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Ontario Tech acknowledges the lands and people of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

We are thankful to be welcome on these lands in friendship. The lands we are situated on are covered by the Williams Treaties and are the traditional territory of the Mississaugas, a branch of the greater Anishinaabeg Nation, including Algonquin, Ojibway, Odawa and Pottawatomi. These lands remain home to many Indigenous nations and peoples.

We acknowledge this land out of respect for the Indigenous nations who have cared for Turtle Island, also called North America, from before the arrival of settler peoples until this day. Most importantly, we acknowledge that the history of these lands has been tainted by poor treatment and a lack of friendship with the First Nations who call them home.

This history is something we are all affected by because we are all treaty people in Canada. We all have a shared history to reflect on, and each of us is affected by this history in different ways. Our past defines our present, but if we move forward as friends and allies, then it does not have to define our future.

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Nicholas La Delfa
PhD, MSc, B. Sc. kin (hon)

Associate Professor

Director, Kinesiology

Faculty of Health Sciences

My research objective is to reduce the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders, through enhancement of our knowledge on human capability, function and performance.

Contact information

Science Building - Room B347
North Oshawa
2000 Simcoe Street North
Oshawa, ON L1G 0C5

905.721.8668 ext. 2139

Research topics

  • occupational biomechanics
  • neuromechanics
  • proactive ergonomics
  • neuromuscular fatigue and recovery
  • upper extremity strength prediction
  • digital human modelling and work simulation
  • musculoskeletal modelling

Research and Expertise

  • Background


    Dr. Nicholas La Delfa completed his undergrad and graduate studies at McMaster University, under the supervision of Dr. Jim Potvin with a focus in occupational biomechanics and proactive ergonomics. He then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Waterloo, where he trained with Dr. Clark Dickerson in the areas of clinical and occupational shoulder biomechanics. He started his appointment at Ontario Tech University in 2017.

    Research Interests:

    Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs) cause tremendous pain and suffering to workers, but also place financial strain on our industry and healthcare systems. The study of ergonomics aims to mitigate WMSDs through the reduction of common risk factors linked to musculoskeletal injury, including poor posture, high repetition and excessive forces. Ergonomics has traditionally been a reactive discipline, where changes to a workplace are often implemented after an injury has occurred. In a proactive ergonomics process, digital human models (DHMs), or virtual human avatars, can be inserted into computer-aided design & manufacturing (CAD/CAM) simulations of the workplace, allowing engineers & ergonomists to analyze the feasibility and safety of work task elements and product designs before they ever exist in reality.

    Proactive work simulation represents a cost-effective approach to minimize injury-related expenses late in the production cycle, but the ergonomics tools within DHMs are currently restricted by a lack of fundamental knowledge on occupationally relevant human capability and function. As such, the long-term goal of my research program is to reduce costly work-related musculoskeletal injuries, primarily through the enhancement of ergonomics strength and fatigue assessment tools within DHM work simulation. To achieve this goal, I organize my research into four predominant themes/objectives:

    1. Human Strength Capability
    2. Neuromuscular & mental fatigue
    3. Digital Human Modeling in proactive task analysis
    4. Applied Ergonomics Research (e.g. dental hygiene, office ergonomics, exoskeletons, etc.)
  • Publications

    For a comprehensive list of publications, please visit Research Gate or Google Scholar.


