IMAGE OF Nicolai Konow

Nicolai Konow, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, UMOVE Co-Director

College of Sciences
Biological Sciences, UMOVE
Olsen 222


Biomechanics, muscle physiology, ecomorphology

Research Interests

Form-function-mechanics relationships. Integration and coordination of movements. Muscle contraction and tendon action. Ecological diversification. Evolutionary transitions. Feeding.


Postdocs: Harvard University, Brown University, Johns Hopkins University
Ph.D., James Cook University
BSc., MSc., U. Copenhagen


In my lab, we pursue an understanding of how biological movements, as seen during feeding and locomotion arise from mechanical interactions between contracting muscles, springy tendons and jointed skeletons. We combine tools from biomechanics, muscle physiology, and functional morphology into a research program that is relevant to students interested in organismal biology, ecology and evolution, and biomedical or health-care careers. Some of our current projects seek to determine how changes in chewing movement patterns impact ecological transitions like terrestrialization. Other ongoing projects have direct implications for questions in human health, including how contractile-elastic mechanics differ between muscles and is affected by stretch injury, and how muscle-tendon function changes within an organism from cradle to grave.

For news about our research, please follow our group on Twitter @KonowLab.

Selected Publications

Wallace I J, Riew G, Landau R, Bendele A, Holowka N, Hedrick T, Konow N, Brooks D, Liebermann D. (2021) Experimental evidence that physical activity inhibits osteoarthritis: Implications for inferring activity patterns from osteoarthritis in archeological human skeletons. Am J Phys Anth.
Cavigelli S, Leips J, Xiang J, Lemke D, Konow N. (2021) Next steps in integrative biology: Mapping interactive processes across levels of biological organization. NSF Reintegrating Biology Jumpstart. Integrative and Comparative Biology.
Panessiti C, Rickards G, Rull M, Konow N. (2021). Thermal sensitivity of Axolotl feeding behaviors. Integrative and Comparative Biology.
Putra C. Konow N, Gage M, York C. Mangano K. (2021). Protein Source and Muscle Health in Older Adults; a review. Nutrients 13(3):743.
Tijs C, Konow N, Biewener AA (2021). Effect of muscle stimulation intensity on the heterogeneous function of regions within an architecturally complex muscle. J. Appl. Phys.
Wakeling JM, Tijs C, Konow N, Biewener AA. (2021). Modeling muscle function using experimentally determined subject-specific muscle properties. Journal of Biomechanics.
Schwarz D, Konow N, Heiss E. (2020). Ontogenetic plasticity in cranial morphology is associated with a change in food processing behavior in Alpine newts. Frontiers in Zoology.
Schwarz D, Gorb S, Kovalev A, Konow N, Heiss E. (2020). Flexibility of intraoral food processing in salamandrid newts: Effects of environment and prey type. Journal of Experimental Biology.

Taylor-Burt K, Konow N, Biewener AA (2020) Post-activation muscle potentiation and its relevance to cyclic movement. Biology Letters.

Taylor-Burt K, Konow N, Biewener AA (2020) Post-activation muscle potentiation and its relevance to cyclic movement. Biology Letters.

Rull M, Solomon J, Konow N (2020) Elastic recoil drives jaw closure in an aquatic-feeding salamander. Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B.

Konow N, Collias A, Biewener AA. (2020) In vivo dynamic shape-changes in the medial gastrocnemius during rat locomotion are force dependent. Frontiers in Physiology. 11:143.

Jayshini NM, Kessler S, Rainbow MJ D’Andera SE, Konow N, Kelley L, Lichtwark GA. (2020) reliability of exploring intrinsic motion of the foot with biplanar videoradiography. Front. Bioeng. Biotech.8:106

Schwarz D, Konow N, Heiss E (2020) A salamander that chews with complex, three-dimensional mandible movements. J. Exp. Biol.

Ravi S, Noda R, Gagliardi S, Kolomenskiy D, Combes S, Liu H, Biewener AA, Konow N. (2020) Modulation of flight muscle recruitment and wing rotation enables hummingbirds to mitigate aerial roll perturbations. Current Biology

Eng C, Tijs C, Konow N, Holt N, De Boef M, Biewener AA (2019) Mechanical performance of two rat hind limb muscles with respect to gait and slope. J. Exp. Biol.

Karakostis FA, Wallace I, Konow N, Havarti K. (2019) Experimental evidence that physical activity affects the multivariate associations among muscle attachments (entheses). J. Exp. Biol. 222 (23)

Lin Y, Konow N, Dumont E (2019) How moles walk; it’s all thumbs. Biology Letters 15 (10) 20190503. 10.1098/rsbl.2019.0503.

Putra C, Rimkus B, Shehaj A, Gage M, Konow N, Mangano K. (2019) Impact of dietary protein source on muscle performance: An in-vivo behavioral assay. Curr. Devt. Nutr. 3 (suppl. 1), nzz033.

Kessler SE, Rainbow ME, Lichtwark GA, Cresswell AG, D’Andrea SE, Konow N, Kelly LA (2019) A Direct Comparison of Biplanar Videoradiography and Optical Motion Capture for Foot and Ankle Kinematics. Front. Bioeng. Biotech. 7, 199.

Witzmann F, Brainerd EL, Konow N (2019) Eye movements in frogs and salamanders: testing the palatal buccal pump hypothesis. Int. Org. Biol. IOB2019008.

Arellano C, Konow N, Gidmark N, Roberts TJ (2019) Tunable tendons: Elastic energy storage in aponeuroses varies with transverse strain in vivoProc. R. Soc. B. 20182764.

Heiss E, Schwarz D, Konow N (2019) Chewing or not? Intraoral food processing in a salamandrid newt. J. Exp. Biol.

Lin Y, Konow N, Dumont E (2019) How moles destroy your lawn: the forelimb kinematics of Eastern moles in loose and compact substrates. J. Exp. Biol.

Ahn A, Konow N, Tijs C, Biewener AA (2018) Segments within vertebrate muscle can operate on different regions of the force-length relationship. Integr. Comp. Biol. 58(2) 219-231

Konow N, Price S, Aabom R, Bellwood DR, Wainwright PC (2017) Contrasting rates of eco-morphological diversification in coral reef butterfly and bannerfishes. Proc. R. Soc. B. 20170906

Frédérich B, Santini F, Konow N, Lecchini, Alfaro ME (2017) Convergent miniaturization in marine angelfishes. Biol. Lett. 20170154

Konow N, Cheney J, Roberts TJ, Iriarte-Diaz J, Breuer K, Waldman R, Swartz SM (2017) Speed-dependent modulation of wing muscle recruitment intensity and kinematics in two bat species. J. Exp. Biol.

Wallace I, Winchester J, Su A, Boyer DM, Konow N (2017) Physical activity alters limb bone structure but not entheseal morphology. J. Hum. Evol.

Arellano CJ, Gidmark NJ, Konow N, Azizi E, Roberts TJ (2016) Determinants underlying aponeurosis shape change during muscle contraction. J. Biomech. 49:1812-7