Dr Aleksandra Birn-Jeffrey

Aleksandra Birn-Jeffery

Aleks completed a PhD in the Structure & Motion Laboratory, under the supervision of Monica Daley and John Hutchinson. Her work focused primarily on galliform birds. She subsequently worked as a Postdoc at the University of California, Riverside and is currently a research associate in Walter Federle's lab at the University of Cambridge.


Aleks graduated in 2008 with an MSc in Palaeontology and Evolution from the University of Bristol. Her project, supervised by Dr Emily Rayfield, looked into the possibilities of inferring mode of life in extinct species using Finite Element Analysis of extant bird and reptile claws.

This has led to her interest in the field of biomechanics. She is currently undertaking a PhD, supervised by Dr Monica Daley and Dr John Hutchinson, on the effects of body size on limb posture and stability in unsteady locomotion, focussing on galliform birds.

Email: aleks.birnjeffery@gmail.com

Selected Publications

Birn-Jeffery, A. V. and Daley, M. A. (2012). Birds achieve high robustness in uneven terrain through active control of landing conditions. The Journal of Experimental Biology 215, 2117-2127.

Blum, Y., Birn-Jeffery, A.V., Daley, M.A., Seyfarth, A. (2011) Does A Crouched Leg Posture Enhance Running Stability and Robustness? Journal of Theoretical Biology, 281(1): 97-106

Dr Florence Albert-Davie

Florence completed her PhD with Professor Richard Bomphrey in January 2018.

Dr Mark Bowtell

Mark bowanMark completed a doctorate here at the RVC (Structure & Motion Laboratory, 2009) looking at the mechanical limitations of performance in human running, supervised by Professor Alan Wilson.


Mark has a Mechanical Engineering background (BEng, University of Nottingham, 2004) and has a keen interest in the application of mechanics to human locomotion.

He then studied Sports Biomechanics (MSc, Loughborough University, 2006) which included a research project into the motor control involved in soccer penalty kicks.

During his time at the RVC, Mark contributed to feedback-controlled treadmill technology and a partial suspension system with which he applied gravitational and inertial perturbations to humans attempting maximum running speed.

He compared theoretical models based on limb force limits and developed a further model based on a leg stiffness limit. He explored the partial success of these models in explaining the influence of the different conditions on attainable speed.

Now training as a Clinical Scientist with the NHS in Oxford, Mark plans to specialise in assistive technologies and gait analysis. He has a keen interest in medical devices and is eager to explore emerging technologies and develop new systems, as well as continue research and teaching 

Dr Vera Cady

Vera CadyVera is now a research student in the Department of Computer Science, University College London, working towards a PhD at UCL funded by the EPSRC. She is a member of the Networks Research Group and the Mobile Systems Interest Group in the department. She is also a member of the SESAME consortium and of the Wireless Sensing Interest Group (WiSIG). Her supervisors are Dr Stephen Hailes (CS, UCL) and Professor Alan Wilson (Structure & Motion Lab, RVC).

Vera has also been sponsored by CSEL (Centre for Scientific Enterprise Limited) to attend some of the London Business School's MBA Electives, and has successfully completed New Technology Ventures and Understanding Entrepreneurial Management courses.

Contact Details

Department of Computer Science
University College of London
Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT, UK
fax: +44 (0)207 387 1397

Dr Sarah Channon

Sarah Channon

Sarah completed her PhD with the Structure and Motion Laboratory in 2007 and has since returned to the RVC as a Lecturer in Veterinary Anatomy.


Sarah is a comparative anatomist by training, having completed a BSc in Equine Science (now Comparative Veterinary Anatomy) at the University of Bristol (2004). She then gained a PhD in Locomotor Anatomy and Biomechanics from the RVC in the Structure and Motion Laboratory (2007). Her thesis focused on the locomotor anatomy and performance of animals with exceptional sprinting abilities - the hare and racing greyhound. Following this, she spent two and a half years at the University of Liverpool as a Lecturer in Veterinary Preclinical Science before returning to the RVC in her current role.


Sarah carries out anatomical, biomechanics and educational research. She is particularly interested in 'unsteady' locomotion (for example acceleration, deceleration and turning) and also how the anatomy of the locomotor system can adapt to deal with loading. She is currently researching how the anatomy of the musculoskeletal system alters during growth, and how it adapts following a limb amputation.

Selected Publications

N. D. Lorenz, S. Channon, R. Pettitt, P. Smirthwaite, J. F. Innes. Ex vivo kinematic studies of a canine unlinked semi-constrained hybrid total elbow arthroplasty system. Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology (VCOT) Epub ahead of print: November 14, 2014. http://dx.doi.org/10.3415/VCOT-14-01-0002

J.M. Roach, T. Pfau, J. Bryars, V. Unt, S.B. Williams, R. Weller Sagittal distal limb kinematics inside the hoof capsule captured using high-speed fluoroscopy in walking and trotting horses. The Veterinary Journal 01/2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.tvjl.2014.06.014

Emma L Webster, Penny E Hudson, Sarah B Channon. Comparative functional anatomy of the epaxial musculature of dogs (Canis familiaris) bred for sprinting vs. fighting. Journal of Anatomy (2014); DOI: 10.1111/joa.12208

Hall, E., Davis, R., Weller, R., Powney, S., and Williams S.B. Doing Dissections Differently: A Structured, Peer Assisted Learning Approach to Maximizing Learning in Dissections. Anatomical Science Education. 2012.

Braid, F., Williams, S.B., Weller, R. Design and Validation of a Novel Learning Tool, the
‘‘Anato-Rug,’’ for Teaching Equine Topographical Anatomy. Anatomical Science Education. 2012. [E-pub ahead of print, DOI: 10.1002/ase.1295]

Harvey AM, Williams SB, Singer ER. The effect of lateral heel studs on the kinematics of the equine digit while cantering on grass. Vet J. 2011 Jul 11. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:21752677

Waining M, Young IS, Williams SB. Evaluation of the status of canine hydrotherapy in the UK. Vet Rec. 2011 Apr 16;168(15):407. PMID:21493454

Williams SB, Tan H, Usherwood JR, Wilson AM. Pitch then power: limitations to acceleration in quadrupeds. Biol Lett. 2009 Oct 23;5(5):610-3. PMID:19553249

Williams SB, Usherwood JR, Jespers K, Channon AJ, Wilson AM. Exploring the mechanical basis for acceleration: pelvic limb locomotor function during accelerations in racing greyhounds (Canis familiaris). J Exp Biol. 2009 Feb;212(Pt 4):550-65. PMID:19181903

Williams SB, Wilson AM, Daynes J, Peckham K, Payne RC. Functional anatomy and muscle moment arms of the thoracic limb of an elite sprinting athlete: the racing greyhound (Canis familiaris). J Anat. 2008 Oct;213(4):373-82. PMID:19034998

