Founding Researchers:

Prof. Michael "Mick" Peterson, Ph.D.

Michael “Mick” Peterson, Ph.D. is Executive Director of the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory and the Libra Foundation Professor for the College of Engineering at the University of Maine.  Dr. Peterson’s research links traditional understanding of engineering mechanics and materials to the biomechanics of animals.  His research emphasis is on the manner in which dynamic response can be used to characterize materials.  Mick Peterson is an affiliate faculty member in: School of Marine Sciences, Civil Engineering and the Animal and Veterinary Sciences Department at the University of Maine. He has been collaborating with the faculty in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Colorado State University for more than a decade.  Over this time Dr. Peterson has developed a passion for understanding racing surfaces.  This work was started with funding provided by AQHA racing and has led to studies that now include thoroughbred, quarter horse and standard bred horse tracks as well as dog racing.  This work also has the potential to be at the center of questions regarding design, safety and maintenance of natural and synthetic racing surfaces.  Dr. Peterson has published over 50 journal articles, a book chapter, more than 150 conference proceedings and conferences papers and has received three patents.

Prof. C. Wayne McIlwraith, BVSc (DVM), PhD, FRCVS, DSc, Dr. med vet (hc), Diplomate ACVS

C. Wayne McIlwraith is a founding researcher of the racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory and a board member. Dr. McIlwraith’s research has been devoted to equine joint disease.  He is a pioneer in the use of arthroscopy in the investigation of equine joint injuries and has investigated the use of medications and biological therapies in treating bone disease in healing, the use of biomarkers to diagnose cartilage and bone damage, as well as developing the use of gene therapy and novel methods of articular cartilage repair.  Dr. McIlwraith is internationally renowned for the significance of his contributions to the field of equine orthopedics. Included among the many awards he has received are the Tierklinik Hochmoor Prize, the Winners Circle Award for Outstanding Achievements in American Quarter Horse Racing, and the John Hickman Award for Equine Orthopaedics.  A diplomate in the American and European colleges of Veterinary Surgeons, Dr. McIlwraith is a member of the International Society of Arthroscopy and Knee Surgery, Phi Zeta Veterinary Honor Society, and Veterinary Orthopedic Society.  He has authored or co-authored 10 textbooks  and numerous scientific publications.  He is on the editorial review boards of the Journal of Veterinary Surgery and the Equine Veterinary Journal. 

Staff Biographies:

Michaelle Lachance
Michaelle Lachance is the Laboratory Manager of Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. Michaelle came to us after a multi-faceted career in office administration and supervision. Her talents and skills keep the lab organized and running efficiently. Her skills have improved laboratory work flow and project turn-around time leading to faster results.

Hilary Babbitt
Hilary Babbitt is the Laboratory Coordinator of Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. Hilary received a BA from the University of Toronto in 2011 and began working with RSTL after moving back to the USA. She is active in both the administrative and testing sides of laboratory activities, providing a keen eye to examining data, reporting and testing.

Nick Lawson
Nick Lawson is a Research Assistant at Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. He completed his BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Maine in 2014. Nick has brought his engineering skills and a sharp mind to testing and other aspects of the business. Nick has been traveling to tracks for onsite testing and looking forward to contributing to the safety of the racing industry. He is currently balancing his time between Grad School and RSTL.

Tamara Thomson
Tamara Thomson is a Research Assistant at Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. She is currently working on her BS in Mechanical Engineering while contributing to RSTL. Tamara is one of our primary testers and is versed in all the test procedures, she is a vital member of the team in both testing, training and writing. She has also been traveling to tracks for onsite testing and eager to expand her work in the industry.

Hannah Rubin
Hannah Rubin is a Research Assistant at Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. While currently a senior at Bangor High School, Hannah has been a key developer in Racing Surfaces Water Holding Capacity Determination test on synthetic track materials. Her work on the test awarded her 2nd place at the Maine State Science Fair in the category of Engineering.

Peggy McKee
Peggy McKee is a Research Assistant at Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. She has a masters in International Agricultural Development from the University of California at Davis. Her studies have given her an edge in soil analysis. Peggy also contributes to the lab in testing, focusing on sieve and hydrometer testing. .

Karen Introne
Karen Introne is a Research Assistant at Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. She is one of our primary testers with a specialty in sieve and hydrometer testing. Karen is eager to expand her work with RSTL by learning additional tests and maintaining testing standards and protocols for the Lab.

Julia Bradson
Julia Bradson is a Research Assistant at Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. She has been spending her summers working with RSTL while working on her BA at Eckerd College throughout the school year. Julia has been a key developer in Racing Surfaces Abrasion Resistance test which will provide fundamental data to an upcoming bulletin on surface wear.

Affiliated Researchers:

Dr. John Bridge
John Bridge is an affiliated researcher with the Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory. Dr. Bridge is an Associate Professor and Coordinator of the Mechanical Engineering program at the University of Washington, Bothell. His area of expertise involves the wax-coated granular composite materials used in Thoroughbred horse racetracks. He has developed synthetic surface testing procedures and has analyzed most of the synthetic racing surfaces used in North America. Current research involves the mechanisms of adhesion and degradation of low viscosity polymer coatings used in these surfaces. His goal is to better understand the thermal-mechanical hoof-surface response in order to achieve more consistent and safer surfaces for the horses and their jockeys. Dr. Bridge is a registered Professional Engineer and also a former Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force with engineering and research experience that include advanced materials characterization at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, research and development of numerous aerospace systems, and operational experience with the U.S. space program on both coasts. He has been an engineering faculty member at several institutions including the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York. He has published several journal articles and numerous conference proceedings involving polymeric, ceramic and metallic materials.

Elin Hernlund, DVM
Elin Hernlund is an affiliated researcher working at the Swedish University of Agricultural sciences. She is writing her PhD thesis on equestrian surfaces where she studies the interaction between the horse and the ground and also the dynamic response of the surface. Her main focus is evaluation of showjumping arenas and how the horse responds and adapts to different surfaces. Elin also works as an equine clinician at the Horse Clinic of the University Hospital in Uppsala, Sweden.




Christie Mahaffey, Ph.D.
Dr. Mahaffey is an affiliated researcher who studies the dynamic properties of equine surfaces. With a background in both mechanical engineering and biology, her research interests focus on the relationships between the material composition and mechanics of equine surfaces, and how these factors can influence biomechanics. She particularly enjoys visiting different equine facilities and working directly with industry stakeholders.




Maren Stavermann, Ph.D.
Dr. Maren Stavermann is an affiliated researcher from Germany with a scientific background in zoology and neurobiology. Having a passion for horses and a strong interest in the equine body's function and locomotor system, Maren has set her professional focus on equine biomechanics by completing an education in equine physiotherapy and structural osteopathy and practicing as an equine therapist. She also works as a scientific manager in an international healthcare communication agency with focus on medical writing. At Racing Surfaces Testing Laboratory, Maren investigates the influence of surfaces on equine biomechanics.