Andrew Spence

Associate Professor in Bioengineering

Office Hours

Room 814
Tuesday: 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM
Thursday: 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM


Andrew J. Spence, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at Temple University. His research group focuses on understanding how animals (including humans) move. The Spence group takes an interdisciplinary and comparative approach to this problem, integrating biomechanical studies of moving animals with robotics and new techniques from the frontier of molecular biology (optogenetics). Prior to coming to Temple University, Dr. Spence was a tenured Lecturer (2012-2013) at the Structure and Motion Laboratory at the Royal Veterinary College, London, UK. Dr. Spence was an RCUK Academic Research Fellow at the Structure and Motion Lab (2007-2012), during which time he established a research program in the control and neuromechanics of legged locomotion, with a side-line in the evolution and biomechanics of mammalian gliding. For both of these areas Dr. Spence has a focus on developing and applying new technologies. Dr. Spence started out in the Structure & Motion Laboratory as a Postdoc with Prof. Alan Wilson (2006-2007), looking at the biomechanics of horses on varied surfaces. Before moving to the UK, Dr. Spence studied antennal mechanoreception with Prof. Eileen Hebets, and then the neuromechanics of locomotion in the PolyPEDAL Laboratory with Prof. Bob Full (2004-2006). His undergraduate degree is in Physics, from UC Berkeley (1993-1997), and his PhD thesis work, at Cornell University (1997-2003), was in the Applied and Engineering Physics Department. His thesis work was on electronic and fluidic microfabricated devices for neural interfacing, with Prof. Mike Isaacson; these devices were tested in neuroethological studies in the lab of Prof. Ron Hoy.


  • Ph.D. Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University, 2003
  • B.S. Physics, University of California at Berkeley, 1997

Academic Appointments

  • Associate Professor, Bioengineering Department, Temple University, 2013-present
  • Lecturer (with tenure), Structure and Motion Laboratory, Royal Veterinary College, 2012-2013
  • RCUK Academic Research Fellow (tenure-track), Structure and Motion Laboratory, Royal Veterinary College, 2007-2012
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Structure and Motion Laboratory, Royal Veterinary College, 2006-2007
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California at Berkeley, 2004-2006

Recent Publications

  • Self, Z.T., Spence, A.J., Wilson, A.M.  Biology Letters (2017) Revised.
  • Simon Wilshin, G. Clark Haynes, Jack Porteous, Daniel Koditschek, Shai Revzen, and Andrew Spence.  Biological Cybernetics (2017) Under Review.
  • Simon Wilshin, Michelle Reeve, G. Clark Haynes, Shai Revzen, Daniel Koditschek and Andrew Spence.  Journal of Experimental Biology (2017) in press.
  • A.J. Spence. Fast horses, robots, and neurotechnologies: Discovering how to go fast on legs. Science in Parliament (2013) 70 (3): 23-25. Summer 2013.
  • A.J. Spence, G. Nicholson-Thomas, R. Lampe. Closing the loop in legged neuromechanics: an open-source computer vision controlled treadmill. Journal of Neuroscience Methods (2013) 215 (2): 164-169.
  • A.J. Spence and J. Hutchinson. A Growing Size Synthesis. Current Biology (2012) 22 (9): R309-R314.
  • A.J. Spence. Control strategies for legged locomotion: a comparative approach. 7th European Nonlinear Dynamics Conference (ENOC 2011), Rome, Italy.
  • A.J. Spence, S. Revzen, J. Seipel, C. Mullens, and R.J. Full. Insects running on elastic surfaces. Journal of Experimental Biology 213 (2010) p 1907-1920.

Research Interest

  • Neuromechanics
  • Biomechanics
  • Optogenetics
  • Robotics
  • Motor control
  • Animal locomotion

Funding Sources

  • BBSRC - Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (UK)
  • EPSRC – Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (UK)
  • RCUK – Research Councils UK (UK)
  • The Royal Society (UK)

Teaching Philosophy

I thoroughly enjoy teaching, mentoring, and learning from students at all stages of their careers. I'm particularly interested in inquiry based learning, based on principles from the Perry and Nelson framework of cognitive development. I believe that confronting students with the difficulty of making discoveries in a laboratory setting is an avid stimulator of mental growth, and is one of the best ways to promote higher level thinking.