Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

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. He went on to work 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 an ERC Advanced grant and has held a BBSRC Research Fellowship and a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award. He has worked with a range of animals including humans, horses, greyhounds, cheetahs, lions, 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 or

I identify as particular highlights the papers in Nature (2018, 2014, 2013, 2011, 2003, 2001), the 2006 paper with Lichtwark on muscle tendon interaction and the 1994 paper on tendon hyperthermia.

  1. Wilson AM, Hubel TY, Wilshin SD, Lowe JC, Lorenc M, Dewhirst OP, Bartlam-Brooks HLA, Diack R, Bennitt E, Golabek KA, Woledge RC, McNutt JW, Curtin NA, West TG. Biomechanics of predator-prey arms race in lion, zebra, cheetah and impala. (2018) Nature. 554: 183-188.
  2. Wilson AM, Lowe JC, Roskilly K, Hudson PE, Golabek KA, McNutt JW.  Locomotion dynamics of hunting in wild cheetahs. (2013).  Nature.  498: 185-189. 
  3. Wilson AM, McGuigan MP, Su A, van Den Bogert AJ.  Horses damp the spring in their step. (2001).  Nature.  414: 895-899.
  4. Wilson AM, Watson JC, Lichtwark GA.  Biomechanics: A catapult action for rapid limb protraction. (2003).  Nature.  421: 35-36.   
  5. Usherwood JR, Stavrou M, Lowe JC, Roskilly K, Wilson AM.  Flying in a flock comes at a cost in pigeons. (2011).  Nature.  474: 494-497.
  6. 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. (2014) Nature. 505: 399-402
  7. Usherwood JR, Wilson AM.  Biomechanics: no force limit on greyhound sprint speed. (2005).  Nature.  438: 753-754.  
  8. Pfau T, Spence A, Starke, S, Ferrari M, Wilson AM.  Modern Riding Style Improves Horse Racing Times. (2009).  Science. 325: 289.
  9.  Hubel TY, Myatt, JP, Jordan NR, Dewhirst, OP, McNutt, JW, Wilson, AM. Additive opportunistic capture explains group hunting benefits in African wild dogs (2016). Nature Communications. 7:11033.
  10.  Hubel TY, Myatt, JP, Jordan NR, Dewhirst, OP, McNutt, JW, Wilson, AM. Energy cost and return for hunting in African wild dogs and cheetahs (2016). Nature Communications 7:11034.
  11.  Wilson AM, Goodship AE.  Exercise-induced hyperthermia as a possible mechanism for tendon degeneration. (1994).  J Biomechanics.  27: 899-905.   
  12.  Lichtwark GA, Watson JC, Mavrommatis S, Wilson AM.  Intensity of activation and timing of deactivation modulate elastic energy storage and release in a pinnate muscle and account for gait-specific initiation of limb protraction in the horse. (2009).  J Exp Biol.  212: 2454-2463.
  13.  Lichtwark GA, Wilson AM.  Interactions between the human gastrocnemius muscle and the Achilles tendon during incline, level and decline locomotion. (2006).  J Exp Biol.  209: 4379-4388.  
  14.  Hudson PE, Corr SA, Wilson AM.  High speed galloping in the cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and the racing greyhound (Canis familiaris): spatio-temporal and kinetic characteristics. (2012).  J Exp Biol.  215: 2425-2434.
  15. Tan H, Wilson AM.  Grip and limb force limits to turning performance in competition horses. (2010).  Proc Roy Soc B. 278: 2105-2111. 
  16. Dewhirst OP, Roskilly K, Hubel TY, Jordan NR, Golabek KA, McNutt JW, Wilson, AM. An exploratory clustering approach for extracting stride parameters from tracking collars on free-ranging wild animals. (2017) J Exp Biol. 220: 341-346
  17. Pfau T, Witte TH, Wilson AM.  A method for deriving displacement data during cyclical movement using an inertial sensor. (2005).  J Exp Biol.  208: 2503-2514.
  18.  Wilson AM, McGuigan MP, Fouracre L, MacMahon L.  The force and contact stress on the navicular bone during trot locomotion in sound horses and horses with Navicular disease. (2001).  Equine Vet J.  33: 159-165.
  19.  Rees JD, Lichtwark GA, Wolman RL, Wilson AM.  The mechanism for efficacy of eccentric loading in Achilles tendon injury, an in vivo study in humans. (2008). Rheumatology. 47: 1493-1497.  
  20. Wilson AM, Lichtward GA. The anatomical arrangement of muscle and tendon enhances limb versatility and locomotor performance. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B (2011) 366, 1540–1553 doi:10.1098/rstb.2010.0361

Alan teaches on the BVetMed and BVS Comparative Animal Locomotion courses and supervises undergraduate and postgraduate student projects.

In addition to his veterinary qualifications, Alan holds an advanced qualification in chemical and physical restraint of wild animals.

Alan's work has featured in a number of BBC documentaries: BBC Horizon "The Secret Life of the Cat" (series 1 and 2), and BBC 1's "Big Cats" series, both of which used his tracking and movement sensing collars to understand hunting and ranging behaviour as well as giving detailed insight into locomotion.

Alan's equine work featured in Channel 4's "Inside Nature's Giants" series, where he explained the anatomy of the racehorse.


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