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PhD studentship in animal locomotion at RVC near London

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  • PhD studentship in animal locomotion at RVC near London

    Biomechanical factors limiting athletic performance in racehorses

    Supervisors: Prof Alan Wilson (awilson @, Dr Andrew Spence (aspence @ and Dr Andy Thurman


    Department: Veterinary Basic Sciences

    Studies on factors limiting maximum performance in athletic activities are limited and horseracing

    presents an excellent system for such studies as horses are relatively similar and anatomically simple

    and they race on different surfaces, over different distances, slopes and over jumps. This studentship

    is a BBSRC industrial CASE award sponsored by Turftrax Group Ltd ( who deploy a

    system for recording speed and position data from horses during racing and a system for measuring

    the properties of horse racing surfaces. They recorded data from 30,193 horse starts in 2006 so there

    is substantial statistical power and population level statistics are feasible. We have validated the accuracy

    of the Turftrax system (In Review) and it performs considerably better than standard GPS. In this project the

    student will use electronics to augment the performance of the tag system, incorporating sensors such

    as accelerometers, and utilise high speed video to record data from horses during racing, in addition

    to a variety of analytical methods such as statistical pattern recognition and population level statistics.

    The project will provide a training in these techniques and the student should have relevant skills and

    aptitudes in mathematics or engineering methods and a first degree in maths, engineering, zoology,

    veterinary medicine or similar.

    This studentship is funded for up to four years and is an industrial CASE award (and hence is funded at

    above the usual UK studentship rates). Students must qualify as UK home students (ie have spent the last

    three years in the UK to be eligible for the award).

    As part of the CASE award the successful candidate will gain exposure to the racing industry

    environments in which the speed and positioning system is deployed to practical effect to generate

    commercial returns.

    The Structure and Motion lab ( is a vibrant and active group of about 30

    researchers based in a rural location with good rail links to central London. The lab has outstanding

    facilities for biomechanics research on a wide range of animals and good technical support in

    electronics design and the measurement methods we use.

    For informal enquires contact Alan Wilson 01707 666259 awilson @

    Applications forms at

    Closing date 18th April

    Background References

    Usherwood JR, Wilson AM. (2006) Accounting for elite indoor 200 m sprint results. Biology

    Letters; 2: 47‑50.

    Usherwood JR, Wilson AM. (2005) Biomechanics: no force limit on greyhound sprint speed.

    Nature; 438: 753‑754.

    Pfau T, Witte TH, Wilson AM. (2005) A method for deriving displacement data during cyclical

    movement using an inertial sensor. Journal of Experimental Biology; 208: 2503‑2514.

    Alan M. Wilson BSc BVMS PhD MRCVS
    Structure and Motion Lab
    The Royal Veterinary College
    Hawkshead Lane
    AL9 7TA
    tel +44 01707 666259
    fax +44 01707 666371
    Mobile +44 07 90305070 3