My research interests stem from two primary, and previously independent, endeavors in my life. One direction was academically focused with an engineering education and research experience in computational biomechanics, machine learning, and data analysis. The other direction was acrobatically focused and includes being a gymnast for 25 years and a circus artist/coach/consultant for the last six. This combination of academic and acrobatic experience provides me with real-world knowledge and expertise of human movement with an analytical mindset, and this serves as the foundation for my research directions.
The handstand is a complex motor skill that takes years to master. The process of learning a handstand is most often guided by an instructor. Explanations of what the body is doing and why are often based on individual beliefs and opinions, and prescribed drills and exercises for learning a handstand are based on their perceived efficacy. Consequently, the quality and content of instruction varies greatly based on the experience, knowledge, and background of the instructor. While there is a large body of research looking at balance on the feet, there is limited quality research on handstands and the process of learning this complex motor task.
The overarching aim of this research is to better understand the handstand, from a basic science perspective, in order to improve the teaching and learning processes. Secondarily, this work aims to consider and then support or refute claims that are used in practice. This work will be of interest to the handstand, circus, and acrobatic communities, as well as to the biomechanics community, and the knowledge gained from this work will be valuable for instructors and artists/athletes alike.
Circus has traditionally been a very manual industry in every sense of the work. The complexities of today’s circus industry are pushing the limits of human capabilities on the stage in performance as well as off the stage in performance support. The planning of on- and off-stage activities can be viewed from an operations and management perspective, a field that has long used analytic methods and systems thinking to improve the efficiency and performance of industrial processes.
The goal of this is work is to develop analytical tools that can assist human users in their daily duties in circus environments. Target tasks include those that are time consuming and inefficiently performed by humans that can be at least partially automated via analytics and/or computational tools. Directions of this work include the development of an automated scheduling system for circus training spaces that accommodates the variety of activities, coach expertise, coach availability, space capabilities, and that meets desired training objects. Work also continues on the development of a performance-related scheduling program that improves artist and technician workload management to reduce injury/accident risk and to reduce the time and cognitive burdens of a coach or stage manager.
Learn more at: www.chrisgatti.com
Contact Chris at “dr (dot) chrisgatti /at/ gmail [dot] com”