Karen Nolan ’98

Mastering the physics of movement

Karen Nolan '98

Photograph by: Lisa Godfrey

Dr. Karen Nolan works as a research scientist at the Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Center in New Jersey, where she recently completed a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at the prestigious medical rehabilitation hospital. Her research assesses the effect of stroke and traumatic brain injury on patient mobility, and she recently received her first federal grant to study how orthotic intervention affects gait. She loves her work with patients and feels gratified knowing her expertise in biomechanics helps to create a better quality of life for an injured person.

When not at work, Nolan plays volleyball - avidly. A competitor in local leagues, she has even gone on to regional and national competitions. Admitted to the St. Joe's Athletic Hall of Fame last year for her prowess on the courts here, Nolan says being an athlete led naturally to a career in the physics of movement, and taught her to be a leader and a team player.

"Those are skills that I have to incorporate into my work every day," she says.

The support of her husband and her parents who "told me that I could do anything I put my mind to" have contributed to her success, Nolan says. She also fondly remembers Dr. Sue Kelly at St. Joe's. "I absolutely loved Dr. Kelly, because she was one of the first teachers who didn't put up with my nonsense and made me work harder and be better. I told her the day I graduated that maybe I would be a Ph.D. like her someday. She said, 'I know you will.'"

Karen (Heslin) Nolan '98
B.S., Physical Education
M.S., Auburn University, Physiology
Ph.D., University of Toledo, Biomechanics and Anatomy
Research scientist, Kessler Medical Rehabilitation Research and Education Center, West Orange, N.J.