Williams SB, Wilson AM, Rhodes L, Andrews J, Payne RC. Functional anatomy and muscle moment arms of the pelvic limb of an elite sprinting athlete: the racing greyhound (Canis familiaris). J Anat. 2008 Oct;213(4):361-72. PMID:18657259

Williams SB, Wilson AM, Payne RC. Functional specialisation of the thoracic limb of the hare (Lepus europeus). J Anat. 2007 Apr;210(4):491-505. PMID:17428206

Williams SB, Payne RC, Wilson AM. Functional specialisation of the pelvic limb of the hare (Lepus europeus). J Anat. 2007 Apr; 210(4):472-90. PMID:17362487

Usherwood JR, Williams SB, Wilson AM. Mechanics of dog walking compared with a passive, stiff-limbed, 4-bar linkage model, and their collisional implications. J Exp Biol. 2007 Feb;210(Pt 3):533-40. PMID:17234623

Dr Amber Jade Collings


Amber attended the University of Portsmouth, graduating with BSc (Hons) Forensic Biology accredited by The Forensic Science Society (FSSoc) in 2013. An interest in skeletal biology drove her decision to complete the MSc Human Evolution at The Hull York Medical School (HYMS) in York (graduated 2014). Here she became particularly interested in musculoskeletal anatomy and functional morphology. She began her PhD at the RVC in October 2014 which focuses on the musculoskeletal anatomy and function of the pelvis in frogs.


Amber completed her PhD with Dr Chris Richards in December 2017 and is currently a Forensic Technician at the University of Portsmouth. Her ERC-funded project investigated frog locomotion focusing in particular on the musculoskeletal function and evolution of the pelvic apparatus. 

Dr Tracy Crook

Tracy Crook

Tracy was course director of the MSc in Veterinary Physiotherapy at the RVC. She studied part time with the Structure and Motion Lab on the role of the equine hind limb muscles during locomotion and was awarded her PhD in September 2012.


Tracy qualified as a chartered physiotherapist in 1983, after which she worked in a variety of clinical settings in both the NHS and the Private Sector. After obtaining an MSc in Public Sector Management in 1989, Tracy spent a couple of years working at Coventry and Warwickshire Hospitals as a hospital manager.

Missing clinical practice, and having spent several years as an active Terratorial Army Officer, she became one of the first Physiotherapists to be directly commissioned into the armed forces in 1993, and served for three years as a Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

After leaving the army, Tracy returned to study for an MSc in Veterinary Physiotherapy at the Royal Veterinary College and subsequently was appointed as Course Director.

Tracy is married to Andrew and lives in Buckinghamshire with her two horses, dogs, Siamese cats and bunnies.

Selected Publications

CROOK TC, CRUICKSHANK SE, MCGOWAN CM, STUBBS N, WAKELING JM, WILSON AM, PAYNE RC. (2008) Comparative anatomy and muscle architecture of selected hind limb muscles in the Quarter Horse and Arab. J. Anat. 212: 144-52

Dr Enrico Eberhard

Enrico completed his PhD in 2019 and is now a robotics developer at Automata in London. 

Enrico was a PhD student supervised by Chris Richards as part of a team researching the locomotion of frogs, with funding from the ERC. Enrico has a degree in Robotics and aims to develop new methods for modelling animal movements. 

Dr Marta Ferrari


Marta Ferrari

Marta graduated in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Bologna, Italy, in 2004. She first came to the Structure & Motion Lab for a Research internship in summer 2003. At that time she worked on her final year project about three-dimensional ultrasound of equine tendons supervised by Dr. Renate Weller. She then visited some equine practices around the UK before doing an internship in the Equine Hospital at the Royal Veterinary College. In October 2005 she returned to the Structure and Motion Lab to start her PhD entitled "Dynamic conformation: the influence of conformation on equine locomotion". She was supervised by Dr. Renate Weller and Dr. Alan Wilson and sponsored by the Horserace Betting Levy Board.


  1. Pfau T, Ferrari M, Parsons K, Wilson AM. (2008) A hidden Markov model based stride segmentation technique applied to equine inertial sensor trunk movement data. J Biomech. In Press.
  2. Parsons KJ, Pfau T, Ferrari M, Wilson AM. (2008) High speed gallop locomotion in the Thoroughbred racehorse II: The effect of incline on centre of mass movement and mechanical energy fluctuation. J Exp Biol. 211: 945-956.
  3. Weller R, Pfau T, Ferrari M, Griffith R, Bradford T, Wilson A. (2007) The determination of muscle volume with a freehand 3D ultrasonography system. Ultrasound Med Biol. 33: 402-407.
  4. Ferrari M, Weller R, Pfau T, Payne RC, Wilson AM. (2006) A comparison of three-dimensional ultrasound, two-dimensional ultrasound and dissections for determination of lesion volume in tendons. Ultrasound Med Biol; 32: 797-804. pdf

Dr Jo Gordon


Jo was a PhD student in the Structure & Motion Laboratory under the supervision of Dr. Monica Daley in collaboration with Professor Alan Wilson. Her project, funded by the BBSRC, investigated the role of pinnate muscles in mechanics and control of stable locomotion in the guinea fowl.

Dr Jade Hall

Jade's PhD was associated with the London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Biosciences Consortium, funded by BBSRC. Jade’s project was based within the Structure and Motion Lab but also had strong ties to the RVC Animal Welfare Science and Ethics group. The aim of Jade’s project was to investigate dynamic quantitative analysis of posture and movement as an indicator of bird personality and affective state in individuals and group settings. She was supervised by Dr Monica Daley and Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe. 

Jade completed a Biology BSc with a year in industry at University of Kent.

Dr Eva Herbst

  After leaving the RVC in 2019, Eva started as a postdoctoral researcher at the Palaeontological Institute and Museum at the University of Zurich, modelling feeding biomechanics in Triassic reptiles.

Eva Herbst completed her PhD with John Hutchinson. During her studies, Eva used biomechanical modelling to investigate locomotor changes in early tetrapods. Eva also researched the evolution of bone healing by examining pathological bone formation in extinct and extant taxa. Eva completed a B.A. in Integrative Biology at U.C. Berkeley in 2016.

Dr Emma Hodson-Tole

Emma at Grand Canyon

Emma completed her PhD with the RVC in 2007 and is a current Reader in Neuromusculoskeletal Integration at Manchester Metropolitan University. 


Emma graduated from Hartpury College in 1999 with a BSc (Hons) Equine Science and went on to complete her MSc Equine Science in 2004. Whilst studying for her undergraduate degree, Emma spent 7 months working with Dr. Hilary Clayton at Michigan State University where she developed an interest in equine locomotion and biomechanics. As part of Emma's masters course she studied muscle activity in the forelimb of horses during locomotion on an incline. Emma joined the lab in October 2004 to work with Dr. James Wakeling on her PhD looking at the recruitment patterns of muscle fibres during different locomotor activities.

