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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.

Learn more about Indigenous Education and Cultural Services

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

Assistant Professor

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.

    The overall objective of Dr. La Delfa’s research program is to reduce the prevalence of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), through enhancement of our knowledge on human capability, function and performance. Dr. La Delfa's research interests can be represented by a paradigm that includes three interrelated themes:

    • Generating fundamental knowledge pertaining to human capability and the biological processes/strategies employed by the neuromuscular system in response to work-related challenges.
    • Leveraging our fundamental knowledge on human capacity into enhanced prediction of WMSD risk.
    • Establishing an association between WMSDs and actionable biomechanics limits, though small- and large-scale epidemiological evaluations with industrial partners.

    Dr. La Delfa endeavours to translate his research into advanced methods that proactively assess injury risk, with particular emphasis being placed on integrating his work within digital human modeling and proactive work simulation processes. By doing so, work tasks can be assessed virtually, early in the design phase, well before they ever exist in reality—saving both workers and employers from the financial, physical and emotional burdens of work-related musculoskeletal injuries.

  • Publications

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


    Whittaker, R.W., La Delfa, N.J., Dickerson, C.R. (In press). Algorithmically detectable directional changes in upper extremity motion indicate substantial myoelectric shoulder muscle fatigue during a repetitive manual task. Ergonomics.

     Vidt. M.E., La Delfa, N.J., Maciukiewicz, J.M., Ho, A., Callaghan, J.P., Dickerson, C.R. (In press). The benefits of advanced exposure metrics to estimate occupational shoulder demands. Accepted in International Journal of Human Factors Modeling & Simulation.

     La Delfa, N.J., Potvin, J.R. (2017). 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.

    La Delfa, N.J., Potvin, J.R. (2017). 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.

    La Delfa, N.J., Grondin, D.E., Dresser, J., Potvin, J.R, Howarth, S.J. (2016). The biomechanical demands of manual scaling on the shoulders & neck of dental hygienists. Ergonomics, 60(1): 127-137.

    La Delfa, N.J. & Potvin, J.R. (2016) Multi-directional manual arm strength and its relationship with resultant shoulder moment and arm posture. Ergonomics, 59(12): 1625-1636.

    La Delfa, N.J. & Potvin, J.R. (2016). Predicting manual arm strength: A comparison of artificial neural network and regression models for predicting manual arm strength in ergonomics. Journal of Biomechanics, 49: 602-605.

    Hodder, J.N., La Delfa, N.J., Potvin, J.R. (2016). Testing the Assumption in Ergonomics Software that Overall Shoulder Strength Can Be Accurately Calculated by Treating Orthopedic Axes as Independent. Journal of Electromyography & Kinesiology, 29: 50-54.

  • Research Collaborators
    • Dr. Carlos Rossa (Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science, Ontario Tech University)
    • Dr. Jeff Graham (Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University)
    • Dr. Jim Burkitt (Faculty of Health Sciences, 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)
    • 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
    • Master of Health Sciences (MHSc) supervisor for Daniel Abdel-Malek (2017 to 2019).
    • MHSc co-supervisor for Mathew Russel (2017 to 2019) - with Dr. Bernadette Murphy.
    • HLSC 4471U – Musculoskeletal Biomechanics
    • HLSC 4475U – Occupational Ergonomics
    • HLSC 4476U – Clinical Biomechanics
    • HLSC 4478U – Advanced Ergonomics & Human Factors
  • Grants
    • Centres of Research Expertise: Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) Seed Grant (2018-2019). Neuromechanical response to repetitive workloads relative to current upper extremity ergonomics thresholds. Role: Principle Investigator (co-investigators: Daniel Abdel-Malek).
    • Centres of Research Expertise: Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) Seed Grant (2017-2018). Assessing upper extremity muscular demands while operating a pill crushing device: Towards best practices. Value: $9,543; Role: Principle Investigator (co-investigators: Archana Kunasegaram & Dr. Clark Dickerson).
    • Centres of Research Expertise: Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) Seed Grant (2014-2015). Improving the prediction of wrist and elbow strength based on distal upper extremity posture. Value: $7,673; Role: Principle Investigator (co-investigators: Dr. Jim Potvin).
  • Education
    • Post-Doctoral Fellowship: University of Waterloo (Focus: Shoulder Biomechanics)
    • PhD Occupational Biomechanics MCMASTER UNIVERSITY (Focus: Occupational Biomechanics)
    • MSc Biomechanics MCMASTER UNIVERSITY (Focus: Ergonomics)
    • BSc Kinesiology (Honours) MCMASTER UNIVERSITY