An honours student at UQ, Stewart has a keen interest in all things reptilian, particularly crocodilians. His project focuses on establishing which muscles saltwater crocodiles use while swimming. To do this, he is swimming crocodiles in a flume tank while some of their muscles are connected to very fine electrodes (a process called electromyography; EMG). If the muscles contract, the electrodes pick up a small electrical signal, which is then amplified, displayed and recorded on a computer system. The animals are videotaped as they swim, and this footage is digitised in real time, and then synchronised with the EMG data.
This research is significant not only because it enables Stewart to fulfil his childhood dream of being able to play with crocodiles, but it will also test hypotheses formed by other researchers, and contribute further to our understanding of the bracing system in living crocodilians.
To find out more about Stewart's interest in Australian reptiles, click here.
The image above refers to Stewart's obsession with crocodile wrangling and began when he was just a wee lad. Here he is aged thirteen with a small freshie, which he claims to have wrestled into submission all by himself. Stewart Macdonald collection.