Dr Angus John Cathcart McMorland

PhD, BTech(Biomed Science)

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Senior Lecturer
Honorary Academic


I studied Physiology as an undergraduate at the University of Auckland completing my Bachelor of Technology in Biomedical Science. I then went on to do a PhD, also in Physiology in Auckland, using laser scanning microscopy to measure subcellular structures involved in the circuitry responsible for generating breathing rhythm. I was then appointed as a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, recording intracortical activity from motor areas of the brain, deciphering patterns in those signals, and using them to drive realistic robotic prosthetic arms. I then returned to New Zealand where I was appointed as a Lecturer in the Exercise Sciences Department.

Research | Current

  • Human motor control
  • Stroke
  • Assistive technologies
  • Neurodevelopment
  • Early prediction of and intervention into cerebral palsy
  • Computational modelling

My research exists at the nexus of movement neuroscience, biomechanics, computational neuroscience and modelling, and biomedical engineering. I am interested in the fundamental physiology of mechanisms by which the brain controls movement, how those processes as impaired in motor disorders such as stroke, and how motor disabilities can be alleviated through engineering of rehabilitative or chronic assistive devices.

Teaching | Current

Semester 1

  • EXERSCI 203 Biomechanics 1 (course co-ordinator, teacher)
  • EXERSCI 705 Research in the Exercise Sciences (teacher)
  • EXERSCI 101 Foundations of Exercise and Sport Sciences (guest lecture)

Semester 2

  • EXERSCI 202 Principles of Tissue Adaptation (course co-ordinator, teacher)
  • EXERSCI 303 Biomechanics 2 (teacher)
  • BIOMENG 771 (guest lecture)
  • MEDSCI 317 (guest lecture)


Postgraduate supervision

Current students

  • Lysea Muñoz - Computational modeling of the motor system (PhD, Exercise Sciences and Auckland Bioengineering Institute)
  • Pablo Ortega-Auriol - Interfacing with muscle control after stroke for assistive devices (PhD, Exercise Sciences)
  • Thorben Pauli - (co-supervisor, PhD, Auckland Bioengineering Institute)
  • Lilian Lim - Measuring infants movements for early prediction of cerebral palsy (ME, Auckland Bioengineering Institute)
  • Roopa Thakker (MSc CEP, Exercise Sciences)

Past students

  • Rakesh Patel (MSc CEP, Exercise Sciences)
  • Amerson Govindsamy (MSc CEP, Exercise Sciences, MSc CEP)
  • Manjunath Shenoy (MSc CEP, Exercise Sciences, MSc CEP)
  • Matthew Ward - Probing cortical representations of muscle synergies (BSc Hons, Exercise Sciences)
  • Mi Jung Jeon - Effect of ankle strength training on post-stroke gait (MSc, Sport and Exercise Sciences)
  • Rory Lynch - Modelling and Predicting Upper Arm Movement Strategies (BE Hons, Biomedical Engineering)
  • Sheena Sharma - Gait initiation after stroke (advisor, PhD, Northwestern U)

Projects available

  • Measuring infant movements for prediction of cerebral palsy (for Masters or PhD student)
  • Constructing a bird-brain-machine interface to understand circuitry associated with singing (for Honours, Masters, or PhD student with biomedical science/engineering background)
  • Characterization of the neuromotor profile of people after stroke
  • Interaction between assistive devices and stroke impairment

I am always interested in talking with potential post-graduate students. If you are interested in doing post-graduate study related to any of the areas of research described above, please get in touch.


Chair, Undergraduate Committee, Exercise Sciences

Committees/Professional groups/Services

I chair the Undergraduate Committee of the Exercise Sciences, and sometimes attend Faculty of Science Academic Committee in that capacity.

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

As of 29 October 2020 there will be no automatic updating of 'selected publications and creative works' from Research Outputs. Please continue to keep your Research Outputs profile up to date.
  • Runnalls, K. D., Ortega-Auriol, P., McMorland, A. J. C., Anson, G., & Byblow, W. D. (2019). Effects of arm weight support on neuromuscular activation during reaching in chronic stroke patients. Experimental brain research, 237 (12), 3391-3408. 10.1007/s00221-019-05687-9
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/49628
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Winston Byblow, Greg Anson
  • Baker, S. P., Fulcher, M. L., Exeter, D. J., McMorland, A. J., & Sahni, M. (2019). Can a short neuromuscular warm up before tackling improve shoulder joint position sense in rugby players?. The Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness10.23736/S0022-4707.19.09568-9
  • Ortega-Auriol, P. A., Besier, T. F., Byblow, W. D., & McMorland, A. J. C. (2018). Fatigue Influences the Recruitment, but Not Structure, of Muscle Synergies. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 1210.3389/fnhum.2018.00217
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Winston Byblow, Thor Besier
  • Suway, S. B., Orellana, J., McMorland, A. J. C., Fraser, G. W., Liu, Z., Velliste, M., ... Schwartz, A. B. (2017). Temporally segmented directionality in the motor cortex. Cerebral Cortex, 28 (7), 1-14. 10.1093/cercor/bhx133
  • MacDonald, H. J., McMorland, A. J., Stinear, C. M., Coxon, J. P., & Byblow, W. D. (2017). An activation threshold model for response inhibition. PLoS ONE, 12 (1)10.1371/journal.pone.0169320
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Cathy Stinear, Winston Byblow
  • Sharma, S., McMorland, A. J., & Stinear, J. W. (2015). Stance limb ground reaction forces in high functioning stroke and healthy subjects during gait initiation. Clinical Biomechanics, 30 (7), 689-695. 10.1016/j.clinbiomech.2015.05.004
  • McMorland, A. J., Runnalls, K. D., & Byblow, W. D. (2015). A neuroanatomical framework for upper limb synergies after stroke. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 910.3389/fnhum.2015.00082
    Other University of Auckland co-authors: Winston Byblow
  • Velliste, M., Kennedy, S. D., Schwartz, A. B., Whitford, A. S., Sohn, J.-W., & McMorland, A. J. C. (2014). Motor cortical correlates of arm resting in the context of a reaching task and implications for prosthetic control. J Neurosci, 34 (17), 6011-6022. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3520-13.2014


Contact details

Primary office location

BUILDING 907 - Bldg 907
Level 2, Room 230
New Zealand

Social links

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