My PhD research focusses on how animals with extreme foot designs overcome the mechanical consequences of foot impact.
I graduated from Sparsholt College in 2004 with a BSc (Hons) degree in Equine Studies. Following this I spent a year conducting nutrition and exercise physiology research assisting Dr Joe Pagan at Kentucky Equine Research in the US. I was subsequently employed as a Technician in the Structure and Motion Lab until I started my PhD in October 2009. My project is entitled ‘Basic principles of foot design, locomotor impact mechanics and pathology in large mammals’ under the supervision of Dr John Hutchinson, Dr Renate Weller and Dr Olga Panagiotopoulou.
During locomotion, the foot functions to support, stabilise, brake and propel the body, whilst accommodating locomotor forces and providing necessary friction. Despite having to achieve equivocal functions, mammalian foot design is highly variable with regards to anatomy, biology and locomotor behaviour. By comparing impact mechanics in two extreme foot designs (i.e. that of the horse and elephant) my work will reveal how foot morphology and loading behaviour influences the incidence and prevalence of foot disease.
A major goal of my PhD work has been to characterise features of foot impact in hoofed mammals of increasing size in order to understand how body size influences mechanics. For example, how does a 3000kg elephant mitigate ~150kg of foot mass colliding with the ground every step? My current work focusses on the role of the digital cushion in shock absorption and how impact vibrations are attenuated in horses and elephants. I look forward to becoming involved in investigating the influence of captivity/domesticity on foot structure and function in the future.
Warner SE, Pickering P, Panagiotopoulou O, Pfau T, Ren L, et al. (2013) Size-Related Changes in Foot Impact Mechanics in Hoofed Mammals. PLoS ONE 8(1): e54784. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054784, http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0054784
Dakin. S.G., K. Jespers., S. Warner., L.K. O’Hara., J. Dudhia., A.E. Goodship., A.M. Wilson and R.K.W. Smith. (2010). The relationship between in vivo limb and in vitro tendon mechanics after injury: A potential novel tool for monitoring tendon repair. Equine Veterinary Journal. Vol 43. Issue 4. P418-423.