Emma graduated from the RVC in 2007 and, following a spell of teaching at the College, she moved to the USA to continue her career at the School of Applied Physiology, Georgia Institute of Technolgy in Atlanta. In the winter of 2008 she returned to UK to work at the Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health at Manchester Metropolitan University. We wish her every success in the future.

Email: E.Tole@mmu.ac.uk 

Dr Penny Hudson

Penny Hudson

Penny is now a Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Biomechanics at the University of Chichester.


Penny graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2007 with a BSc in Veterinary Science. As part of this degree she undertook a project into the mechanical properties of limb tendons within the okapi. She then chose to investigate the functional anatomy of the okapi and its closest living relative, the giraffe, as part of her final year project.

Having enjoyed her time at the RVC and having developed an interest in the field of functional anatomy and locomotion, Penny decided to undertake a PhD. She was supervised by Rachel Payne, Alan Wilson and Sandra Corr and successfully defended her thesis entitled “The structural and functional specialisation of locomotion in the cheetah" (Acinonyx jubatus) in December 2011.

Penny remained with the Structure & Motion Laboratory in a Post Doctoral role for a short, fixed contract until June 2012, at which point she accepted the offer of a position as a Senior Lecturer at Chichester University.

Email: p.hudson@chi.ac.uk

Dr Luis Lamas


Luis qualified from the Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária in Lisbon, Portugal in 2001. Following an externship at the University of California Davis he spent two years in private practice in Évora, Portugal. In 2003 he completed an internship in Equine Studies at the University of Cambridge, followed by a residency in Large Animal Surgery at the same institution. He is a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Surgeons (www.ecvs.org) by examination and has been awarded the Certificate in Equine Orthopaedic Surgery by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons (RCVS).

Luis has recently completed a PhD in the exciting areas of bioengineering and biomechanics under the supervision of Prof. John Hutchinson (RVC), Dr. Sandra Shefelbine (Imperial College) and Dr. Russel Main (Purdue Vet School, USA).


PhD project title:

The influence of growth on emu (Dromaius; Aves) musculoskeletal biomechanics: an integrative experimental and modeling analysis

By acquiring in vivo data of the mechanical strains occurring in the long bones of the pelvic limb we will characterise their mechanical environment and how it changes as the animals grows. Together with kinetic and kinematic data we will construct computerised models of locomotion (SIMM) and material models of each bone using the Finite Element method. These models will allow for predictions of bone development and the influence of the mechanical environment in this process.

The application of these models are diverse: these predictions will allow for a detailed study of developmental disorders and clinical approaches to their management as well as greatly reducing the need for in vivo experimentation.

For the first time data of this kind and detail will be available for any species (full limb strain patterns) and more so across an ontogenetic series.

This unprecedented approach to study ontogenetic scaling and adaptation will produce the most robust and models to date as we will be able to validate them against real data.

Why Emus?

Emus grow extremely fast and also a lot! They multiply their body weight approximately 40x before reaching adulthood. This makes them a useful model to study development since changes will be more evident with such an exacerbated growth pattern.

Emus are bipedal and have been shown to share similarities with certain human joints.

Many skeletal problems affect the ratite industry, we hope that our results will be able to help solve or at least prevent some of them.

Emus are extant birds closely related to many extinct animals and are therefore interesting subjects to study from a paleontological perspective.

Selected Publications

Lamas, L., Edmonds, J., Hodge, W., Coomer, R., Burford, J., Munroe, GA., “Use of Ethanol in the Treatment of osteoarthritis of the distal tarsal joints in horses: 24 cases”. Equine Vet Journal, 2012 Jul;44(4):399-403

Lamas, L.; Henson, F.M.,; Kidd, J.A. “Desmectomy of a septic accessory ligament of the deep digital flexor tendon in the hindlimb of a horse under standing sedation” Equine Veterinary Education, 20 (12) 620-624, 2008

Kidd, J. A.; Lamas, L.; Henson, F.M.. “Repair of a Longitudinal Scapular Fracture in a Horse” Veterinary Surgery 36 (4), 378–381, 2007

Lamas, L., Jeffcott, L.B.; Heath, M.F.; Giovagnolli, G. “Some Factors affecting the accuracy and variability of measurements of height of ponies”, The Veterinary Record, 160 (20) 691-694 2007

Henson, F.M., Lamas, L., Knevitiz, S.; Jeffcott, L.B., “Ultrasonographic evaluation of the supraspinous ligament in a series of ridden and unridden horses and horses with unrelated back pathology”, BMC Veterinary Research 2007, 3:3

Lima M.S., Malta M., Lamas L. “Comparison of the effects of xylazine on the increase of blood glucose in Friesian and Mertolenga heifers”, in Revista da Sociedade Portuguesa de Ciencias Veterinarias, Vol. XCVI, N 539, Jul-Set 2001.

Book Chapters:

Lamas, L., Suprapinous ligament and dorsal sacroiliac ligament desmitis”, in Equine Back Pathology. Editor: Frances Henson, Blackwell Publishing. 2009

Lamas, L, Equine castration and complications”, in Equine Medicine and Surgery, Editors: Dr. Graham Munroe and Scott Wease. Mason Publishing. 2011.

Dr Glen Lichtwark

Glen standing in front of a mountainous landscape

Glen now works with The University of Queensland, Australia, as a Senior Lecturer for the School of Human Movement.


Glen graduated with a BSc (Hons) from the university of Queensland, Australia, in the field of Human Movement Science. He has finished his PhD in 2005, conducting comparative biomechanics research both at the Structure and Motion Lab and the Institute of Human Performance (UCL). He is interested in the role of the muscle-tendon unit in movement production and mechanisms by which movement is controlled, particularly the role of elasticity and biarticular muscles in control of movement. 

Glen graduated in 2005 and has returned to Australia to conduct further research at Griffith University (www.griffith.edu.au/school/pes/ppages/lichtwark.html).

Contact email: g.lichtwark@griffith.edu.au

Publications and Theses

  1. Lichtwark, G.A., Bougoulias, K., & Wilson, A.M. (2006) Muscle fibre and series elastic element length changes along the length of the gastrocnemius during walking and running. Journal of Biomechanics . In Press. [PDF]
  2. Lichtwark, G.A. & Wilson, A.M. (2005) In vivo mechanical properties of the human Achilles tendon during one-legged hopping . Journal of Experimental Biology . 208 (24), 4715-4725. [PDF]
  3. Lichtwark, G.A. & Wilson, A.M. (2005) Effects of series elasticity and activation conditions on muscle power output and efficiency. Journal of Experimental Biology . 208 (15), 2845-2853. [PDF]
  4. Lichtwark, G.A. & Wilson, A.M. (2005) A modified Hill muscle model that predicts muscle power output and efficiency during sinusoidal length changes. Journal of Experimental Biology . 208 (15), 2831-2843. [PDF]
  5. Wilson, A.M., Watson, J.C., Lichtwark, G.A. (2003) A catapult action for rapid limb protraction. Nature, 421, 35-36. [PDF]
  6. Lichtwark, G.A.. (2005). The role of muscle-tendon unit elasticity in real life activaties.. PhD thesis, University College London. [PDF]

Research Interests

  • Muscle power vs muscle efficiency
  • The role of muscle elasticity in the control of movement
  • Control with multi-articular muscles
  • Forward dynamic modelling
  • Image processing and 3D reconstruction


Animations of real-time ultrasonography of the Achilles tendon-gastrocnemius junction and stick figure animation of Achilles tendon strain during one-legged hopping available in the Journal of Experimental Biology supplementary information section - http://jeb.biologists.org/cgi/content/full/208/24/4715/DC1

Dr Anna Liedtke

Anna is currently employed by the University of Birmingham as a Postdoc for the School of Sports Exercise and Rehabilitation Sciences. 


