Dr. Megan Killian is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware. Dr. Killian’s laboratory studies the mechanisms of adaptation and growth of musculoskeletal tissues and joints (e.g., tendon-bone attachment; hip joint) with the goal of leveraging these mechanisms to improve orthopaedic healing and regeneration. To address these challenges, Megan has developed several small animal models to study the onset and progression of mechanically-induced joint disorders. The Killian Lab approaches this problem from an engineering, physiology, and clinical perspective and uses a wide range of tools and techniques such as mechanical testing, optogenetics, transgenic mouse models, and engineered materials to study healing and regeneration.
Megan is a native Michigander and grew up downriver from Detroit in a small, rural town where her father was a steelworker and mother was a tax accountant. Megan was the first in her family to attend a 4-year college and received a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Michigan Technological University. At Michigan Tech, Megan was a three-sport athlete (XC, Nordic skiing, and Track and Field) and learned to ski when she joined the team. Her participation in NCAA endurance sports strengthened her interest in movement science and biomechanics. She then pursued her interests in biomechanics at Montana State University, where she completed a M.S. in Exercise Science and Human Movement Biomechanics with Michael Hahn (now Associate Professor and Director of the Bowerman Sports Science Clinic at the University of Oregon). Her interests in biomechanics were strengthened even more, and she returned to Michigan Tech for a Ph.D. in BME with Tammy Haut Donahue (currently the founding chair of BME at the University of Massachusetts Amherst).
Upon completing her Ph.D. in 2010, Megan moved to Saint Louis, Missouri, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Stavros (Steve) Thomopoulos in Orthopaedic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine. Her research focused on rotator cuff development and degeneration, and she worked closely with orthopaedic surgeons to develop new animal models of joint instability and degeneration. Her work in this area earned her the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (F32) and the Children’s Discovery Fellowship.
Megan started her laboratory as an Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Delaware in 2016 where she continues work in these areas. She was the Co-Chair of the Gordon Research Seminar on Musculoskeletal Biology and Bioengineering in 2016 and a member of the Advocacy Committee for the Orthopaedic Research Society. In 2017, she received a K12 from the Interdisciplinary Rehabilitation Engineering Research Career Development Program. She attended the Training in Grantsmanship for Rehabilitation Research in 2018 and was awarded an R03 from NICHD in 2018 to study the contributions of skeletal muscle loading during rotator cuff maturation and healing. She has also received funding from University of Delaware Research Foundation, Delaware Center for Translational Research, Delaware Biosciences Center for Advanced Technology Applied Research Collaborations, and Delaware Rehabilitation Institution COBRE. In 2018, she was awarded the Journal of Orthopaedic Research Early-Career Award for her work in hip instability.
Megan is passionate about increasing the engagement of women in STEM fields, especially orthopaedics and engineering, which was a major draw for her to UD (which is the headquarters for The Perry Initiative, an outreach program for high school and medical school women aimed at encouraging women to pursue careers in engineering and orthopaedic surgery). Megan’s mentoring style follows principles of the growth mindset and her laboratory is populated with engaged graduate and undergraduate students from diverse educational backgrounds. This diversity brings an array of perspectives and expertise to her research group. She has hosted four high school students and five REU students for summer research and has mentored undergraduate students at UD from a diverse set of majors, including Nursing, Animal Biosciences, Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, Biology, Political Science, and Mechanical Engineering.
She is also a peer mentor through UD and led a team of all-women STEM faculty through the UD Faculty Achievement Program. As an active member of New PI Slack, Megan initiated the New PI Slack Faculty Success Program and has organized seven small writing and mentoring groups, which are modeled after the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity Faculty Success Program “Bootcamp” approach.