    • Hall, A.D., La Delfa, N.J., Loma, C.M., Potvin, J.R. What is the validity of linear arm strength estimates from the 3DSSPP software? Applied Ergonomics, 81(103415). 2021
    • Bulbrook, B., La Delfa, N.J., MacDonald, A., Liang, C., Callaghan, J.P., Dickerson, C.R. Higher body mass index and body fat percentage correlate to lower joint and functional strength in working age adults. Applied Ergonomics. In press.
    • Cregg, A., Foley, R., Livingston, L., La Delfa, NJ. A biomechanical evaluation of different footrest heights during standing computer work. Ergonomics, 64(3): 342-353. 2021.
    • Adel-Malek D, Wakeely F, Foley R, Graham JD, La Delfa N.J. Calibrating ratings of perceived fatigue relative to objective measures of localized muscle fatigue using a feedback-based familiarization protocol. Theoretical Issues in Ergonomics Science, 2020.
    • La Delfa, N.J., Kunasegaram, A., Whittaker, R.L., Dickerson, C.R. Upper extremity muscular exposures using a manual pill crushing device. Applied Ergonomics, 90: 103275. 2021.
    • DeBoon, B. Foley R., Nokleby, S., La Delfa, N.J., Rossa, C. Nine Degree-of-Freedom Kinematic Modelling of the Upper Limb Complex for Constrained Workplace Evaluation. Journal of Biomechanical Engineering, 143(2): 021009. 2021.
    • Abdel-Malek D, Foley R, Wakeely F, Graham JD, La Delfa N.J. Exploring localized muscle fatigue responses at current upper extremity ergonomics threshold limit values. Human Factors: August 2020.
    • La Delfa, N.J., Evans, Z.C., Potvin, J.R. The influence of hand location and handle orientation on female manual arm strength Applied Ergonomics: 81: 102896. 2019.
    • M.E., La Delfa, N.J., Maciukiewicz, J.M., Ho, A., Callaghan, J.P., Dickerson, C.R. The benefits of advanced exposure metrics to estimate occupational shoulder demands. Accepted in International Journal of Human Factors Modeling & Simulation: 7(1): 13-33. 2019.
    • Whittaker, R.W., La Delfa, N.J., Dickerson, C.R. Algorithmically detectable directional changes in upper extremity motion indicate substantial myoelectric shoulder muscle fatigue during a repetitive manual task. Ergonomics, 62(3): 431-443. 2019.
    • Borgs, S., La Delfa, N.J., Dickerson, C.R. An evaluation of off-axis manual forces and upper extremity joint moments during unilateral pushing and pulling exertions. Ergonomics, 62(1): 52-64. 2019.
    • Chow, A., La Delfa, N.J., Dickerson, C.R. Muscular exposures during two-handed maximal pushing & pulling tasks. IISE Transactions on Occupational Ergonomics and Human Factors, 5(3-4): 136-147. 2017.
    • La Delfa, N.J., Potvin, J.R. A musculoskeletal model to estimate the relative changes in wrist strength due to interacting wrist and forearm postures. Computer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering, 20(13): 1403-1411. 2017.
    • La Delfa, N.J., Potvin, J.R. The ‘Arm Force Field’ method to predict manual arm strength based on only hand location and force direction. Applied Ergonomics, 59 (Pt A): 410-421. 2017.
    • La Delfa, N.J., Grondin, D.E., Dresser, J., Potvin, J.R, Howarth, S.J. The biomechanical demands of manual scaling on the shoulders & neck of dental hygienists. Ergonomics, 60(1): 127-137. 2017.
  • Research Collaborators
    • Dr. Carlos Rossa (Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Ontario Tech University)
    • Dr. Bernadette Murphy (Faculty of Health Sciences, Ontario Tech University)
    • Dr. Clark Dickerson (Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Waterloo)
    • Dr. Jim Potvin (Faculty of Science, McMaster University)
    • Dr. Joel Cort (University of Windsor)
    • Dr. Michael Holmes (Brock University)
    • United States Council for Automotive Research (Ford, GM, Chrysler)
  • Courses Taught


    HLSC 4471U – Musculoskeletal Biomechanics
    HLSC 4475U – Occupational Ergonomics
    HLSC 4476U – Clinical Biomechanics
    HLSC 4478U – Advanced Ergonomics & Human Factors


    HLSC 5322G – Theory & Application of Biomedical Signals

  • Graduate Student Research

    Post-Doctoral Fellows:

    • Jeff Graham

    PhD Students:

    • Ryan Foley

    Masters Students:

    • Fahima Wakeely
    • Rahul Pabla
    • Adam Murphy
    • Michael Watterworth
    • Sarah Fitzgerald
    • Megan McIntosh (co-supervised with Dr. Bernadette Murphy)
    • Mark Fitzgerald (co-supervised with Dr. Michael Williams-Bell)
  • Grants
    • Canada Foundation for Innovation John R. Evans Leaders Fund (CFI-JELF) ($400,153). Project Title: Climactic Human Factors and Performance Laboratory. Role: Co-applicant. (Principal applicant: Heather Sprenger).
    • CRE-MSD Seed Grant ($10,000). Project Title: Refining acceptable manual force prediction in digital human models: The effect of handedness on upper extremity strength. Role: Principle Investigator (co-investigators: Fahima Wakeely, Ryan Foley). 2021.
    • NSERC Discovery Grant ($240,000). Project Title: Advancing digital human modeling and work simulation methods for proactive ergonomics assessments. Role: Principle Investigator. 2020.
    • NSERC Accelerator Supplement ($120,000). Project Title: Advancing digital human modeling and work simulation methods for proactive ergonomics assessments. Role: Principle Investigator. 2020.
    • NSERC Discovery Launch Supplement ($12,500). Project Title: Advancing digital human modeling and work simulation methods for proactive ergonomics assessments. Role: Principle Investigator. 2020.
    • CRE-MSD Seed Grant ($10,000). Project Title: Neuromechanical response to repetitive workloads relative to current upper extremity ergonomics thresholds. Role: Principle Investigator (co-investigator: Daniel Abdel-Malek). 2018
    • CRE-MSD Seed Grant ($9,500). Project Title: Assessing upper extremity muscular demands while operating a pill crushing device: Towards best practices. Role: Principle Investigator (co-investigators: Archana Kunasegaram & Dr. Clark Dickerson). 2016
    • CRE-MSD Seed Grant ($7,600). Project Title: Improving the prediction of wrist and elbow strength based on distal upper extremity posture. Role: Principle Investigator (co-investigators: Dr. Jim Potvin). 2014.
  • Education
    • Post-Doctoral Fellowship: Shoulder Biomechanics (University of Waterloo)
    • PhD: Occupational Biomechanics (McMaster University)
    • MSc: Biomechanics (McMaster University)
    • B.Sc.Kin: Kinesiology (Honours) (McMaster University)