Dr. Henry Astley

Dr. Henry Astley

Title: Assistant Professor; BRIC Core Faculty
Dept/Program: Biology and the School of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering
Office: ASEC C308
Phone: 330-972-8192
Email: hastley@uakron.edu
Website: https://blogs.uakron.edu/astleylab/


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.


Biomechanics of Animal Locomotion, Biomimetic Robotics


Google Scholar | Ohio Innovation Exchange

  • Astley, H., Rieser, J., Kaba, A., Paez, V. M., Tomkinson, I. K., Mendelson, J., and Goldman, D. I. (2020). Side-impact collision: Mechanics of obstacle negotiation in sidewinding snakes. Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, v 16, n 6. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-3190/ABB415 PDF
  • Astley, H.C. The Biomechanics of Multi-articular Muscle–Tendon Systems in Snakes. Integr Comp Biol. 2020;60(1):140–155. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icaa012 PDF
  • Astley, H.C. Long Limbless Locomotors Over Land: The Mechanics and Biology of Elongate, Limbless Vertebrate Locomotion. Integr Comp Biol. 2020;60(1):134–139. https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icaa034 PDF
  • Schiebel, P. E.,Astley, H.C., Rieser, J.M., Agarwal, S., Hubicki, C., Hubbard, A.M., Diaz, K., Mendelson III, J. R., Kamrin, K., and Goldman, D.I. Mitigating memory effects during undulatory locomotion on hysteretic materials. eLife 2020;9:e51412 doi: 10.7554/eLife.51412 PDF
  • Jurestovsky, D. J., Jayne, B. C., and Astley, H. C. Experimental modification of morphology reveals the effects of the zygosphene–zygantrum joint on the range of motion of snake vertebrae. J Exp Biol 223:jeb216531 doi: 10.1242/jeb.216531 PDF
  • Astley H.C., Mendelson J.R., Dai J., Gong C., Chong B., Rieser J.M., Schiebel P.E., Sharpe S.S., Hatton R.L., Choset H., and Goldman D.I. (2020) Surprising simplicities and syntheses in limbless self-propulsion in sand. J Exp Biol 223:jeb103564. doi: 10.1242/jeb.103564 PDF
  • Langowski, J.K.A., Singla, S., Nyarko, A., Schipper, H., van den Berg, F. T., Kaur, S., Astley, H. C., Gussekloo, S. W. S., Dhinojwala, A., and van Leeuwen, J. L. (2019) Comparative and functional analysis of the digital mucus glands and secretions of tree frogs. Frontiers in Zoology, 16:19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12983-019-0315-z PDF
  • Han, S. I., Astley, H. C., Maksuta, D. D., and Blackledge, T. A. (2019) External power amplification drives prey capture in a spider web. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(24), 12060-12065. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1821419116 PDF
  • Reynaga, C. M., Astley, H. C., and Azizi, E. (2018) Morphological and kinematic specializations of walking frogs. Journal of Experimental Zoology A, 329:87–98. doi.org/10.1002/jez.2182 PDF
  • Astley, H.C., Astley, V.E., Brothers, D., Mendelson, J. R. (2017) Digital Analysis of Photographs for Snake Length Measurement. Herpetological Review, 2017, 48(1), 39–43. PDF


  • 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).