Anna graduated in 2006 with a BSc. (Hons) in Veterinary Science (now Bioveterinary Science) from The Royal Veterinary College (RVC), University of London. Her bachelor project, supervised by Prof. Janet Patterson-Kane, looked into age related changes in connexin protein expression in equine superficial digital flexor tendons. This then extended into a Pfizer sponsored summer studentship comparing her findings in the horse to human Achilles tendons. Anna then decided to continue her undergraduate studies graduating with a BVet. Med. from the RVC. Her project, supervised by Dr. Richard Piercy, looked into gross and histological characterisation of the equine sacrocaudalis dorsalis muscles in the context of diagnosing Equine Motor Neuron disease and Polyneuritis Equi.This has led her to further her research interests, particularly in the fields of neuromechanics and neuromuscular disorders. Anna subsequently undertook a PhD at the RVC, supervised by Dr. Andrew Spence and Prof. John Hutchinson, in comparative sensory biomechanics.


Anna's PhD project title was: Comparative sensory biomechanics of locomotion in horses, dogs and insects

This project focused on how animals use sensory feedback in the neural control of locomotion. By comparing legged animals of different size and morphology, Anna explored general understanding of how legged animals control their locomotion. This basic knowledge of how the nervous system underlies locomotion can bring fundamental insight into the aetiology of both veterinary and human diseases.

Selected Publications

Liedtke, A.M., Moore, S., Witte, T., Spence, A.J. (2012, 79.2). How do animals with limited distal limb musculature use sensory feedback during locomotion? Integrative and Comparative Biology, 2012, 52:E106-E

Presentations at International Conferences:

How does loss of digital sensory feedback affect locomotion in the horse?, ICEL, Ströhmsholm, Sweden, 2012

How do animals with limited distal limb musculature use sensory feedback during locomotion?, Annual SICB Conference, Charleston, USA, 2012

How do animals with limited distal limb musculature use sensory feedback during locomotion?, Annual SEB Conference, Glasgow, UK, 2011

Dr Polly McGuigan

Polly M


Polly graduated in zoology from Bristol and then did her PhD "The scope for adjusting compliance in the equine distal limb" and before completing her post doc on equine limb mechanics here in the Structure and Motion Lab.

She moved to the university of Leeds to study bird flight in April 2002 and from there to Harvard University.

Since 2005, Polly has been a Lecturer in Biomechanics at the University of Bath www.bath.ac.uk/health/sportsandexercise/Profiles/mcguigan.html

Email: m.p.mcguigan@bath.ac.uk 

Dr Charlotte Miller

Charlotte chillin' in the woods

Charlotte presently works as a Lecturer in Biology for the University of South Wales.


Charlotte graduated with a BSc in Biological Sciences from Imperial College, London, in 2003, and completed an MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol with Professor Michael Benton in 2004. Her research project concentrated on the relationship between bird claw morphology and locomotor behaviour, producing a model for interpreting palaeoecology in extinct birds and non-avialian theropods.

Charlotte's PhD project, supervised by Dr John Hutchinson, focussed on the locomotor biomechanics of large size, establishing limits on the locomotor abilities of elephants as the largest living land animals. This involved anatomical, functional, scaling and biomechanical research on elephant limbs, especially the enigmatic feet. She graduated in 2009.

Charlotte is currently undertaking a Post Doc at Duke University.


  1. Ren, L., M. Butler, C. Miller, D. Schwerda, M. Fischer, J.R. Hutchinson. 2009. The movements of limb segments and joints during locomotion in African and Asian elephants. Journal of Experimental Biology 211:2735-2751. pdf and associated files (.zip archive)
  2. Miller, C.M., C. Basu, G. Fritsch, T. Hildebrandt, J.R. Hutchinson. 2008. Ontogenetic scaling of foot musculoskeletal anatomy in elephants. J. Roy. Soc. Interface 5:465-476. pdf and associated files (.zip archive)

Books Chapters & Reviews

  1. Hutchinson, J.R., C.E. Miller, G. Fritsch, T. Hildebrandt. 2008. The anatomical foundation for multidisciplinary studies of animal limb function: examples from dinosaur and elephant limb imaging studies. pp. 23-38 in H. Endo and R. Frey (eds.), Anatomical Imaging Techniques: Towards a New Morphology. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. [1.1pdf]

Recent presentations

  1. Miller, C.E., Hill, Z., Ren, L. and Hutchinson, J.R. (2008) Beyond shock absorbers: Elephant feet as multi-functional dynamic structures. Society for Experimental Biology, Annual Main Meeting.
  2. Miller, C.E. (2008) Elephant foot mechanics: An integrative approach. Centre for Ecology and Evolution Workshop: Modern Approaches in Functional Anatomy.
  3. Miller, C.E., Ren, L. & Hutchinson, J.R. (2007) An integrative analysis of elephant foot biomechanics. Conference Abstract, 8th International Congress on Vertebrate Morphology, Paris.
  4. Miller, C.E., Barber, E., Hutchinson, J.R., Fritsch, G. & Hildebrandt, T. (2006) The scaling of foot musculoskeletal anatomy in elephants. Conference Abstract, Society of Experimental Biology Annual Meeting, Canterbury. 2nd place, Biomechanics poster competition.
  5. Miller, C.E., Benton, M.J. & Hone, D.W.E. (2005) An analysis of claw mechanics in arboreal and terrestrial organisms. Conference abstract, London Evolutionary Research Network Annual Meeting 2005, London.
  6. Miller, C.E., Benton, M.J. & Hone, D.W.E. (2005) Claw mechanics – Arboreality versus Cursoriality. Conference abstract, University of Bristol Biomechanics Symposium, Bristol.

Dr Julia Molnar

     Julia is a post-doctoral fellow at Howard University working on a project on early tetrapod limb anatomy and locomotion. Her PhD project, supervised by John Hutchinson, Stephanie Pierce, Jenny Clack, and Renate Weller, focused on the biomechanics of evolutionary transitions between water and land. Specifically, she studied the role of the vertebral column in locomotion in two groups: stem tetrapods and basal crocodylomorphs. Her main research interest is the evolution of vertebrate locomotion.



