Dr. Melissa Thompson

Dr. Melissa Thompson
Associate Professor of Health & Human Performance


  • Biomechanics
  • Neuromechanics
  • Human gait (walking and running)


  • Ph.D., University of Idaho, 2014
  • M.S., University of Colorado, Boulder, 2007
  • B.A., University of Colorado, Boulder, 2005


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About Dr. Melissa Thompson

Dr. Thompson joined the College in 2013. She researches human gait. Her research currently focuses on understanding how different types of sensory feedback influence our walking and running patterns, how other clinical and orthopedic conditions (such as diabetes mellitus and joint fusions) alter gait, and how terrain and footwear influence running mechanics and the implications for injury. She also studies how skin sensory feedback influences gait patterns, gait changes, and activity limitations following big toe joint fusion. She compares how experienced and inexperienced trail runners alter their running gait on different terrains.

Before joining the faculty at Fort Lewis College, Thompson conducted research at the Laboratoire de Physiologie de l'Exercice at the Universit√© Jean Monnet in Saint Etienne, France, the Comparative Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab at the University of Idaho, and the Human Performance Lab at the University of Idaho. She has received several grants and awards, including the International Society of Biomechanics International Travel Grant, the University of Idaho STEM Fellowship, the University of Idaho Research Fellowship, and the Fort Lewis College Faculty Development Grant.

Selected publications and presentations

Physiological and biomechanical mechanisms of distance specific human running performance,” Integrative and Comparative Biology, 57(2), 293-300, 2017

Superficial plantar cutaneous sensation does not trigger barefoot running adaptations,” co-authored with K. M. Hoffman, Gait & Posture, 57, 305-309, 2017

“Kinematic and Kinetic Comparison of Barefoot and Shod Running in Mid/Forefoot and Rearfoot Strike Runners,” co-authored with S. S. Lee, J. Seegmiller, and C. P. McGowan, Gait & Posture, 2015

“Emerging Insights On Gait Changes in Runners,” co-authored with Kristine M. Hoffman, Podiatry Today, 2015

“Implications of Reduced Stride Length in Running,” co-authored with Kristine M. Hoffman, Lower Extremity Review, 2015

“The Role of Cutaneous Sensory Feedback During Running,” co-presented with M. Chavarria, D. Dasugo, N. DeSouchet, and K. M. Hoffman, Rocky Mountain American Society of Biomechanics Meeting, Estes Park, CO, 2015

“The Effect of Stride Length on the Dynamics of Barefoot and Shod Running,” co-authored with A. Gutmann, J. Seegmiller, and C. P. McGowan, Journal of Biomechanics, 2014

“Development of a Realistic Inertial Load Cycle Ergometer,” co-authored with R. Kram, Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 2006 

In the media

So, what DOES cause a change in strike pattern with barefoot running?, The Gait Guys, July 2017

Plantar sensation fails to explain shift in foot strike during barefoot running, Lower Extremity Review, June 2017