Dr. Katharine Polasek

Professor of Engineering, Department Chair
Profile photo of Dr. Katharine Polasek

Katharine Polasek joined the Hope College faculty in 2010. She started the biomedical engineering path at Hope while developing new classes, including Rehabilitation Engineering, Biomedical Instrumentation and specialty courses on biomechanics and bioelectrics. She is also the faculty advisor for the campus chapter of the Society for Women Engineers.

Areas of expertise

Katharine specializes in neural engineering, with a focus on restoring function to people with neurological disorders. Her current research is looking at developing a therapy to treat phantom limb pain for people with amputated limbs.


  • Ph.D., biomedical engineering, Case Western Reserve University, 2007
  • B.S.E., mechanical engineering, University of Michigan, 2001


  • NSF-RUI, "Treating Phantom Limb Pain with Electrically Induced Somatosensation," 2018–2021
  • Michigan Space Grant Consortium Research Seed Grant, "Electroencephalography (EEG) to Compare Actual and Electrically Activated Touch," 2017–2018
  • Hope College Nyenhuis Cooperative Faculty/Student Research Award, "Electrical stimulation of sensation with future application to treat phantom limb pain," 2016–2017
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Research Grant (Hope College), "Mathematical models to predict nerve activation to develop a treatment for phantom limb pain," 2015–2016
  • Hope College Nyenhuis Faculty Development Award, "Sensory Stimulation for the Treatment of Phantom Limb Pain in Amputees," 2013–2014
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute Faculty Research Grant (Hope College), "Feasibility of a non-invasive treatment for phantom limb pain in upper extremity amputees," 2012–2013

Selected publications

  • A Model of Motor and Sensory Axon Activation in the Median Nerve Using Surface Electrical Stimulation,” with Jessica Gaines, Kathleen Finn, Julia Slopsema and Lane Heyboer, The Journal of Computational Neuroscience, doi: 10.1007/s10827-018-0689-5, 2018
  • “Natural Sensations Evoked in Distal Extremities using Surface Electrical Stimulation,” with Julia P. Slopsema, John M. Boss, Lane A. Heyboer, Carson M. Tobias, Brooke P. Draggoo, Kathleen E. Finn and Payton J. Hoff, The Open Biomedical Engineering Journal, 2017
  • “Evaluation of high-density, multi-contact nerve cuffs for activation of grasp muscles in monkeys,” with Natalie Brill, Stephanie Naufel, Christian Ethier, Lee Miller, Dustin Tyler, Jennifer Cheesborough and Sonya Agnew, Journal of Neural Engineering, 2016
  • “Surface Electrical Stimulation to Evoke Referred Sensation,” with J.C. Forst et al., Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development, 52(4), 2015
  • “Implanted neuroprosthesis for restoring arm and hand function in people with high level tetraplegia,” with W.D. Memberg et al., Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 95(6), 2014
  • “Stimulation stability and selectivity of chronically implanted multicontact nerve cuff electrodes in the human upper extremity,” with H.A. Hoyen et al., IEEE Transactions on Neuralal Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 17(5), 2009
  • “Human Nerve Stimulation Thresholds and Selectivity using a Multi-Contact Nerve Cuff Electrode,” with H.A. Hoyen et al., IEEE Transactions on Neuralal Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, 15(1), 2007

Outside the College

Katie and her husband, Greg Bassett, a professor in the Department of Philosophy, have three children: Isaac, Teddy and Sam. She enjoys running, hockey and playing trombone in the Holland American Legion Band.

Profile photo of Dr. Katharine Polasek
Dr. Katharine Polasek

Phone Number616.395.7079

VanderWerf-Room 223F 27 Graves Place Holland, MI 49423-3617
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