Dr Emil Olsen

Emil Olsen

Emil has moved to the USA to undertake a Residency in Large Animal Medicine at Cornell University Hospital for Animals. He successfully completed his PhD at the RVC in 2013. 


Emil qualified as a DVM and from University of Copenhagen, Faculty of LIFE sciences in 2005. His masters thesis looked at the experimental induction of septic arthritis in horses. He then went on to equine clinical practice for three years and developed a special interest in equine internal medicine and evidenced based medicine.

Emil undertook a joint PhD with the RVC and the University of Copenhagen in October 2009. His research examined subjective and objective assessment of equine ataxia and he was supervised by Dr Thilo PfauDr Renate WellerProfessor Richard Piercy, Dr Rikke Buhl and Professor. Pia H Andersen.Emil was also a part time Research Assistant for Justin Perkins from 2012 in data processing and data collection on the 'Equine Recurrent Laryngeal Neuropathy' project.


Emil had the great opportunity to pursue these interests in a joint project between the RVC Structure & Motion Lab and Large Animal Sciences at University of Copenhagen, Faculty of LIFE sciences.

His PhD project is funded through University of Copenhagen and is entitled "Diagnosing Equine Cervical Vertebral Stenosis/Myelopathy". His work is supervised by Dr.Ing Thilo Pfau (RVC), Dr Renate Weller (RVC), Dr. Richard Piercy (RVC) and Professor Pia Haubro Andersen (University of Copenhagen). The project will combine kinetics, kinematics, electromyography and diagnostic imaging to improve the diagnosis of equine cervical vertebral stenosis/myelopathy.


Fall and winter 2009: Teaching Danish veterinary students 'the clinical examination' of horses, cows, pigs and sheep.

2010 and 2011: Project supervision of BSc students and BVetMed students as well as master thesis co-supervisor on 2 Danish DVM master thesis projects.

Selected Publications

Boye J.K, Olsen E, Pfau T, Halling-Thomsen M. A comparison of accuracy and precision of 5 gait-event detection algorithms from motion capture in horses during over ground trot. ICEL (International Conference on canine and equine locomotion) 2012. Abstract and extended abstract. Accepted.

Olsen E, Boye J.K, Pfau T, Halling-Thomsen M. A comparison of accuracy and precision of 5 gait-event detection algorithms from motion capture in horses during over ground walk. ICEL (International Conference on canine and equine locomotion) 2012. Abstract and extended abstract. Accepted.

Olsen E, Pfau T. Accuracy and precision of spatiotemporal characteristics from fetlock mounted inertial measurement units compared to motion capture in horses during over ground walk. ICEL (International Conference on canine and equine locomotion) 2012. Abstract and extended abstract. Submitted.

Olsen E, Andersen PH, Pfau T: Accuracy and precision of equine gait event detection during walk with limb and trunk mounted inertial sensors. Sensors 2012, 12(6), 8145-8156; doi:10.3390/s120608145

Olsen E, Newton L.A., Piercy R.J, Pfau, T.: Can relative coupling intervals be used to detect ataxia? Abstract, BEVA Congress 2011. Accepted for oral presentation.

Olsen E, Pfau, T.: Accuracy of equine gait event detection with leg-mounted inertial sensors. ICAMPAM (International Conference on Ambulatory Monitoring of Physical Activity and Movement), abstract, 2011, Poster accepted.

Olsen E, Kronborg C, Buhl R, Andersen PH: How to obtain indirect blood pressure in the standing horse. Abstract, ACVIM forum 2011. Accepted for poster.

Olsen E, Piercy R.J, Andersen P.H, Pfau, T.: What is the effect of head elevation and blindfolding on the gait of non-neurologic horses. Abstract, ACVIM forum 2011. Accepted for oral presentation.

Olsen E, Pfau, T.: The use of relative coupling Intervals in horses during walk. Proceedings paper, ISB2011 Congress (International Society of Biomechanics). Accepted for oral presentation.

Olsen E, De Linde Henriksen M. Andersen P.H. (2009) Eosinophilic Keratitis in a Danish horse, clinical symptoms, prognosis and treatment – a case report [Danish]. Dansk Veterinærtidsskrift

Jacobsen S, Niewold TA, Halling-Thomsen M, Nanni S, Olsen E, Lindegaard C, Andersen P.H. (2006), Vet Immunol Immunopathol. Serum amyloid A isoforms in serum and synovial fluid in horses with lipopolysaccharide-induced arthritis.

Outreach Activities

Olsen E , Thomsen MH , Nissen AG , Andersen PH . My horse ain’t moving right (Min hest bevæger sig ikke som den plejer). Ridehesten. 2011;(9):60-65. [Danish, magazine for horse owners].

Olsen E , Andersen PH. PhD project: Diagnosing horses with wobblers. Phd projekt: Diagnostik af heste med CVSM (Wobbler). I: Proceedings SvH. 1 udg. 2010. s. 1-2. [Danish, CPD for equine veterinarians]

Olsen E. Den slingre hest (The wobbly horse). 2010. Talk given at the yearly horse owner and breeder congress in Fredericia, Denmark.

Brixen J , Olsen E. Sommereksem kan ramme alle (Equine insect bite hypersensitivity) Hest . 2009;(6):50-53. [Danish, horse owner magazine].

Olsen E. Glukokortikoider i hestepraksis (Use of glukocorticoids in equine practice). Dyrlaegemagasinet for Praktiserende Dyrlaeger . 2009;6(3):28-30. [Danish, magazine for veterinarians in practice].

Olsen E. Hestens sommereksem; fup eller fakta (equine insect bite hypersensitivity; . Ridehesten. 2005;(7):64-66. [Danish, magazine for horse owners].

Dr Chris Pardoe

Chris Pardoe working as a blacksmith


Chris Pardoe (BSc., AWCF., RSS.) is a working farrier and blacksmith, an Associate of the Worshipful Company of Farriers, and graduated with a BSc hons in Life Sciences from the Open University. He was a successful competitor in farriery competitions and has shod horses in many countries. He is currently undertaking a part time PhD in the mechanics of the equine hoof wall and its interactions with the ground.

