Birn-Jeffery, Aleksandra

MSc Co-ordinator (Sports and Exercise)

Aleksandra is the joint MSc co-ordinator in Sports and Exercise. The role involves organising the academic structure of the course, with Aleksandra’s particular focus being the ‘Medic route’ through the MSc. Other aspects include student project supervision, module leading and lecturing, student assessments and the general administrative running of the course.

Aleksandra was awarded her PhD in Biomechanics from the Royal Veterinary College in 2012, after completing an MSci at the University of Bristol in 2008. Since 2012, she has worked as a postdoctoral researcher in California, USA and Cambridge, UK, before moving to Queen Mary University of London in 2016. She has extensive experience in a broad range of techniques, which includes motion capture, force plates and a variety of different data analysis techniques. Her broad research interests are to understand how organisms move in non-level environments in order to elucidate the control targets and neuromechanics of locomotion.

Summary of Research

Before QMUL, Aleksandra’s work has previously focused in using animals as model systems to identify how animals move in non-level environments, using different conditions such as obstacles, no light and soft surfaces to push the locomotor system further. Pushing movements into regions where greater instabilities could occur helps inform on the neuromechanics of locomotion and potentially allow the identification of parameters that are important for control.

Currently, Aleksandra is now further using sports performance tasks, as these high-performance tasks are very demanding and this is when musculoskeletal limits may be reached further providing insights into the neuromechanical demands on the body. Furthermore, during these high-performance tasks, increased gait variability may also be an indicator of where the neuromechanical system is not coping with demand. Aleksandra, is using these highly complex tasks in order to try and inform on further rehabilitation potentials and directions.

Key Publications

Muller, R., Birn-Jeffery, A.V., and Blum, Y. (2016) Human and avian running on uneven ground: a model-based comparison. Journal of the Royal Society Interface, 13 (122): DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2016.0529

Birn-Jeffery, A.V., and Higham, T.E. (2016) Light level impacts locomotor biomechanics in a secondarily diurnal gecko, Rhoptropus afer. Journal of Experimental Biology, 219: 3649-3655

Birn-Jeffery, A.V., and Higham, T.E. (2016) Geckos decouple fore- and hind limb kinematics in response to changes in incline. Frontiers in Zoology, 13 (1), 1-13. doi: 10.1186/s12983-016-0144-2

Higham, T.E., Measey, G.J., Birn-Jeffery, A.V., Herrel, A., and Tolley, K.A. (2015). Functional divergence between morphs of a dwarf chameleon: differential locomotor kinematics in relation to habitat structure. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 166 (1): 27-40. doi: 10.1111/bij.12566

Higham, T.E., Birn-Jeffery, A.V., Collins, C.E., Hulsey, C.D., and Russell, A.P (2015). Adaptive simplification and the evolution of gecko locomotion: Morphological and biomechanical consequences of losing adhesion. PNAS, 112 (3): 809-814.

Birn-Jeffery, A.V., Hubicki, C.M., Blum, Y., Renjewski, D., Hurst, J., and Daley, M.A. (2014) Don’t break a leg: running birds from quail to ostrich prioritise leg safety and economy in uneven terrain. Journal of Experimental Biology, 217 (21): 3786-3796.

Birn-Jeffery, A.V., and Higham, T.E. (2014) Geckos significantly alter foot orientation to facilitate adhesion during downhill locomotion. Biology Letters, 10 (10): 20140456.

Blum. Y., Vejdani, H. R., Birn-Jeffery, A.V., Hubicki, C., Hurst, J., Daley, M. A. (2014) Swing-leg trajectory of running guinea fowl suggests task-level priority of force regulation rather than disturbance rejection. Plos ONE, 9(6): e100399. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0100399

Birn-Jeffery, A.V., and Higham, T.E. (2014) The scaling of uphill and downhill locomotion in legged animals. Integrative and Comparative Biology,54 (6): 1159-1172

Birn-Jeffery, A.V., Miller, C.E., Naish, D., Rayfield, E.J., and Hone, D.W.E. (2012) Pedal claw curvature in birds, lizards and Mesozoic dinosaurs – complicated categories and compensating for mass-specific and phylogenetic control. Plos ONE, 7 (12).

Birn-Jeffery, A.V., Daley, M.A. (2012) Birds achieve high robustness in uneven terrain through active control of landing conditions. Journal of Experimental Biology, 215 (12): 2117-2127

Blum, Y., Birn-Jeffery, A.V., Daley, M.A., Seyfarth, A. (2011) Does A Crouched Leg Posture Enhance Running Stability and Robustness? Journal of Theoretical Biology, 281 (1): 97-106

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