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Non-linear Dynamics of Human Locomotion

Project Description

The University of Exeter EPSRC DTP (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership) is offering up to 4 fully funded doctoral studentships for 2019/20 entry. Students will be given sector-leading training and development with outstanding facilities and resources. Studentships will be awarded to outstanding applicants, the distribution will be overseen by the University’s EPSRC Strategy Group in partnership with the Doctoral College.


Dr Genevieve Williams, Department of Sports and Health Science, College of Life and Environmental Sciences
Professor Krasimira Tsaneva-Atanasova, Department of Mathematics, College of Engineering. Mathematics and Physical Sciences

Project description:
Walking and running involve a number of complex systems working together, including the brain, spinal chord, sensory organs and muscles. Yet somehow we create an elegant and simple solution. In human movement science, understanding this solution is key to understand motor control and the influence of learning and diseases on our basic abilities.

Our understanding of human locomotion has been predominantly developed through biomechanical analyses using linear mathematics. While these methods facilitate an understanding of the mechanical characteristics and constraints that are produced and satisfied during locomotion, they do not describe the nonlinear characteristics of the biological system. Both experimental and robotics fields have identified that an epistemological shift towards understanding the dynamics of a system within constraints, where redundancy and variability of the system are used to satisfy collective dynamics is mathematically, theoretically and practically more fruitful. Therefore, the aim of this project is to characterize locomotion from a dynamical systems perspective. Movement and force data will be collected during human locomotion in different situations and analyzed in terms of pattern stability, transitions between states, and deterministic and stochastic processes at different spatio-temporal scales.

A suitable candidate for this project would have a background in mathematics, physics, biomedical engineering or human movement science and be passionate about applied mathematics.

Funding Notes

For successful eligible applicants the studentship comprises:

- An index-linked stipend for up to 3.5 years full time (currently £14,777 per annum for 2018/19), pro-rata for part-time students.
- Payment of University tuition fees (UK/EU)
- Research Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £5,000 over 3.5 years, or pro-rata for part-time students

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