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. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
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.
- 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.
- Wilson AM, Lowe JC, Roskilly K, Hudson PE, Golabek KA, McNutt JW. Locomotion dynamics of hunting in wild cheetahs. (2013). Nature. 498: 185-189.
- Wilson AM, McGuigan MP, Su A, van Den Bogert AJ. Horses damp the spring in their step. (2001). Nature. 414: 895-899.
- Wilson AM, Watson JC, Lichtwark GA. Biomechanics: A catapult action for rapid limb protraction. (2003). Nature. 421: 35-36.
- 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.
- 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
- Usherwood JR, Wilson AM. Biomechanics: no force limit on greyhound sprint speed. (2005). Nature. 438: 753-754.
- Pfau T, Spence A, Starke, S, Ferrari M, Wilson AM. Modern Riding Style Improves Horse Racing Times. (2009). Science. 325: 289.
- 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.
- 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.
- Wilson AM, Goodship AE. Exercise-induced hyperthermia as a possible mechanism for tendon degeneration. (1994). J Biomechanics. 27: 899-905.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Tan H, Wilson AM. Grip and limb force limits to turning performance in competition horses. (2010). Proc Roy Soc B. 278: 2105-2111.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
Specialising in locomotion and hunting behaviour of wild animals in southern Africa, our researchers know more about the lifestyle of many wild cats than the humble domestic moggy. They decided to find out more about how Britain's cats spend their days...
Measuring the detailed movement and relative location of individual animals within groups has, up to now, not been possible in most situations. The CARDyAL project has been designed to open a new field of research in this area, and in so doing to develop tools and methods that can be used in many other applications.
A new study by researchers at the Royal Veterinary College’s Structure and Motion Laboratory and Botswana Predator Conservation Trust reveals that African wild dogs in mixed woodland savannah habitats may be more energetically robust than previously thought.
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.
People: Alan Wilson
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.
Professor Alan Wilson leads a team of researchers in the southern African savannah to identify how speed, manoeuvring and habitat impact the hunting and evasion practices of carnivores and their prey.
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.
The RVC Structure and Motion Lab aircraft has been funded through research grants to enable us to undertake research into animal locomotion that would not otherwise be possible, by going up into the air. As well as helping us to understand more about behaviour and locomotion, this aerial data acquisition platform will reveal new insights into how animals interact with the natural environment, which will aid conservation and land management.
People: Alan Wilson
The Science of Animal Locomotion: how do animals run, jump and fly? Discover the science behind the movement and learn about the innovations that help us study them in the laboratory and in the wild.