Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences
Research Groups: Musculoskeletal Biology
Research Centres: Structure & Motion Laboratory
Alan is Professor of Locomotor Biomechanics and leader of the Locomotion (Muscle, Tendon and Biomechanics) Research Group. Read about Alan's research here.
Alan graduated from Glasgow University in 1987 having studied Veterinary Medicine and an intercalated BSc in Physiology. He subsequently undertook a PhD in the Anatomy Department at Bristol University where he studied the mechanical basis of tendon injury. Alan worked for a brief period as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate and then as a lecturer.
Alan moved to the Royal Veterinary College in 1996 where he now holds the post of Professor of Locomotor Biomechanics and leader of the Locomotion (Muscle, Tendon and Biomechanics) Research Group.
Alan's scientific interests include:
- design of animals for high speed locomotion and factors limiting athletic performance,
- innovative measurement techniques for studying animals during field locomotion,
- muscle-tendon interaction in locomotion,
- diagnosis, assessment and treatment of locomotor dysfunction.
Alan currently holds and ERC Advanced grant and has held a BBSRC Research Fellowship and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. (see Links). He has worked with a range of animals including humans, horses, greyhounds, ostriches and camels with plans for others in the future.
Please see my Google Scholar profile, which includes all of my published papers, as well as some abstracts. This also indicates current citations and links. Where papers are not freely available from the links, we are pleased to email them on request. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
I identify as particular highlights the following papers in Nature (2014, 2013, 2011, 2003, 2001), the 2006 paper with Lichtwark on muscle tendon interaction and the 1994 paper on tendon hyperthermia:
2014 Portugal SJ, Hubel TY, Fritz J, Heese S, Trobe D, Voelkl B, Hailes S, Wilson AM ,Usherwood JR. Upwash exploitation and downwash avoidance by flap phasing in ibis formation flight. Nature. 505: 399-402. Online.
2013 Wilson AM, Lowe JC, Roskilly K, Hudson PE, Golabek KA, McNutt JW . Locomotion dynamics of hunting in wild cheetahs. Nature. 498: 185-189. Online.
2011 Usherwood JR, Stavrou M, Lowe JC, Roskilly K, Wilson AM. Flying in a flock comes at a cost in pigeons. Nature, 474: 494-497. Online.
2003 Wilson AM, Watson JC, Lichtwark GA. Biomechanics: A catapult action for rapid limb protraction. Nature. 421: 35-36. Online.
2001 Wilson AM, McGuigan MP, Su A, van Den Bogert AJ. Horses damp the spring in their step. Nature. 414: 895-899. Online.
2006 Lichtwark GA, Wilson AM. Interactions between the human gastrocnemius muscle and the Achilles tendon during incline, level and decline locomotion. J Exp Biol. 209: 4379-4388. Online.
2004 Wilson AM, Goodship AE. Exercise-induced hyperthermia as a possible mechanism for tendon degeneration. J Biomech. 27: 899-905. Online.
Lameness is a significant welfare and economic problem in dairy farming. We undertook research to develop an automated way of detecting which dairy cows were developing lameness.
Our researchers investigate the locomotion and hunting behaviour of wild animals in southern Africa . Surprisingly, we know more about the lifestyle of many wild cats than the humble domestic moggy. So our researchers took their research skills and technology out closer to home to find out more about how Britain's cats spend their days...
It is well known that cheetahs are the world’s fastest sprinters, but until this study the top speed of wild cheetahs had never been measured.
Most measurements of cheetah locomotion had been made on captive animals chasing a lure in a straight line, with few studies eliciting speeds faster than racing greyhounds.
For wild cheetahs, estimates of speed have only ever been made from direct observation or film, in open habitat and during daylight hours. Even the highly cited 'cheetah top speed' comes from just three measured runs by one individual cheetah in 1965.
In this study we investigate whether that single animal really did reveal the cheetah’s top speed and discover more about the cheetah's other remarkable athletic capabilities.
People: Alan Wilson (awilson)
Research by Alan Wilson's team and published in the Journal of Experimental Biology has revealed new insights into why cheetahs can achieve much higher speeds than racing greyhounds, even though they appear to have similar size and anatomy.
The carnivores of the southern African savannah have no domestic counterparts and are at the extremes of performance in terms of speed, agility and strength. They are amongst the most threatened species in the world and yet there is much we do not know about them. We do not know how the predators or their prey achieve the speed and manoeuvring required for the chase, what features of the habitat makes the difference between success and failure in hunting or how far the animals travel in a day or night and many other factors that may influence success and survival. The LOCATE project, led by Professor Alan Wilson, is addressing all of these questions in a single, cohesive study that has the potential to change the way science is done in a number of disciplines and may contribute to the survival of endangered species.
Huntington's Disease (HD) is an incurable neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and some cognitive functions in humans.
SML have solved a century old puzzle — how jockeys can help horses run faster.
People: Alan Wilson (awilson)
The Science of Animal Locomotion
How do animals run, jump and fly?
Discover the science behind the movement.
Learn about the innovations that help us study them in the laboratory and the wild.