Welcome to the Colorado Concussion Research Laboratory

Lab Director, David Howell, PhD, ATC

Principal Investigator

Lab Director

David Howell, PHD, ATC

David Howell, PhD, ATC

The overarching goal of Dr. Howell’s research is to evaluate objective and quantitative measures that provide clinically relevant data for concussion management and to discover the physiologic underpinnings of post-concussion deficits. A concussion is a multifaceted and heterogeneous injury, so monitoring recovery and determining biological predictors of long-term outcomes remains challenging. Currently, Dr. Howell and his team are focused on establishing a framework to better understand and assess effective methods to allow athletes with a concussion to return to full sports participation in a safe manner.  Dr. Howell is also the current president of the Pediatric Research in Sports Medicine (PRiSM) Society.  Outside of the office, Dr. Howell enjoys activities that are typical for a Colorado resident: fly-fishing, skiing, hiking, and exploring places that don’t get cell service.



Associate Professor, Department of Orthopedics, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Director of Clinical Research, Colorado Program for Musculoskeletal Research, Department of Orthopedics, University of Colorado School of Medicine

Director of Research, Sports Medicine Center, Children’s Hospital Colorado 



Primary research interests:
Pediatric concussion; human movement analysis; youth athlete health
Links to complete bibliography of published work:

Education :

BA, Whitworth University, Spokane, WA
MS, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
PhD, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
Post-Doc, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA

Associate Lab Director

Julie C. Wilson, MD

Julie C. Wilson, MD.

Through her clinical practice and corresponding research, Dr. Wilson’s goal is to advance the clinical care of children and adolescents with concussions through research investigating methods to diagnosis, manage and reduce the risk of concussions and their subsequent effects. As the Co-Director of the Concussion Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Dr. Wilson provides a wealth of experience as someone who treats children with a concussion on a daily basis, conveying unique insights from both a clinician and patient/parent perspective to incorporate into our ongoing research studies. Outside of work, Dr. Wilson enjoys cycling, snowboarding, spending time with her dogs, and trying to find the best tea and ice cream shops in Colorado.


Lab Members

Post-Doctoral Researcher

Dr. Catherine Donahue, PhD

Dr. Catherine (Cat) Donahue

Dr. Catherine (Cat) Donahue recently graduated with her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia (UVA) and is now a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Orthopedics with a research focus on sports concussions. Prior to her PhD at the University of Virginia, she completed her Masters in 2016 also at UVA, and her Bachelors at Point Loma Nazarene University in 2012.  Dr. Donahue brings over 10 years of research and clinical experience as a certified athletic trainer, working in a variety of settings including athletics, military, and performing arts. Her research focuses on the sequelae of sports concussions, specifically the role of sleep and sleep-related factors. Outside of the lab, she enjoys paddleboarding, snowboarding, and spending time with her golden retriever, Goose.

Doctoral Students

Kate Smulligan, PT, DPT

Kate Smulligan, PT, DPT

Kate Smulligan is a Ph.D. candidate in the CU Rehabilitation Science program with a research interest in sports concussions. She is particularly interested in the interplay between the cervical spine and the vestibular and oculomotor systems, and how that impacts persistent symptoms following concussion. Kate began her career as a physical therapist specializing in traumatic brain injury rehabilitation, and she brings her clinical expertise in this area to further the understanding of optimal assessment, treatment, and prevention of concussions.

Matthew Wingerson

Mathew Wingerson, MS

Mathew Wingerson, MS, is a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado Anschutz studying rehabilitation sciences. The focus of his research is understanding how post-concussion exercise affects physiological markers of recovery in adolescents and young adults. Mathew is passionate about innovations of research and dedicated to leveraging advanced statistical and data science methods to enhance the clinical care of concussions. Outside of research, Mathew is an avid sports fan (Rock Chalk!), loves reading mystery novels, and will never turn down an offer to go thrift/antique shopping!

