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RA and PhD Positions for studies on human postural mechanismsusing engineering control methods

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  • RA and PhD Positions for studies on human postural mechanismsusing engineering control methods

    Three positions (1 Research assistant at Manchester Metropolitan University and 2 PhD scholarships at University of Birmingham and
    University of Glasgow) are available for the project "Intermittent predictive control of man and machine".

    The aim of this interdisciplinary, EPSRC funded, project which combines physiological experimentation and analysis with
    engineering control methods, is to develop intermittent predictive control theory as a new paradigm for engineering and
    physiological control. Human postural mechanisms can be explained by a continuous `PID' type of controller or as an intermittent
    control process. If the intermittent predictive control paradigm is applicable, then natural postural balance is correctly
    reinterpreted as centrally modulated, voluntary control like any other form of movement. Clarification of this issue will have
    important implications for diverse healthcare topics including the rehabilitation of stroke or spinally injured patients who are
    no longer able to stand and the diagnosis of risk factors in elderly patients with a history of falling. This project aims to
    incorporate biological insights into the design of engineering controllers that mimic the real-time flexibility of the human
    nervous system.

    Research Assistantship (3 years) at the Institute for Biophysical and Clinical Research into Human Movement, Manchester
    Metropolitan University (Dr. Ian Loram, This post will focus on visual and proprioceptively guided
    mechanisms by which humans control unstable loads, including their own body with the aim to provide physiological evidence
    discriminating intermittent open-loop from continuous feedback mechanisms in human balance. The successful candidate should have a
    Ph.D. in integrative physiology, movement science, motor control, human balance or a related discipline with a sound background in
    experimental techniques, data collection and analysis.

    PhD scholarship (3 years) at the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Birmingham (Dr. Martin Lakie, This part of the project aims to provide physiological evidence of intermittent open loop control
    of posture in general by studying the peripheral reflex mechanisms stimulated by rotation of the ankle joint and the
    generalisation of intermittent control to stable loads. The successful candidate should have a 1st or upper 2nd class degree (or
    equivalent) in physiology, neuroscience or a related discipline with experience in experimental physiology, data collection and

    PhD scholarship (3 years) at the Centre for Systems and Control (Prof. Peter Gawthrop) and the Centre for Rehabilitation
    Engineering (Dr. Henrik Gollee, Prof. Ken Hunt, at the University of Glasgow: This part of the project
    will focus on the theoretical response of the intermittent predictive controller. The practical procedures and theoretical basis
    of a system identification methodology to distinguish intermittent open loop from continuous feedback control, will be developed
    in simulation and experimental work involving computer control of an inverted pendulum. The results of this theoretical work will
    form the basis for the development of the system models used for interpreting experimental results obtained with human subjects at
    the partner institutions. The work will also inform the design of artificial feedback systems for control of balance in
    paraplegia. The successful candidate should have a degree in control engineering (1st or upper 2nd class, or equivalent) or a
    related discipline.

    The successful applicants will work primarily at their home institution but are expected to collaborate closely together with the
    partners from the other institutions. Since the project depends on flexible development of analysis using MATLAB, an essential
    requirement for all successful applicants is an aptitude for, and interest in computer programming, as well as a sustained
    interest in human motor control.

    The project is funded by the EPSRC. The salary range for the research assistant is £29,865- £35,663 pa, while scholarships include
    fees (at the home rate) and a maintenance allowance (currently £12,600pa, tax free). The posts are available from 15/1/2009.
    Requests for further information and applications (including a full C.V.) should be addressed to

    Dr. Ian Loram (,
    Dr. Martin Lakie ( or
    Dr. Henrik Gollee (

    V. Baltzopoulos, PhD
    Professor of Musculoskeletal Biomechanics
    Institute for Biomedical Research into Human Movement and Health (IRM)
    Faculty of Science and Engineering
    The Manchester Metropolitan University
    E309 John Dalton Building
    Chester Street
    Manchester M1 5GD, UK

    Tel: (+44)(0) 161 2475491
    Fax: (+44)(0) 161 2476375

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