I am interested in understanding the optimisations and compromises in animal locomotion from a mechanical perspective. Animals have evolved neither wheels nor propellers, and yet many are proficient at terrestrial, arboreal and aerial locomotion. Should the biological solutions to mechanical challenges – specifically propulsion and weight support – be considered superior, equivalent but alternative, or inferior to the conventional engineered options? I investigate these questions with innovative experimental techniques and with novel applications of traditional engineering analyses. 

I am part of the Structure and Motion Lab at The Royal Veterinary College, and am mainly funded by The Wellcome Trust, with further projects supported by BBSRC and EPSRC.

I am coming to the end of a 5-year Senior Research Fellowship from The Wellcome Trust investigating ‘the fundamental strategies and constraints of powering locomotion with muscle using limbs that also provide weight support, making use of the altered effective gravity experienced by circle-flying pigeons and terrestrial animals in a centrifuge.’

Current research





        High heels and ostriches
        'Bob' - a passive-dynamic gait assisting device


        Limits to acceleration

Other research highlights

My RVC page includes a formatted publication list, though Google Scholar profile HERE might be more convenient. If you are interested in collaborating, joining my research group, or would just like to find out more, email me:
jusherwood 'AT' rvc.ac.uk

Walking in high heels, and by ostriches, produces forces remarkably similar to normal human walking, maintaining the economical ‘crash-vault-shove’ strategy predicted from point mass models. Image by Jim Usherwood, copyright Structure and Motion Lab., RVC, with thanks to Monica Daley and Yvonne Blum.