, motion capture.

Rustin Reeves, PhD (Anatomical Science) – Musculoskeletal biomechanics, anatomy education and outreach research.

Metin Yavuz, D.Eng (Physical Therapy) – Biomedical engineering, foot biomechanics, diabetic foot, medical device design, pressure ulcers.


Degree Plans

Both MS and PhD degree programs may be entered by applicants holding a Bachelor’s degree.  Students do not typically complete both programs (the M.S. degree is not a prerequisite for admission to the Ph.D. program).  Completion of the MS degree typically requires 2-3 years; the PhD degree is generally completed in 4-5 years.

Detailed information regarding each degree can be found in the SARS HANDBOOK 2018-2019.


Application Procedures

All applicants to the Structural Anatomy and Rehabilitation Sciences (SARS) Graduate Program must apply through the UNTHSC Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences online application system.  Specific application guidelines are available for each degree: MS application guide; PhD application guide (note the SARS Master of Science degree is a “traditional” MS degree at UNTHSC).

The annual application deadline for both degrees is February 1 for fall matriculation.

Individuals interested in applying to the SARS graduate program are strongly encouraged to inform the SARS Graduate Advisor (contact info above) or a prospective SARS faculty mentor of their intent prior to submitting an application.


Financial Support

As of Fall 2016, the financial support offered to Ph.D. students is $32,962 ($26,185 after tuition and fees) annually for up to 5 years.  Acceptance into the SARS graduate program does not guarantee nor imply financial support. Offers of financial support are specifically stated either in the offer of admission or in separate correspondence.


Conference Travel Awards

Anatomy Travel Award Program (Center for Anatomical Sciences): $500 per student, preference for presenters. Rolling deadline. Application available here.

Graduate Student Travel Award (Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences): $500 per student, preference for presenters.  Requires $250 match from department or major professor. Deadlines: January 1 (April 1-September 30 travel), July 1 (October 1-March 31 travel).  Application available on GSBS website.

Professional Development Award (Graduate Student Association): $600 per student for conference presenters; $400 for workshop attendees.  Deadlines: August 14 (August-September travel), September 21 (October-December travel), January 5 (January-March travel), March 23 (April-May travel), May 21 (June-August travel).  Application available on GSA Orgsync website.



This page was last modified on March 20, 2019