Email: cpardoe@rvc.ac.uk


  1. MCGUIGAN, M. P., WALSH, T. C., PARDOE, C. H., DAY, P. S. & WILSON, A. M. (2005) Deep digital flexor tendon force and digital mechanics in normal ponies and ponies with rotation of the distal phalanx as a sequel to laminitis. Equine Vet J 37, 161-165. PubMed ID 15779630
  2. SMITH, R. K., MCGUIGAN, M. P., HYDE, J. T., DALY, A. S., PARDOE, C. H., LOCK, A. N. & WILSON, A. M. (2002) In vitro evaluation of nonrigid support systems for the equine metacarpophalangeal joint. Equine Vet J 34, 726-731. PubMed ID 12455845
  3. WILSON, A. M. & PARDOE, C. H. (2001) Modification of a force plate system for equine gait analysis on hard road surfaces: a technical note. Equine Vet J Suppl, 67-69. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&dopt=Citation&list_uids=11721573
  4. PARDOE, C. H., MCGUIGAN, M. P., ROGERS, K. M., ROWE, L. L. & WILSON, A. M. (2001) The effect of shoe material on the kinetics and kinematics of foot slip at impact on concrete. Equine Vet J Suppl, 70-73. PubMed ID 11721574
  5. SCHUMACHER, J., WILSON, A. M., PARDOE, C. & EASTER, J. L. (2000) In vitro evaluation of a novel prosthesis for laryngoplasty of horses with recurrent laryngeal neuropathy. Equine Vet J 32, 43-46. PubMed ID 10661384
  6. PARDOE, C. H. & WILSON, A. M. (1999) In vitro mechanical properties of different equine hoof wall crack fixation techniques. Equine Vet J 31, 506-509. PubMed ID 10596933

Book Chapters

  1. PARDOE C. (2002) Chapter 13: "Geographical influences upon shoeing; Shoeing horses in Northern Europe." Ch.16: "Shoeing for grip" in Corrective Farriery - a text book of remedial horseshoeing' Vol.1; Ed S. Curtis.Pub: Newmarket Farriery Consultancy

Dr Becky Parkes


Becky graduated from the RVC in 2006 with a BSc (Hons) in Veterinary Sciences. During this course, she developed an interest in research and undertook several interesting projects. These included her final year research project investigating the limitations of human detection of asymmetry in lame horses with Dr. Renate Weller and Dr. Thilo Pfau, and a summer studentship developing a cat abominal palpation simulator with Prof. Sarah Baillie. Becky then went on to train as a vet and graduated from the RVC in 2010 with a BVetMed degree. During this time she developed an interest in equine orthopaedics and undertook a research project investigating the effect of weather conditions on white line disease in the donkey.

Following graduation, Becky spent a year as an intern at the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket, working for Dr Sue Dyson. She spent her time learning more about equine lameness diagnosis and diagnostic imaging and conducting a study into the risk factors and clinical features of palmar foot pain in the horse. After this, she spent six months doing something completely different- volunteering as a vet at Animal Care Egypt.

Inspired by spending time in the gallops at Newmarket, Becky returned to the Structure and Motion Lab in April 2012 to complete a PhD in racehorse biomechanics under the supervision of Dr Thomas Witte.


PhD project title: "Intrinsic and extrinsic factors affecting the loading environment of the equine distal limb".

This project used non-invasive techniques to investigate the effect of training and running under different conditions- such as on a curve, on different surfaces and on an incline - on stride parameters in young racehorses. The aim being to gain an insight into the adaptations of gait and feed this into research on injury prevention.

Selected Publications

Rebecca Parkes, J. Richard Newton, Sue J. Dyson, An investigation of risk factors for foot-related lameness in a United Kingdom referral population of horses. Vet. J. (2012) In press

Parkes, R.S.V., Weller, R., Groth, A., May, S. and Pfau, T. Evidence of ‘domain- restricted’ expertise in the recognition of asymmetric motion characteristics of hindlimb lameness in the horse. Equine vet. J. (2009) 41, 112-117

Parkes R, Forrest N, Baillie S. A mixed reality simulator for feline abdominal palpation training in veterinary medicine. Stud Health Technol Inform. 2009;142:244-6.

Conference Presentations and Posters

'The Role of Weather Conditions in the Occurrence of White Line Abscessation in Donkeys in the UK', Association of Veterinary Teaching and Research Work Annual Conference 2010 and BEVA Annual Congress 2010

‘Development of a feline abdominal palpation simulator for training veterinary students’ Association of Veterinary Teaching and Research Work Annual Conference 2008

‘What are the limits of human detection of motion of equine tuber coxae?’ British Equine Veterinary Association Annual Congress 2007

Parkes R., Forrest N., and Baillie S., 'A Mixed Reality Simulator for Feline Abdominal Training in Veterinary Medicine', Medicine Meets Virtual Reality Conference, California, January 2009. 

Dr Kevin Parsons

Kevin on top of the world

Kevin is currently a Senior Lecturer in Locomotor Biomechanics at the University of Bristol www.bris.ac.uk/vetscience/people/kevin-j-parsons/index.html.


Kevin graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree from the University of Bristol in 2000. He then worked in small animal and mixed veterinary practice before undertaking an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at The Royal Veterinary College.

Subsequently, Kevin undertook a PhD in the Structure & Motion Laboratory, supervised by Professor Alan Wilson, where he studied the mechanics of high speed terrestrial locomotion in cursorial animals. The primary focus of the PhD was on the development of novel methods of assessing locomotion and the utilisation of these methods in increasing understanding of how animals locomote efficiently on different surfaces and terrains.

Kevin completed the PhD in 2007 and then attained the position of Senior Clinical Training Scholar in small animal surgery.

His scientific interests include innovative measurement techniques for studying animals during field locomotion and the application of these methods within a clinical environment. He also enjoys comparative aspects of locomotor biomechanics and has worked with a range of animals including dogs, horses, cows and camels.

e-mail: kevin.parsons@bristol.ac.uk


  1. Parsons, K.J., Pfau, T.P., Wilson, A.M. High-speed gallop locomotion in the Thoroughbred racehorse. I. The effect of incline on stride parameters. J Exp Biol (2008), 211 935-944.
  2. Parsons, K.J., Pfau, T.P., Ferrari, M., Wilson, A.M. High-speed gallop locomotion in the Thoroughbred racehorse. II. The effect of incline on centre of mass movement and mechanical energy fluctuation. J Exp Biol (2008), 211 945-956
  3. Pfau, T.P., Ferrari, M., Parsons, K.J., Wilson, A.M. Hidden Markov model-based stride segmentation applied to equine inertial sensor trunk movement data during high speed exercise. Journal of Biomechanics (2008) 41(1) pp 216-20.
  4. Parsons, K.J. and Wilson, A.M. The use of MP3 recorders to log data from equine hoof mounted accelerometers. Equine Veterinary Journal (2006), Vol. 38, Number 7, pp. 675-680.
  5. Parsons, K.J., Beck, A.L. What is your diagnosis? Journal of Small Animal Practice (2006), Vol. 47 (6), pp, 349.

