The Spence Locomotion Lab, more often referred to as Spence Lab, is a biomechanics and neuroscience lab the functions as part of Temple University’s Bioengineering department.
As a group we are interested in how and why animals move. Evolution has produced animals with breath-taking abilities. Legged animals gallop, climb, and jump through complex, uncertain environments. Arboreal animals climb, leap, glide, and fly through the forest canopy. We are challenged with discovering the mechanisms by which animals achieve these feats, and the selective pressures that have shaped them. If we can discover the general principles of how biological systems move, then we can advance both biology and medicine, whilst inspiring new technology.
In recent years, we have gotten excited about more applied work, using genetic tools to aid in neuromuscular injuries and disorders. In ongoing work we are using chemogenetics tools (DREADDs) to modulate afferent feedback, hoping to improve recovery from spinal cord injury, and discover how treatments like epidural electrical stimulation (EES) work. This work is in collaboration with Profs. Michel Lemay in BioE and George Smith at Temple Neuroscience.
We take an integrative approach. In the words of Karl Popper, we are students of problems, not disciplines. There is no reason to think the best tools to solve a given problem will come from within one discipline. Further, we strive to integrate across length scales to give more accurate understanding, and to tightly integrate theory and experiment.
I am fortunate to work with, and am continuously learning from, many hard working undergraduates, PhD students, and postdocs. They, combined with generous and supportive mentors, make science fun!
What We Do
Much of what we do revolves around spinal cord tissue, which might lead you to ask: Why pine for the spine?? Well, every year between 500,000 and 250,000 people worldwide suffer from spinal cord injuries, according to the World Health Organization. Additionally, studies show that spinal cord injuries not only increases the chances of dying prematurely by five times but also significantly reduces the individual’s quality of life. We strive to ensure that the research we do is working toward a healthier future for all!
Work With Animals
Accomplishments of Our Awesome Members:
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