Robert J. Full

Professor of Integrative Biology
Phone: 510-642-9896
Keywords: mechanics, controls, materials, evolution
Research Areas: biology, comparative biomechanics, comparative physiology, functional morphology, locomotion, arthropod, amphibian, reptilian, energetics, neuro-mechanics

Research Description:

My primary interests reside in the area of comparative biomechanics and physiology. My research program quantifies whole animal performance in general and locomotion in particular as it relates to an animal’s structure, physiology, and behavior. We use biomechanical, computer simulation (dynamic musculo-skeletal modeling), physical modeling (robot and artificial muscle construction), isolated muscle, biochemical, whole-animal exercise physiology and field-tracking techniques to seek general design principles for species which have evolved different solutions to the problems of locomotion and activity in general. The study of arthropod, amphibian and reptilian locomotion continues to offer an excellent opportunity for comparison. Animals such as crabs, cockroaches, ants, beetles, scorpions, centipedes, geckos and salamanders show tremendous variation in body shape, gas transport system, leg number, musculoskeletal arrangement and mode of movement. Diversity enables discovery. We use these “novel” biological designs as natural experiments to probe for basic themes concerning the relationship between morphology, body size, energetics, dynamics, control, stability, maneuverability, maximum speed and endurance. An understanding of the diverse biological solutions to the problems of locomotion contributes to the development of a general theory of energetics, neuro-mechanics and behavior. We collaborate closely with engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists by providing biological principles to inspire the design of multi-legged robots, artificial limbs and muscles, novel control algorithms, and self-cleaning, dry adhesives.

Selected publications:

  • Spenko, M.J., G. C. Haynes, J. A. Saunders, M. R. Cutkosky, A. A. Rizzi, R. J. Full, D. E. Koditschek. Biologically Inspired Climbing with a Hexapedal Robot. Journal of Field Robotics. Volume 25, Issue 4-5, 223-242, 2008.
  • Lee, J., S. Sponberg, O. Loh, A. Lamperski, R.J. Full, and N. Cowan. Templates and anchors for antenna- based wall following in cockroaches and robots. IEEE Transactions on Robotics. 24, 130-143, 2008.
  • Jusufi, A., D. I. Goldman, S. Revzen, and R. J. Full. Active tails enhance arboreal acrobatics in geckos. PNAS. 105, 4215–4219, 2008.
  • Spagna, J.C., D. I. Goldman, P-C. Lin, D. E. Koditschek and R. J. Full. Distributed mechanical feedback in arthropods and robots simplifies control of rapid running on challenging terrain. Bioinsp. Biomim. 2, 9–18, 2007.
  • Dickinson, M.H. Farley, C.T., Full, R.J., Koehl, M. A. R., Kram R., and Lehman, S. How animals move: An integrative view. Science 288, 100-106, 2000.
  • Sponberg, S. and R. J. Full. Neuromechanical response of musculo-skeletal structures in cockroaches during rapid running on rough terrain. J. exp Bio. 211, 433-446, 2008.
  • Nishikawa, K., Biewener, A. A., Aerts, P., Ahn, A. N., Chiel, H. J., Daley, M. A., Daniel, T. L., Full, R. J., Hale, M. E., Hedrick, T. L., Lappin, A. K., Nichols, T. R., Quinn, R. D., Satterlie, R. A., Szymik, B. Neuromechanics: an integrative approach for understanding motor control. Integr. Comp. Biol. 47, 16-54, 2007.
  • Holmes, P., Full, R.J., Koditschek, D. and Guckenheimer, J. Dynamics of legged locomotion: Models, analyses, and challenges. SIAM Review (SIREV) 48 (2), 207-304, 2006
  • Autumn, K., Sitti, M., Liang, Y.A., Peattie, A.M., Hansen, W.R., Sponberg, S., Kenny, T., Fearing, R., Israelachvili, J.N. & Full, R.J. Evidence for van der Waals adhesion in gecko setae. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 99 (19), 12252-12256, 2002.
  • Full, R.J. and Koditschek, D. E. Templates and Anchors – Neuromechanical hypotheses of legged locomotion on land. J. exp Bio. 202, 3325-3332, 1999.
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