The Billiar lab works to understand how mechanical forces affect the cells living in the body’s soft tissues. Soft tissues of the body experience forces during exercise (muscles contract and pull on tendons and ligaments) and at rest (blood vessels stretch with each heartbeat, digestive organs stretch and contract during eating). A better understanding of how a cells “feel” forces, interpret these stimuli, and alter their behavior will aid in creating treatments, and even curing, of a number of diseases from heart valve disease to cancer.

Our lab includes and appreciates people of all backgrounds, races, ethnicities, and gender identities and includes postdocs, graduate students, undergraduates, and high school students.

SB3C news

I appreciate being selected to speak about incorporating standards in my biomechanics lab in the Advances in Biomedical Engineering Education session (you can still view on Whova)


Prof. Billiar provided a “Presentation on Poster Making” for the BMES Smart Stage.

It is accessible publicly through the link: https://www.bmes.org/SSSUDrec

Alongside you can find a presentation on “abstract writing” by Dr. Reinhart King and on “presenting” by Dawn Elliot.

WPI 2021 Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize

Biomedical Engineering Department Head and Professor Kristen Billiar was awarded the 2021 Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize. The Chairman’s Exemplary Faculty Prize recognizes WPI faculty members who excel in all relevant areas of faculty performance, including teaching, research and scholarship, and advising. Recipients of the Chairman’s Prize are true exemplars of the Institute’s highest aspirations and most important qualities. Professor Kristen Billiar exemplifies these values at the highest level and distinguishes himself by his continuous and unwavering commitment to the institution, its students and broader WPI community. Notable accomplishments of Professor Billiar include leading a world-class research program in tissue mechanics and mechanobiology, being an exemplar of WPI’s innovative pedagogy, his students have won awards, published and presented their work, and received patents for work they have completed under his guidance, and leading the training of diversity advocates for faculty searches, establishing WPI’s Diversity Allies team, and serving as Inclusion Partner for the Engineering School. Professor Billiar’s demonstration of leadership and commitment to the university sets a powerful example for the rest of our community to follow. Because of him, WPI is better today than yesterday and will be better tomorrow than it is today.

Our lab’s paper on the stress fields: “Heterogeneity profoundly alters emergent stress fields in constrained multicellular systems”

Our paper, Heterogeneity profoundly alters emergent stress fields in constrained multicellular systems

Heterogeneity Profoundly Alters Emergent Stress Fields in Constrained Multicellular Systems Author links open overlay panel

Zachary E.Goldblatt, Habibeh Ashouri Choshali, Heather A.Cirka, Vivian Liang, Qi Wen, Dannel McCollum, Nima Rahbar, Kristen L. Billiar


Exploring Life and Death of Cells: Billiar Lab Research Could Lead to Better Understanding of Cancer, Heart Disease

National and international media outlets reported on our research who hopes to close an important gap in the understanding of physical factors that help regulate the life and death of cells in our bodies, and the important roles they play in the development of a wide range of disorders.  Read more

Marketplace-By the Numbers (public radio), Le Lezard (France),

Multicellular aggregate model

BioPortfolio, Arizona Republic, Renewable Energy World North America, Houston Chronicle, BioMedicine, Seattlepi, Times-Union (Albany), The Advocate (Stamford, CT) and San Antonio Express were among the more than 100 media outlets reporting the work, which is funded by a National Science Foundation grant and includes co-principle investigators Nima Rahbar, associate professor of civil & environmental engineering, and Qi Wen, associate professor of physics.