Predicting the load-bearing capabilities of bones – Author interview with Zartasha Mustansar
What can a 4D view of bone structure tell us about the range of mechanisms that occur under axial loading in a typical vertebrate long bone? PeerJ recently published A study of the progression of damage in an axially loaded Branta leucopsis femur using X-ray computed tomography and digital image correlation by Zartasha Mustansar, Samuel McDonald, William Irvin Sellers, Phillip Lars Manning, Tristan Lowe, Philip J. Withers, and Lee Margetts, which offers great insights into the deformation mechanisms and progression. We interviewed Zartasha Mustansar about the findings and the computational techniques used to understand the deformation behavior of bones.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am an Assistant Professor at The National University of Science and Technology (NUST) Islamabad. After earning a PhD from the University of Manchester, UK, I started working broadly towards Biomedical Engg./Sciences. My work is focused dedicatedly on mechanics and simulations of bone and brain specifically; and materials (in general) using numerical (FEM) and computer aided techniques (CAD) with state-of-the-art methods including computational image-based modeling.
I am always seeking to understand secret underlying mechanisms of materials, their behavior, and responses to the external loading either mechanical or environmental. I am a great fan of Julius Wolff (1836–1902) who found the basics of mechanics of materials in nature. My further research interests include, Bio-mechanics, Modeling and Simulation, Advanced Biomechanical systems, Musculo-skeleton modeling.
Can you briefly explain the research you published in PeerJ?
The study we published in PeerJ is one of its kinds due to the fact, in the literature to-date, scientists have been trying to investigate deformation behavior of bones on small cubes or specimens. However, the response of bone as a whole to external loading has been a missing link in the literature. By using X-ray computed tomography to track the mechanical response of a vertebrate (Barnacle goose) long bone subjected to an axial compressive load, which is increased gradually until failure, we are able to achieve it. The results highlight that bone experiences brittle (notch formation and cracking), ductile (thinning, tearing and necking) and elastic (buckling) modes of deformation. Progressive deformation, leading to cracking was studied in detail using digital image correlation.
What kinds of lessons do you hope the research community takes away from the research?
The results of this study will be of interest to a broad community of researchers who are using computer modeling to predict the load bearing capabilities of bone in various scenarios. Bone’s response to loading is complex and occurs due to mechanisms that take place at a lower length scale than the resolution of the X-ray computed tomography data. The study provides an overall insight into deformation mechanisms inside vertebrate long bones, which is not possible otherwise with the naked eye. This study can also serve as a great guide to the research groups who are seeking to investigate damage progression in materials. The results are promising and can also help as a guideline for head impact injuries and design of reasonable impactors in damage studies in future.
How was your publishing experience with us?
I got a thorough review on this study, relevant fair and impressive. The reviewer’s comments improved the quality of our paper. I also got 100 views on the day paper was published, which was quite exciting. Editors were helpful and responsive.
Would you submit again, and would you recommend that your colleagues submit?
I am sure; I am looking forward to publishing more with PeerJ.
Anything else you would like to add?
I am really thankful to my team, especially my mentor Dr Lee Margetts. He has invested very dedicatedly, his time and knowledge in this research. We have a great research community at Manchester, UK and I have extended the same research culture at National University of Science & Technology Islamabad. I believe, this is all team work which has made many great researches possible.