Matthew Wingerson

Joshua (Josh) Kniss, PT, DPT, OCS

Joshua (Josh) Kniss, PT, DPT, OCS is a Ph.D. student in the University of Colorado Rehabilitation Science Program at the Anschutz Medical Campus. Josh’s research interests include investigating movement patterns and gait dynamics in individuals who recently sustained a concussion to better predict prognosis, improve treatment strategies, and prevent concussion. Josh is an active-duty officer in the U.S. Army, and he brings seven years of experience as a U.S. Army Physical Therapist to the lab. In his free time, Josh enjoys spending time with his wife, two young sons, and two dogs. He is also an avid basketball player and snow skier.

Research Professionals


Madison (Madi) Brna, BSMadison (Madi) Brna, BS

Madison (Madi) Brna, BS, is a research professional in the Sports Medicine Center at the Children’s Hospital Colorado working and assisting in clinical research coordination for Primary Care Sports Medicine Providers and the Howell Concussion Lab. Madi graduated from the University of Virginia (2022) where she studied Kinesiology. During her time as an undergrad, Madi worked with UVA Sports Medicine and was heavily involved in sports concussion research. She is excited to continue to explore the world of concussion and its integration with other areas of sports medicine research. She hopes to pursue higher education in medicine in the near future. Outside of research, Madi enjoys watching sports, running, reading, jigsaw puzzles, and spending time with her dog Tabasco.

Makenna Hemmerle, MSMakenna Hemmerle, MS

Makenna Hemmerle, MS, is a research professional in the Colorado Concussion Research Lab. She completed her BA and MS in Integrative Physiology at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her master’s research project heavily involved topics in biomechanics, which she hopes to integrate while assisting in concussion research. In her free time, she enjoys playing tennis, rooting for Colorado sports teams, and listening to music.


Lindsey Kemp, BSLindsey Kemp, BS

Lindsey  Kemp, BS, is a research professional in the Department of Orthopedics at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus supporting and assisting in study coordination for Dr. David Howell and Dr. Julie Wilson's ongoing research studies. Lindsey graduated from East Carolina University (2018) with a B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in Multidisciplinary studies focused on Neuroscience. Prior to her work in the concussion lab, she worked on clinical immune monitoring of immuno-oncology therapies. She is excited to learn more about concussions and hopes to use prior knowledge to assist in the biological analyses of patient samples and data.

Masters Students

Samuel Messenger, BS

Samuel Messenger, BS

Samuel Messenger, BS, is a 2nd year MPH Student with a concentration in Epidemiology at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Since graduating with a BS in Athletic Training in 2018 from the University of Vermont, he has practiced as an Athletic Trainer in Colorado, Louisiana, and Vermont, working with collegiate and secondary school athletes and in post-concussive treatment programs. He is most interested in how exercise affects concussion rehabilitation and how socioeconomic factors may influence recovery from brain injuries. Outside of the lab, he enjoys camping, playing and listening to music, and rooting for the New York Jets.


Lab Alumni

Morgan Potter, Research Assistant (2017-2019). Current: Ph.D. Student, University of Delaware

Tatiana Patismas, Medical Resident (2019-2020). Current: Sports Medicine Fellow, Children’s Hospital Colorado.

Katie Van Deventer, Medical Student (2019-2020). Current: Medical Resident, UC-Irvine.

Julia Southard, Undergraduate Intern, Regis University (2019).

Corrine Seehusen, Research Assistant (2019-2021). Current: Medical Student, University of New England.

Linda Neely, Master’s Student (2021-2022). Current: Physical Therapy Student, University of Colorado.

Casey Little, Research Assistant (2021-2022). Current: Medical Student, University of Virginia

Jake Rademacher, Undergraduate Intern (2022-2023).

Samantha Magliato, Research Assistant and Master’s Student (2020-2023).

Ryan LaGreca, Master’s Student (2022-2023). Current: Physician Assistant Student, University of Colorado.



CMS Login