Melanie Lott '4

Melanie Lott ’04

Assistant Professor
Position Type
- Present

I enjoy teaching courses across the spectrum of the physics curriculum including introductory physics, mechanics, electronics, modern physics, and the advanced experimental laboratory. In addition to working with students in the classroom setting, I enjoy involving students in my research lab.

I am a biomechanist who works on the whole body level, using principles of classical mechanics to better understand how the human body moves. I am particularly interested in dance biomechanics, which is a relatively new field. My research is interdisciplinary in nature, combining physics, anatomy, and the art of dance. In general I am interested in connections between science and the arts and enjoy finding ways for the two seemingly disconnected worlds to intermingle.

B.S., Denison University; M.S., University of Michigan; Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College


Research Overview
Experimental research on the physics of dance, an area that melds art and science. Current work explores the mechanics of how dancers regain balance while rotating in pirouettes.
Research Details

Currently my research group investigates how dancers regain balance while spinning in a multiple-turn pirouette. We collect motion capture data of dancers with a multi-camera system to track the positions and orientations of the dancers’ body segments and center of mass throughout the pirouette. We also create a model of the dancer to simulate the pirouette based on theoretical mechanics. Our model can also be used to compute the musculoskeletal forces involved in executing the movement. One of the main goals of our research is to determine if expert dancers utilize a particular adjustment strategy to successfully regain balance while rotating on one foot.

In the past I have also done projects on biomechanics of athletics and even non-human movement (horse jumping). I enjoy collaborating with people across many disciplines.




  • K. Laws and M. Lott, “Resource Letter PoD-1: The Physics of Dance,” American Journal of Physics 81, 7 (2013).
  • M. Lott and K. Laws, “The Physics of Toppling and Regaining Balance during a Pirouette,” Journal of Dance Medicine and Science 16, 167 (2012).
  • M. Cluss, K. Laws, N. Martin, T.S. Nowicki, and A. Mira, The Indirect Measurement of Biomechanical Forces in the Moving Human Body,” American Journal of Physics 74, 102 (2006).