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Neuromuscular control and animal swimming

Trainee Achievements

Neuromuscular control and animal swimming

Trainee Chris Richards recently defended his dissertation "Muscle mechanics and hydrodynamics of swimming anurans". Chris explored the poorly understood relationship between neuromuscular control and the dynamics of animal swimming. He developed a unique transducer for measuring muscle force in a swimming frog that, coupled with hydrodynamic modeling, enabled a novel analysis of muscle function (internal body dynamics) in the context of hydrodynamic forces on the legs (external body dynamics). He has been awarded a Rowland Institute Junior Fellow, which will allow him to continue this work using traditional muscle physiology along with bio-robotics approaches to build an empirical framework for relating principles of limb design to the limitations imposed by motors. This work will inform our understanding of the diversity of muscle-powered propulsion as well as illuminate underlying engineering principles that could improve how motors transmit forces to the water.