Keeping up with the changing needs in their wardrobes is a common concern women have during pregnancy. Measurements and sizing standards for maternity apparel may not accurately reflect pregnant women’s changing shapes. A College of Human Sciences doctoral student’s research on the changes in body shape and size over nine months has proved to be award winning. Design, housing and merchandising student Mahendran Balasubramanian received one of three international graduate scholarships from the American Society for Testing and Materials International(ASTM).

A doctoral student at Oklahoma State University has received one of only three international graduate scholarships for his research that could establish new size guidelines to better meet the changing wardrobe needs of pregnant women.


A design, housing and merchandising student in the College of Human Sciences, Mahendran Balasubramanian, received the $10,000 scholarship from the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTM) for his research on the changes in body shape and size over nine months of pregnancy.


Balasubramanian’s research “Anthropometric Dynamics of Pregnant Women and Their Implications on Apparel Sizing” is directed at improving the ASTM standards in the clothing and textiles domain and could ultimately change those standards.


His work on digital human modeling and anthropometric (body measurement) dynamics of pregnant women is providing new insight to the topic. Using 3D body scanning techniques, he tracked the actual bodily changes in pregnant women six times over the nine-month gestation period and compared it with estimated changes, to develop a more reliable sizing chart. 


“The results of the study showed that the actual measurement changes are significantly different from the ASTM’s estimated changes in the waist and the hips,” Balasubramanian said. “ It appears that if the observed differences between the actual and the ASTM’s estimated measurements are taken into consideration, a more reliable and robust sizing chart will be developed in the future.”


Additionally, his other research areas include the development of wearable electronics. The standards for e-textiles are still in their early stages, and his research could be a potential contributor.


“My research involvement in vital signal monitoring with textile sensors would allow me to provide recommendations for e-textile evaluation and maintenance,” he said.


Balasubramanian received his master’s degree in apparel sciences and design from Auburn University and is working on a doctorate at OSU in design, housing and merchandising with a focus on clothing systems.


Kathleen Robinette, DHM department head and Balasubramanian’s dissertation advisor, said he is very deserving of the award. “Mahendran was the lead author on two papers that he presented masterfully at an international conference and he has been asked to submit a paper for a special issue of a journal related to measurement and sizing standards,” Robinette said.  “These experiences emphasize his capability for both research and public speaking.”


Balasubramanian is a teacher as well as a graduate student. He has been a graduate teaching assistant for the past two years as instructor of record for courses involving textiles and advanced technology for apparel design. His passion is to continue his career in academia as a teacher and researcher.


Robinette said Balasubramanian loves to teach and his students seem to love him in return. “He is an exceptional young man who is not only very bright, knowledgeable and competent, but is kind, compassionate and helpful to others. In diverse and myriad ways, Balasubramanian is making a difference in the lives of many people.”

Read more


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here