University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Department of Anthropology

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John David Polk PhD


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Research Interests

Biomechanics of Locomotion

Exercise and neurobiology

Brain evolution

Functional Morphology

Human Anatomy and Variation

Human and Primate Evolution


  • PhD 2001 Stony Brook University
  • MA 1997 Stony Brook University
  • BSc 1993 University of Toronto

Distinctions / Awards

  • Outstanding Student Choice for Anthropological Recognition (OSCAR) 2010 for support of undergraduate research
  • Mildred and Herbert Weisinger Dissertation Fellowship, Stony Brook University 2000
  • University of Illinois, list of teachers ranked as excellent by their students: 2007, 2008, 2010
  • University Teaching Fellowship, Stony Brook University 1998-2000



Journal Articles

  • Helwig, NE, John D. Polk, and S Hong. "Parallel factor analysis of gait waveform data: multimode extension of Principal Component Analysis." Human Movement Science (2012):
  • Grabowski, MW, John D. Polk, and CC Roseman. "Divergent patterns of integration and reduced constrain in the human hip and the origins of bipedalism." Evolution 65 (2011): 1336-1356.
  • Helwig, NE, S Hong, ET Hsiao-Wecksler, and John D. Polk. "Methods to temporally align gait cycle data." Journal of Biomechanics 44 (2011): 561-566.
  • Patel, BA, and John D. Polk. "Distal forelimb kinematics in patas monkeys (Erythrocebus patas) and olive baboons (Papio anubis) during walking and galloping." International Journal of Primatology 31 (2010): 191-208.
  • DiBerardino, LA, John D. Polk, KS Rosengren, JB Spencer-Smith, and ET Hsiao-Wecksler. "Quantifying complexity and variability in phase portraits." Clinical Biomechanics 25 (2010): 552-556.
  • Polk, John D., SA Williams, JV Peterson, CC Roseman, and LR Godfrey. "Subcondral bone apparent density and loco moor behavior in extant primates and sub fossil lemurs. ." International Journal of Primatology 31 (2010): 275-299.
  • Hsiao-Wecksler, ET, John D. Polk, KS Rosengren, JJ Sosnoff, and S Hong. "A review of new analytic techniques for quantifying symmetry in locomotion." Symmetry 2 (2010): 1135-1155.
  • Rosengren, KS, FJA Deconinck, LA DiBerardino, John D. Polk, J Spencer-Smith, M Lenoir, and D DeClercq. "Differences in gait complexity and variability between children with and without developmental coordination disorder." Gait and Posture 29 (2009): 225-229.
  • Polk, John D., SA Williams, and J Peterson. "Primate joint posture inferred from subchondral bone density." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 140 (2009): 359-367.
  • Polk, John D., J Spencer-Smith, L DiBerardino, D Ellis, M Downen, and KS Rosengren. "Quantifying Phase Portraits: Application to Gait Ontogeny." Infant Behavior and Development 31 (2008): 302-306.
  • Polk, John D., J Blumenfeld, and K Ahluwalia. "Knee posture predicted from subchondral apparent density in the distal femur: An experimental validation." The Anatomical Record: Advances in Integrative Anatomy and Evolutionary Biology 291 (2008): 293-302.
  • Shorter, KA, John D. Polk, KS Rosengren, and ET Hsiao-Wecksler. "A new approach to detecting asymmetries in gait." Clinical Biomechanics 23 (2008): 459-467.
  • Pontzer, H, DE Lieberman, E Momin, MJ Devlin, John D. Polk, B Hallgrimsson, and DML Cooper. "Trabecular bone in the bird knee responds with high sensitivity to changes in load orientation." Journal of Experimental Biology 209 (2006): 57-65.
  • Hanna, JB, John D. Polk, and D Schmitt. "Forelimb and hindlimb forces in walking and galloping primates." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 130 (2006): 529-535.
  • Polk, John D., SP Psutka, and B Demes. "Sampling frequencies an measurement error in primate gait studies." Journal of Human Evolution 49 (2005): 665-679.
  • Lieberman, DE, John D. Polk, and B Demes. "Predicting long bone loading from cross-sectional geometry." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 123 (2004): 156-171.
  • Polk, John D. "The influence of body size and limb proportions on joint posture in terrestrial monkeys and fossil hominins." Journal of Human Evolution 47 (2004): 237-252.
  • Lieberman, DE, OM Pearson, John D. Polk, B Demes, and AW Crompton. "Optimization of bone growth and remodeling in response to loading in tapered mammalian limbs." Journal of Experimental Biology 206 (2003): 3125-3138.
  • Polk, John D. "Adaptive and phylogenetic influences on musculoskeletal design in cercopithecine primates." Journal of Experimental Biology 205 (2002): 3399-3412.
  • Polk, John D., B Demes, WL Jungers, RE Heinrich, AR Biknevicius, and JA Runestad. "A comparison of primate, carnivoran and rodent limb bone cross-sectional properties: Are primates really unique?." Journal of Human Evolution 39 (2000): 297-325.