Professional Presentations/Research Abstracts

  1. Spence, A*., Parsons, K.J., Pfau, T.P., Ferrari, M., Wilson, A.M. (2007) Effect of substrate properties on equine locomotion. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 146A, Number 4. Suppl. A6.8. Society for Experimental Biology annual main meeting, Glasgow, Scotland.
  2. Kevin Parsons*, Thilo Pfau and Alan M. Wilson (2006) Stance time and duty factor during pacing in the Dromedary camel (Camelus dromedaries). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 143A, Number 4.Suppl. A7.5. Society for Experimental Biology annual main meeting, Canterbury.
  3. Parsons, K.J.*, Owen, L.J., and Gregory, S.P. (2006) A retrospective study of septic peritonitis in cats surgically treated at the Royal Veterinary College, London: 19 cases (2000-2005). BSAVA scientific proceedings (2006).
  4. Owen, L.J.*, Parsons, K.J., and Gregory, S.P. (2006) A retrospective study of the aetiology and survival rate of dogs with septic peritonitis, treated at the Royal Veterinary College, London over a five year period (2000-2005): 44 cases. BSAVA scientific proceedings (2006).
  5. Thilo Pfau*, Kevin Parsons, Alan Wilson (2006) Mechanics of over-ground locomotion in the dromedary camel (Camelus dromedarius). World Congress for Biomechanics, Munich, Germany.
  6. Lei Ren*, Thilo Pfau, Kevin Parsons, Alan Wilson, John R. Hutchinson (2006) Prediction of Ground Reaction Forces During Quadrupedal Animal Locomotion Using Accelerometers and Gyroscopes. World Congress for Biomechanics, Munich, Germany.
  7. Parsons, K.J.*, McGoldrick, N.M., Wilson, A.M. (2005) Effect of surface on mechanics of horse locomotion. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 141A, Number 3/Suppl. A7.55. Society for Experimental Biology annual main meeting, Barcelona, Spain.

Dr Jon Rees

Jon Rees windsurfing


Jon studied medicine at the London Hospital Medical College graduating in 1995. In 2004 he completed his training as a Specialist Registrar in Rheumatology and General Medicine. He is working on his MD thesis on anatomy, physiology and pathology of the human Achilles tendon.

Jon also works as a Rheumatologist at the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DMRC) Headley Court and as a sports physician to Millwall FC.

E-mail: j.rees@doctors.org.uk

Dr Sophie Regnault


Sophie graduated as a veterinary surgeon from the Royal Veterinary College in 2012. During her final year, she collaborated with the Structure and Motion Lab to produce a small research project on osteopathology found in the feet of rhinoceroses. Following graduation, Sophie spent some time in pract ice, working at several PDSA hospitals in London. She also spent this time expanding her undergraduate research project into a published paper. In July 2013, Sophie returned to the RVC to start her PhD, entitled "Comparative Mechanobiology and Evolution of Patellar Sesamoids".


Sophie did her PhD with John Hutchinson, studying the evolution and mechanobiology of patellar sesamoids (kneecaps) in different species.

Selected Publications

Regnault S., Allen V.R., Chadwick K.P., Hutchinson J.R. Analysis of the moment arms and kinematics of ostrich (Struthio camelus) double patellar sesamoids. Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological and Integrative Physiology 327 (4), 163-171, 2017.

Jiang B., Zhao T., Regnault S., Edwards N.P., Kohn S.C., Li Z., Wogelius R.A., et al. Cellular preservation of musculoskeletal specializations in the Cretaceous bird Confuciusornis. Nature Communications 8, 14779 2, 2017.

Samuels M.E., Regnault S., Hutchinson J.R. Evolution of the patellar sesamoid bone in mammals. PeerJ 5, e3103 11, 2017.

Regnault S., Dixon J.J.I., Warren-Smith C., Hutchinson J.R., Weller R. Skeletal pathology and variable anatomy in elephant feet assessed using computed tomography. PeerJ 5, e2877 2, 2017.

Regnault S., Hutchinson J.R., Jones M.E.H. Sesamoid bones in tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus) investigated with X‐ray microtomography, and implications for sesamoid evolution in Lepidosauria. Journal of morphology 278 (1), 62-72 4, 2017.

Regnault S., Jones M.E.H., Pitsillides A.A., Hutchinson J.R. Anatomy, morphology and evolution of the patella in squamate lizards and tuatara (Sphenodon punctatus). Journal of anatomy 228 (5), 864-876 9, 2016.

Chadwick K.P., Regnault S., Allen V., Hutchinson J.R. Three-dimensional anatomy of the ostrich (Struthio camelus) knee joint. PeerJ 2, e706 12, 2014.

Regnault S., Pitsillides A.A., Hutchinson J.R. Structure, ontogeny and evolution of the patellar tendon in emus (Dromaius novaehollandiae) and other palaeognath birds. PeerJ 2, e711 14, 2014.

Regnault S., Hermes R., Hildebrandt T., Hutchinson J.R., Weller R. Osteopathology in the feet of rhinoceroses: lesion type and distribution. Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 44 (4), 918-927, 2013.

Dr Pattama Ritruechai



Pattama is a qualified veterinarian (D.V.M.) and worked in equine practice for 9 years in Thailand. After finishing her master science degree (M.S.) in Theriogenology, she began lecturing at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Mahidol University. Pattama also worked for Thailand Equestrian Federation as a Team veterinarian, wanting to learn more about the structure and motion of horses. The Royal Thai Government sponsored Pattama to study a PhD at The Royal Veterinary College during 2005-2008. This focused on the biomechanics of equine backs, supervised by Dr. James Wakeling.

On completion of her PhD, she returned to Thailand and is working as a lecturer at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Mahidol University. Her current project explores blood parameters and muscle stiffness on thoroughbreds during incremental treadmill exercise tests. Pattama is also working at the Equine Clinic.

Email: Oi.ritruechai@gmail.com or vspattama@mahidol.ac.th


  1. Cottriall, S., Ritruechai, P. and Wakeling, J.M. (2009) The effect of training aids on the longissimus dorsi in the equine back. Equine Comp. Exerc. Physiol. 5(3-4): 111-114.
  2. Ritruechai, P., Weller, R. and Wakeling, J.M. (2008) Regionalisation of the muscle fascicle architecture in the equine longissimus dorsi muscle. Equine Vet. J. 40: 246-251.
  3. Sneddon, J.C., Ritruechai, P., de Yanés, G.S., Howard, C.V. (2008) Seasonal influences on quantitative changes in sweat-associated anatomy in native and thoroughbred horses. Vet. Dermatol. 19(3): 163-73.
  4. Wakeling, J.M., Ritruechai, P., Dalton, S. and Nankervis, K. (2007) Segmental variation in the activity and function of the equine longissimus dorsi muscle during walk and trot. Equine Comp. Exerc. Physiol. 4: 95-103. 

Dr Justine Robilliard

A horse & rider jumping a cross country jump


Whilst studying for her BSc (Hons) in Equine Science at Bristol University, Justine developed an interest in biomechanics whilst completing her research dissertation investigating the function of the equine digital cushion.

Justine joined the SML team in the autumn of 2002, to study the efficiency of locomotion as a BBSRC funded PhD, and graduated in 2006. 


