Noah Bonnheim Ph.D.


Postdoctoral Scholar; Department of Orthopaedic Surgery; University of California, San Francisco; 2020–present.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Mechanical Engineering (Biomechanics); University of California, Berkeley; 2020.


Master of Science (M.S.); Department of Mechanical Engineering; University of California, Berkeley; 2016.


Bachelor of Engineering (B.E.); Dartmouth College; Hanover, NH; 2012


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.); Colby College; Waterville, ME; 2011



Dr. Noah Bonnheim joined the Fields Lab in 2020 as a Postdoctoral Scholar. His research involves using novel MRI techniques to study the mechanisms of degenerative spinal pathologies and chronic low back pain; in particular, how the permeability of the cartilage endplate and the fat fraction of the vertebral bone marrow relate to disc degeneration and clinical pain. This research involves using advanced computational tools to non-invasively assay tissue constituents in vivo in order to elucidate the relationships between tissue morphology and biochemistry with whole-organ behavior and clinical low back pain.


Noah earned a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (Biomechanics) from the University of California, Berkeley in 2020. His dissertation research explored the bone biomechanics of human lumbar vertebrae following total disc replacement surgery. This work involved using high-resolution micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) data from human cadavers coupled with parallel finite element analysis implemented on a peta-scale supercomputing cluster. The overall goal of this research was to study how implants may be designed to better replicate the healthy physiologic properties of the human lumbar motion segment.


Noah is the recipient of the Hamilton Family Memorial Fellowship (2017) at the University of California, Berkeley. He was awarded the Outstanding Graduate Student Instructor Award by the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Berkeley (2017) in recognition of achievements as an instructor of “Orthopaedic Biomechanics”, an upper-level engineering course. Noah has also taught math at San Quentin State Prison for students in the Associates of Arts degree program administered by the Prison University Project.


Prior to his work at UCSF and Berkeley, Noah was an engineer in the research and development department at ConforMIS, an orthopaedic implant manufacturer, developing patient-specific total joint replacements. He earned an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 2016, a B.E. from the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in 2012, and a B.A. from Colby College in 2011.


Research Interests

Spine biomechanics and physiology

Advanced medical imaging

Finite element analysis

Structure-function relationships in musculoskeletal tissues

Total disc arthroplasty



[email protected]