T. Richard Nichols, PhD

Adjunct Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine
GeorgiaTech Applied Physiology Professor & Chairman

Email:   trn@gatech.org
School of Applied Physiology, Georgia Institute of Technology
555 14th Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30318
Phone:   (404) 894-3986


The members of the School of Applied Physiology study mechanisms of movement and adaptation at all levels of biological organization from molecular signaling to motor behavior, with translational interests in rehabilitation, prosthetics and orthotics, motor learning, exercise and biologically inspired design. We offer a Ph.D. degree in Applied Physiology, as well as a clinical degree, Master of Science in Prosthetics and Orthotics. Associated with the doctoral training program is a training grant to support students interested in prosthetics and orthotics. A number of research programs in the School as well as this training grant include the active participation of members of the Division of Physical Therapy. Several members of the Division also participate in our class in Rehabilitation Research and our core curriculum in Applied Physiology. We look forward to a continued and deepening relationship with members of the Division.

My own research concerns the role of sensory feedback from muscles, and the associated neural processes in the spinal cord, in the control of movement and posture. Past and present members of my laboratory and a number of collaborators have made important breakthroughs in several areas, including (1) alterations in sensory processing following spinal cord injury, (2) functional consequences of peripheral nerve injury, (3) the role of fascia in motor coordination, (4) the role of Golgi tendon organs (force receptors) in regulating how the body interacts with the environment, (5) how central pattern generators are modified for specific motor tasks, (6) the impact of tendon transfer on sensory processing in the spinal cord, (7) the development of microelectrode arrays for applications in functional electrical stimulation and (8) the development of mathematical models of the musculoskeletal system and associated neural control circuits. We strive for a balance between understanding fundamental principles of biological design and translational research. Many of these studies are funded by the National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research in the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.


1976 Postdoctoral Fellow, The University of Alberta

1974 Ph.D. in Physiology, Harvard Universit

1969 Sc. B. Biology, Brown University

Recent Publications

Lay, A.N., Hass, C.J., Nichols, T.R. and Gregor, R.J. (2007). The effects of sloped surfaces on locomotion: An electromyographic analysis. J. Biomechanics 40:1276-1285.

Maas, H., Prilutsky, B.I., Nichols, T.R. and Gregor, R.J. (2007) Hindlimb kinematics in slope walking following self-reinnervation of medial and lateral gastrocnemius muscles in the cat. Exp Brain Res 181: 377-393.

Gottschall, JS, Nichols TR (2007) Head pitch affects muscle activity in the decerebrate cat hindlimb during walking. Exp Brain Res 182: 131-135.

Kiisa Nishikawa1, Andrew Biewener, Peter Aerts, Anna Ahn, Hillel Chiel, Monica Daley, Thomas Daniel, Robert Full, Melina Hale, Tyson Hedrick, A. Kristopher Lappin, T. Richard Nichols, Roger Quinn, Roy Ritzmann, Richard Satterlie, and Brett Szymik. (2007) Neuromechanics: An integrative approach for understanding motor control, Integrative and Comparative Biology, May 27, 2007.

Ross, K.T. and Nichols, T.R. (2009) Heterogenic feedback between hindlimb extensors in the spontaneously locomoting premammillary cat. J. Neurophysiol. 101: 184-197.

Honeycutt CF, Gottschall JS & Nichols TR. (2009) Electromyographic responses from the hindlimb musclesof the decerebrate cat in response to horizontal support surface perturbations. J Neurophysiol 101: 2751 – 2761.

Chang YH, Auyang A, Scholz JP, Nichols TR (2009) Whole limb kinematics are preferentially conserved over individual joint kinematics after peripheral nerve injury. J Exp Biol. 212: 3511 – 3521.
Honeycutt CF, Nichols TR. (2009)The decerebrate cat generates essential features of the force constraint strategy. J Neurophysiol. 101: 2751-61.

Honeycutt CF, Nichols TR (2010) Disruption of cutaneous feedback does not alter the directional tuning of postural responses in the decerebrate cat. Exp Brain Res 203: 765.

Stahl VA, Nichols TR (2011) Short term effects of muscular dnervation and fasciotomy on global limb variables during locomotion in the decerebrate cat. Cells, Tissues and Organs, published online, DOI: 10.1169/000323679.

Falcon MI, Stahl VA, Nichols TR (2011) Evidence that popliteal fat provides damping during locomotion in the cat. Cells, Tissues and Organs, published online, DOI: 10.1169/000323680.

Prather JF, Nardelli PJO, Nakanishi ST, Ross KT, Nichols TR, Pinter MJ, Cope TC (in press) Central factors are critical to recovery of the regenerated stretch-reflex circuit. J Physiol..

Gottschall JS, Nichols TR (2011) Neuromuscular strategies for transitions between level and hill surfaces during walking. Phil Trans R. Soc B 366: 1565 – 1579. Doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0355.

Awards and Honors

1st Annual Award for Excellence in Mentorship given by the Graduate Division Biological Biomedical Sciences, Emory, University, October, 1999.

Member, Neurology A Study Section, NIH, 1995 – 1999.

Editor-in-Chief, Motor Control, 2007 – 2010

Member, American Physical Therapy Association, Research Advisory Council, 1990 – 1992.