  1. Robilliard JJ, Pfau T, Wilson AM. Gait characterisation and classification in horses. J Exp Biol 2007; 210: 187-197.
  2. Robilliard JJ, Wilson AM. Prediction of kinetics and kinematics of running animals using an analytical approximation to the planar spring-mass system. J Exp Biol; 208: 4377-4389. pdf
  3. Payne RC, Hutchinson JR, Robilliard JJ, Smith NC, Wilson AM. Functional specialisation of pelvic limb anatomy in horses (Equus caballus). J Anat; 206: 557-574. pdf

Dr Nicola Swann (Smith)

Nikki and her ostrich, Satan

Nicola is now working as a Senior Lecturer in Sports and Exercise Biomechanics at Kingston University London. 


Nicky completed her first degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2000, and then went on to do a Masters degree in Biomedical Engineering, which was sponsored by the National Health Service. She then trained as a Clinical Engineer with the NHS, where she developed a keen interest in biomechanics, which she applied in the fields of prosthetics, orthotics, gait analysis and postural management in the Rehabilitation Centre at Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton, London.

Nicky decided to do a PhD in biomechanics, and looked to bring together her interests in animal locomotion, from an equine background, and mechanics. With her particular interest in how growth affects gait parameters and maximum running speed. Nicky started her PhD titled 'The Effect of Growth on the Mechanics of Locomotion of the Ostrich' in October 2003 and graduated from the RVC in 2007.

Email: nicola.swann@kingston.ac.uk


  1. Smith NC, Payne RC, Jespers KJ, Wilson AM. Muscle moment arms of pelvic limb muscles of the ostrich (struthio camelus). J. Anat. 211: 313-24.
  2. Smith NC, Wilson AM, Jespers KJ, Payne RC. Muscle architecture and functional anatomy of the pelvic limb of the ostrich (Struthio camelus). J Anat; 209: 765-779. pdf
  3. Payne RC, Hutchinson JR, Robilliard JJ, Smith NC, Wilson AM. Functional specialisation of pelvic limb anatomy in horses (Equus caballus). J Anat; 206: 557-574. pdf

Dr Sandra Starke

Dr Starke is a current Research Fellow in Visual Analytics and Decision Making at the University of Birmingham.


During her time with the RVC Dr Starke was project leader on a 6-month e-learning project in which she developed a 3D animation-based intelligent lameness teaching computer application, bringing together her expertise in locomotor biomechanics, 3D animation, computing and visual perception. Prior to this Dr Starke completed a PhD at the college in equine lameness detection.

Dr Marinos Stavrou

Marinos Stavrou

Marinos works as a Researcher/Expert on Fauna for the Nature Conservation Unit at Frederick University. 


Marinos graduated with a BSc in Environmental Biology at the University of Nottingham in 2008. His final year dissertation focused on vulture conservation ecology which included research into the way these large birds fly. This led to an interest in discovering more about bird flight in general; especially gliding and powered flight. Marinos successfully defended his PhD at his viva in January 2013 after completing his study within the Structure & Motion Laboratory, supervised by Jim Usherwood. His research focused on the aerodynamics of birds.

Email: marinos.stavrou at googlemail.com


Marinos's PhD project is supervised by Dr. Jim Usherwood. It focuses on the aerodynamics of the bird and how the structure of the bird body (especially flight muscles and bones) assists in flight. He hopes to include these aspects of biomechanics in an environmental context which could help explain bird behaviour and ecology in more detail.

Selected Publications 

Usherwood, J.R., Stavrou, M., Lowe, J.C., Roskilly, K. and Wilson, A.M. (2011). Flying in a flock comes at a cost in pigeons. Nature 474, 494-497. doi:10.1038/nature10164. Not open access: see Link

Dr Judith Visser

Judith in the snow

Judith is now a Lecturer in Human Kinetic Technology and Industrial Product Design for the De Haagse Hogeschool.


Judith graduated in 2004 from the University of Twente, The Netherlands, with an MSc in Mechanical Engineering with a specialisation in biomechanics. She developed her interest in biomechanical research during her internship at the M.E.Müller Institute for Biomechanics in Bern, Switzerland, and her master thesis work on spinal force estimation from non-normalised EMG at Roessingh Research & Development, Enschede, The Netherlands.

Judith joined the Structure & Motion Laboratory in January 2006 for a PhD on engergetics and dynamics of bilateral prosthetic gait, supervised by Rachel Payne.

After completing her PhD, Judith returned to Holland and to work in the Department of Biomechanical Engineering at the Delft University of Technology. Her research centred on the development of a biomechanical model of the human hand.

e-mail: j.m.a.visser@tudelft.nl

Dr Sharon Warner

Sharon Warner

Sharon successfully defended her PhD in 2014.


Sharon graduated from Sparsholt College in 2004 with a BSc (Hons) degree in Equine Studies. Following this she spent a year conducting nutrition and exercise physiology research assisting Dr Joe Pagan at Kentucky Equine Research in the US. She was subsequently employed as a Technician in the Structure and Motion Lab until she started her PhD in October 2009. This project was 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.  See more.

Email: sharon8348@hotmail.co.uk


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.

Selected Publications

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.

Dr Jo Watson

Jo Watson

Jo Graduated from the RVC in the fall of 2004


Jo graduated in zoology from Royal Holloway, University of London and started a PhD in June 2001.

She has studied energy-saving mechanisms in cursorial locomotion; in particular the musculo-skeletal adaptations of the equine limb.

Her PhD focused on elastic mechanisms and the role of the biceps muscle in limb protraction in horses.

Dr Alison Wills

Alison Wills

Alison completed her PhD with the RVC in 2014. She has since commenced working within the Animal and Land Sciences Research Team at Hartpury College.


Alison graduated from the Royal Veterinary College with a BSc in Veterinary Sciences in 2009. She subsequently undertook a BBSRC funded PhD position with the Structure & Motion Laboratory examining the locomotion of free ranging sports dogs and other animals that form social groups.

Email: Alison.Wills at hartpury.ac.uk


Alison is interested in understanding how packs interact and co-operate for mutual benefit. Examples of this are sports dogs which hunt as a group, e.g. fox hounds, beagles and Painted/African hunting dogs which are reported to need a minimum pack size of 6 to successfully catch their prey and prey animals like sheep which have a complex social hierarchy [1].

Sheep are similar to dogs as they exhibit flocking behaviour in the same way that dogs form packs. It has been repeatedly proven that sheep are much more intelligent than was previously believed. They can discriminate between sheep, humans and other animals and can also recall the faces of 50 other sheep for a period of over two years [2]. Sheep are also able to self-medicate, which means that on ingestion of a foodstuff that causes them discomfort (for example indigestion) sheep will then select the correct food from a variety offered to cure their complaint [3].

[1] Courchamp, F. and Macdonald, D. W. 2001 Crucial importance of pack size in the African wild dog Lycaon pictus. Animal Conservation 4 169-174. [2] Kendrick, K. M et al. 2001. Sheep don’t forget a face. Nature 141, 165. [3] Villalba, J. J et al. 2006. Sheep self-medicate when challenged with illness inducing foods. Animal Behaviour 71 1131-1139. 

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