Yadetsie N. (Niky) Zaragoza-Rivera, Ph.D.

Senior Consultant

Forensic Services

Atlanta

BACKGROUND:

Dr. Niky Zaragoza-Rivera holds a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s and Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering, with a focus on Injury Biomechanics. She has extensive knowledge in biomechanics ranging from vehicle occupant safety, fall analyses, and experimental testing.  Dr. Zaragoza-Rivera specializes in evaluating the biomechanical response of vulnerable populations, such as children and the elderly.

Dr. Zaragoza-Rivera performs biomechanical analyses on cases involving motor vehicle accidents, safety system usage (seatbelts, child restraint systems, helmets), falling objects, trips/slips/falls, playground and amusement parks, and pedestrian/bicycle-vehicle accidents. She has evaluated motor vehicle accidents involving low-speed collisions, high-speed collisions, vehicle rollovers, and non-road vehicles such as forklifts. Dr. Zaragoza-Rivera has extensive experience in child passenger safety, including the identification and correction of child restraint system misuse and how these misuses create a hazardous environment for the pediatric and adult occupants in vehicles. As a certified playground safety inspector, Dr. Zaragoza-Rivera is trained to identify hazards in public playgrounds, assess and categorize hazards according to injury potential, and properly remove the hazards to ensure the safety of all playground participants.

As a Biomechanical Engineer, Dr. Zaragoza-Rivera has extensive knowledge of human anatomy and tissue mechanics which has allowed her to amass a unique perspective and knowledge base in injury potential, prevention, and outcomes. As a trained martial artist, Dr. Zaragoza-Rivera also brings a unique biomechanical perspective to injury potential in different sports and physical altercations including evaluating the mechanism of injury resulting from fights, punching, and kicking techniques, and body positioning when an individual is detained.

Prior to joining Rimkus, Dr. Zaragoza-Rivera was a graduate research fellow in the Injury Biomechanics Research Center in the Wexner Medical School at the Ohio State University. During her graduate research, she led and assisted in multiple research projects related to vehicle occupant safety and worked closely with representatives of the National Highway Traffic Administration (NHTSA), vehicle and child restraint system manufacturers, and researchers of the Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies. Her hands-on crash safety experimental research experience provides a detailed perspective in occupant kinematics when exposed to different impulses such as low-, moderate-, and high-speed frontal, side, and rear collisions, evaluation of proper seatbelt fit, and evaluation of proper child restraint use.

EDUCATION & CERTIFICATIONS:

• Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D.: The Ohio State University (2020)

• Biomedical Engineering, MS: The Ohio State University (2017)

• Mechanical Engineering (magna cum laude, honors), BS: Universidad de Puerto Rico, Mayagüez (2015)

• Child Passenger Safety Technician

• Certified Playground Safety Inspector

• Accredited Traffic Accident Reconstructionist: Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR #4461)

• Bosch CDR Tool Technician

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