In this special issue, we commemorate the near-decade-long service of JBME coeditors Drs. Beth Winkelstein and Victor Barocas. Both Beth and Victor, each ASME and Biomedical Engineering Society fellows, have been leaders in the field of biomechanics for decades. Beth has been a pioneer in the field of injury biomechanics, in particular at its intersection with spine and neck pain. Victor has made significant contributions to soft tissue biomechanics across a variety of biological systems, particularly in terms of computational multiscale mechanical models of fiber networks. They have each received numerous awards and accolades from national and international organizations for the quality of their work, but perhaps their greatest impact has been through their mentorship and support of the next generation of scientists and engineers, both in their own research laboratories and through their many service roles. As two former trainees of Beth and Victor, we each have tremendous gratitude for the mentorship and guidance that they have provided us. Along with dozens of their current and former trainees, our growth and career successes are a product of the time and energy that they have invested in us over the years.
Beth and Victor have also had a transformative impact on JBME over the last decade. One of Beth and Victor's major accomplishments during their leadership of the journal was the expansion and diversification of the editorial board, which by the end of their tenure resulted in one of the most diverse, if not the most diverse, editorial boards in the ASME journal suite. Importantly, the board was diverse in many dimensions, with individuals from a wide range of both lived experiences and scientific interests. A diverse and engaged editorial board is now a major strength for the journal, and was a key part of Beth and Victor's success as editors. It is now part of their legacy as JBME continues to maintain an outstanding team of associate editors.
Recognizing the editorial board as one of Beth and Victor's lasting contributions to JBME, this special issue includes invited papers by nine past Associate Editors who served their entire terms during Beth and Victor's editorship. As one might expect, the work is highly varied in topic but of uniformly high quality, spanning many different research areas that are within the scope of JBME. We can group this collection broadly into four themes: (1) Soft-tissue mechanics at moderate speed, (2) high-speed mechanics and injury, (3) vascular flows and fluid–structure interactions, and (4) the nervous system.
On the topic of soft-tissue mechanics, Roberge et al. (Corr) performed an elegant and thorough study of the biomechanics of alginate microbeads, which are important as drug delivery and tissue engineering tools. Roberge shows that microbead mechanics can be quite different from bulk alginate mechanics, and they discuss the importance of this difference in microbead design. Vena et al. (Vena) combined classical bulge testing with confocal microscopy to measure the mechanical properties of bovine pericardium, including tissue anisotropy as demonstrated by the different principal curvatures of the bulge. Although the two papers deal with different length scales and different materials, they both demonstrate innovative experiments and their combination with theory that are hallmarks of JBME.
Moving onto biomechanics at higher speeds, two papers address important foundational and applied problems in injury biomechanics. Siefert et al. (Stemper) performed characterization studies of soft tissues in the thorax at a high strain rate to provide important properties critically needed for accurate finite element modeling of penetrating injuries. This work not only provides valuable datasets but highlights important rate-dependent effects when compared to prior work. Miller et al. (Stitzel) uses continuous data collection during real-life exposures to define acceleration and vibration profiles of NASCAR drivers. Both of these studies advance important foundational knowledge about human injury and help refine modeling approaches of these events.
Turning to vascular flows, three different papers address different challenging aspects of cardiovascular biofluid dynamics. Pham et al. (Marsden) demonstrate a novel tool—svMorph—to construct patient-specific model geometries for blood flow simulations, continuing the community's drive to increase the accessibility and efficiency of vascular flow simulations. Kim et al. (Figueroa) use fluid–structure interaction models to explore the hemodynamic consequences of an aortic dissection. The work demonstrates just how sophisticated computational biofluid-solid tools have become, accounting for the motion of the dissection flap during blood flow and exploring the outflow vessel obstruction that may result. Finally, Ponnaluri et al. (Manning) provide a thorough in vitro examination of the dynamics of transcatheter aortic valve replacements, demonstrating significant flaws with the standard testing techniques and highlighting the need for tight control on testing protocols for replacement heart valves.
Finally, the role of the nervous system in biomechanics is the focus of two papers—one modeling GABAergic neurons and their roles in adjusting vascular resistance and the other defining the median nerve's spatial relationship to the transverse carpal ligament. David et al. present a neurovascular coupling model incorporating both somato-sensory neurons and GABAergic interneurons and investigate the role of nitric oxide in such systems. Li et al. utilize ultrasound techniques to define the three-dimensional geometry of the median nerve and its relationship to the ligament within the carpal tunnel, providing helpful information for those modeling this joint and its relationship to pain, and also validating two-dimensional approaches. Both studies are highly relevant to biomechanical investigations and provide meaningful insights for important physiological systems.
In conclusion, we note that these papers are just a sample of the topics covered by JBME, both during Beth and Victor's editorship and continuing today under the editorship of Ross Ethier and Vicky Nguyen. Biomechanical engineering remains a vibrant and evolving field, but the essential features of JBME—scientific rigor, intellectual thoroughness, creativity, and a commitment to the improvement of public health—do not change. We thank Victor and Beth, the associate editors who contributed to this special issue, as well as those on the editorial board who were not able to contribute, for their dedication to the journal and its ideals.