Dr.   Henry     Astley

Dr. Henry Astley

Assistant Professor
Departments of Polymer Science and Biology
Phone: 330-972-8192
Email: hastley@uakron.edu


Biography

My research focuses on the biomechanics of animal locomotion, at the intersection between biology and physics. In order to move through their environment, animals must use physiological processes to generate force, transmit this force via the musculoskeletal system and morphology, and control it via the nervous system, all while navigating through sometimes mechanically complex and heterogeneous environments. I use a variety of systems to study these principles, including snakes, frogs, and early tetrapods. Snakes are capable to traversing a tremendous range of environments with a greatly simplified body plan, dramatically changing their interactions with the environment using different control strategies and gaits, such as sidewinding, lateral undulations and concertina locomotion. Frogs use elastic tendons in a catapult mechanisms, allowing them to generate jump power outputs far beyond the limits of muscle power, showing the potential for musculo-skeletal morphology to dramatically alter function. And early tetrapods moved through a novel and challenging mechanical environment with primitive limbs and limited control, posing an intriguing biomechanical puzzle. I study these and other systems using a variety of techniques on the biological systems (e.g. motion capture, high-speed video, inverse dynamics, in vitro muscle testing), along with construction of biomimetic robots and robophysical models, which allow us to command different control schemes and experimentally manipulate morphology in a controlled, repeatable manner.

Research Interests

Biomechanics of Animal Locomotion, Biomimetic Robotics

Publications

McInroe, B., Astley, H.C., Gong, C., Kawano, S., Schiebel, P.E., Rieser, J.M., Choset, H., Blob, R.W., Goldman, D.I. (2016) Tail use improves performance on soft substrates in models of early vertebrate land locomotors. Science, Vol. 353 no 6295 pp 154-158; doi: 10.1126/science.aaf0984

Astley, H.C., A. Haruta, and Roberts, T.J. (2015) Robust Jumping Performance and Elastic Energy Recovery from Compliant Perches in Tree Frogs. Journal of Experimental Biology, 218, 3360-3363; doi:10.1242/jeb.121715

Gong, C., Travers, M., Astley, H. C., Li, L., Mendelson, J., Goldman D. I., and Choset, H. (2015) Kinematic gait synthesis for snake robots. The International Journal of Robotics Research, OnlineFirst, doi:10.1177/0278364915593793

Astley, H. C., Gong, C., Dai, J., Travers, M., Serrano, M. M., Vela, P. A., Choset, H., Mendelson, J. R., Hu, D., and Goldman, D. I. (2015) Modulation of orthogonal body waves enables high maneuverability in sidewinding locomotion. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 112 no. 19, pp. 6200–6205 doi: 10.1073/pnas.1418965112

Astley, H. C., and Roberts, T. J. (2014) The mechanics of elastic loading and recoil in anuran jumping. Journal of Experimental Biology, 217, 4372-4378 doi:10.1242/jeb.110296

Marvi, H., Gong, C., Gravish, N., Astley, H. C., Travers, M., Hatton, R. L., Mendelson III, J. R., Choset, H., Hu, D. L., and Goldman, D. I. (2014) Sidewinding with minimal slip: snake and robot ascent of sandy slopes. Science, Vol. 346 no. 6206 pp. 224-229; doi: 10.1126/science.1255718

Astley, H. C., Abbot, E. M., Azizi, E., Marsh, R. L., and Roberts, T. J. (2013) Chasing maximal performance: A cautionary tale from the celebrated jumping frogs of Calaveras County. Journal of Experimental Biology, 216, 3947-3953. doi:10.1242/jeb.090357

Astley, H. C. (2012) Getting around when you’re round: quanitative analysis of the locomotion of the blunt-spined brittle star Ophiocoma echinata. Journal of Experimental Biology, 215, 1923-1929. doi: 10.1242/jeb.068460

Astley, H. C. and Roberts, T.J. (2012) Evidence for a vertebrate catapult: elastic energy storage in the plantaris tendon during frog jumping. Biology Letters, vol. 8 no. 3 386-389 doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0982

Astley, H. C. and Jayne, B.C. (2009) Arboreal habitat structure affects the performance and modes of locomotion of corn snakes (Elaphe guttata). Journal of Experimental Zoology, 311A: 207-216. doi: 10.1002/jez.521

Astley, H. C. and Jayne, B.C. (2007) Effects of perch diameter and incline on the kinematics, performance and modes of arboreal locomotion of corn snakes (Elaphe guttata). Journal of Experimental Biology, 210: 3862-3872. doi: 10.1242/jeb.009050

Education

  • Postdoctoral Researcher at Georgia Institute of Technology, Department of Physics (2013-2016)
  • Ph.D. from Brown University, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (2008-2013)
  • M.S. and B.S. from U. of Cincinnati, Biological Sciences (2005-2008, 2003-2005)
  • B.S. from Florida Institute of Technology, Aerospace Engineering (1998-2001)

Faculty Profile [PDF]