Until September, 2016, Reinhard Blickhan held the chair of Motion Science at the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. He studied physics at the Justus-Liebig-University, Gießen, and the Technical University Darmstadt. His experimental master’s thesis (1976) dealt with the critical slowing down, a co-operative phenomenon frequently observed in the vicinity of phase transitions. Combining his background in physics with an unbroken interest in living systems he joined the group of “Sensory Physiology” around Prof. F.G. Barth at the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main. In his PhD-thesis (1983) he investigated how the movement of spiders generates strains in the exoskeleton which in turn can be detected by slit sense organs. Thereafter, the stimulating environment created by C.R. Taylor, and T.A. McMahon at the Concord-Field-Station, Harvard University, allowed him to deepen his experimental and theoretical research on the biomechanics of legged locomotion. Back in Germany he joined the group of W. Nachtigall. By introducing new flow capture techniques (PIV) and combining this with kinematic and EMG-studies he investigated the energetics of fish locomotion (Walther-Arndt-Habilitationspreis of the Deutsche-Zoologische-Gesellschaft). Equipped with a Heisenberg-fellowship he received a call from the Friedrich-Schiller University, Jena, for the chair of Biomechanics at the Institute of Sport Science. He served for seven years as director of the institute and headed the Innovation College “Motion Systems”.
Areas of Research / Professional Expertise
With a group of young scientists with backgrounds in biology, sports-science, engineering, mathematics, and physics and corresponding co-operations he followed up his interests in basic principles of locomotion. Objects of research have been trout, ants, spiders, cockroaches, crabs, lizards, birds, mice, rabbits, macaques, and certainly human. By comparing predictions from mechanical models with experimental results the scientists attempt to improve the mathematical description of the properties of muscles and their use within the motion system. Moreover, they investigate to which extent basic external mechanical conditions such as size, or the conditions of an ecological niche influence, or even determine the biological solutions. They further ask, how the mechanical properties, the composition and the nonlinear dynamics of the motion system facilitate its control.
He sings and plays the acoustic guitar.