Benjamin Conner

College of Medicine – Phoenix
Year Entered Program: 
Grad Year: 
Degrees Received: 
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Clinical Translational Sciences, University of Arizona; May 2022
  • Master of Science in Biomechanics and Movement Science, University of Delaware; August 2017
  • Bachelor of Science in Biological Science with Honors in Biological Anthropology, Pennsylvania State University; May 2015
Thesis Advisor: 
Zachary Lerner, PhD
Thesis Research: 

Resistive robotic gait training to restore neuromuscular function in cerebral palsy

About Me: 

I attended Pennsylvania State University for my undergraduate, where I was first exposed to research under the advisement of Dr. Tim Ryan, a physical anthropologist well known for his expertise in functional and evolutionary morphology. My experience with Dr. Ryan instilled in me a desire to study how our structure informs our function, or how and why we move the way we do. This interest took me to the University of Delaware, where I studied the biomechanics of musculoskeletal development and balance in children with cerebral palsy under Dr. Jeremy Crenshaw and Dr. Christopher Modlesky. My interactions with these children and their families has motivated me to pursue training as a physician scientist, where I can acquire the knowledge and skills that will allow me to make a meaningful difference in the lives of my patients, with the ultimate goal of enabling movement and independence in all individuals with physical disabilities. I completed my PhD in the NAU Biomechatronics Lab (; PI: Dr. Zach Lerner), where I studied the use of robotic exoskeletons for the neurorehabilitation of individuals with cerebral palsy.

Outside of school, I enjoy fly-fishing, hiking, reading, traveling, and spending time with my wife and pets.

Honors & Awards: 
  • Tech Launch Arizona App Challenge Awardee, 2021
  • Delsys’ Donation Initiative Scholarship, 2020
  • Outstanding Graduate Student Award, 2017; Department of Kinesiology and Applied Physiology, University of Delaware
  • Phi Beta Kappa inductee, 2015
  • Penn State Schreyer Honors College Academic Excellence Scholarship, 2011 – 2015
Research Funding
  1. NIH NICHD F30 - 1F30HD103318-01A1
    • Spring 2021 - Spring 2024
    • Title: Investigation of the neuromuscular response and training effects of wearable adaptive resistance in children with cerebral palsy
    • Role: PI
    • Amount: $50,555/year
  2. Valley Research Partnership – P1b                                                             
    • July 2020 – July 2022
    • Role: Student PI
    • Title: A controlled-trial of wearable adaptive resistance and investigation of its effects on muscle architecture of the ankle plantar flexors in children with cerebral palsy
    • Amount: $5,000
Selected Publications: 
  1. Conner BC, Fang Y, Lerner ZF. Under pressure: design and validation of a pressure-sensitive insole for ankle plantar flexion biofeedback during neuromuscular gait training. Journal of NeuroEngineering and Rehabilitation 2022; 19: 135.
  2. Conner BC, Spomer AM, Bishe SSPA, Steele KM, Lerner ZF. Soleus H-reflex modulation in cerebral palsy and its relationship with neural control complexity: a pilot study. Experimental Brain Research 2022; 240: 2073-2084.
  3. Conner BC, Remec NM, Lerner ZF. Is robotic gait training effective for individuals with cerebral palsy? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Clinical Rehabilitation 2022; 36: 873-882.
  4. Conner BC, Xu T, Kamdar NS, Haapala H, Whitney DG. Physical and occupational therpay utilization and associated factors among adults with cerebral palsy: longitudinal modelling to capture distinct utilization groups. Disability and Health Journal 2022; 15: 101279.
  5. Conner BC, Remec NM, Michaels CM, Wallace CW, Andrisevic E, Lerner ZF. Relationship between ankle function and walking ability for children and young adults with cerebral palsy: A systematic review of deficits and targeted interventions. Gait & Posture 2022; 91: 165-178.
  6. Conner BC, Orekhov G, Lerner ZF. Ankle exoskeleton assistance increases six-minute walk test performance in cerebral palsy. IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology 2021; 2: 320-323.
  7. Conner BC, Schwartz MH, Lerner ZF. Pilot evaluation of changes in motor control after wearable robotic resistance training in children with cerebral palsy. Journal of Biomechanics 2021; 126: 110601.
  8. Conner BC, Remec NM, Orum EK, Frank EM, Lerner ZF. Wearable adaptive resistance training improves ankle strength, walking efficiency and mobility in cerebral palsy: A pilot clinical trial. IEEE Open Journal of Engineering in Medicine and Biology 2020; 1: 282-289.
  9. Conner BC, Luque J, Lerner ZF. Adapative Ankle Resistance from a Wearable Robotic Device to Improve Muscle Recruitment in Cerebral Palsy. Annals Biomedical Engineering 2020; 48: 1309-1321.
  10. Conner BC, Petersen DA, Pigman J, Tracy JB, Johnson CL, Manal K, Miller F, Modlesky CM, Crenshaw JR. The cross-sectional relationships between age, standing static balance, and standing dynamic balance reactions in typically developing children. Gait & Posture 2019; 73: 20-25.