My research is in animal biomechanics; predominantly in animal locomotion and in soft tissues. I am a member of the Ecology & Evolutionary Biology theme.
- Wing morphing
- Tissues and tissue mechanics
- Membrane wings
My research aims to understand the evolution and aeromechanics of vertebrate flight. Among my research goals are to 1) understand why mammalian gliders have converged upon low-aspect-ratio membrane wings of skin on six instances across mammalian evolution: twice in squirrles, thrice in marsupials, and once at the root of primates; 2) examine the consequences of active and passive wing morphing in bats, birds, and vertebrate gliders; and 3) develop bio-inspired technology informed through biological study.
I teach on “Principles of Neuroscience” (BIOL2051) and I am responsible for re-validation and running of the Natural Sciences degree, with a team of others.
I attended a liberal arts college as I couldn't initially decide which scientific field I enjoyed the most. At Lewis & Clark College (Portland, OR USA), I took an array of biology, chemistry, physics, and maths courses; until I realised that despite enjoying physics and maths the most, I wanted to work on biological questions. At that point, I joined Kellar Autumn's lab and began working on questions at the interface of biology and mechanics (biomechanics), specifically focusing on gecko adhesion (see my paper co-authored with Travis Hagey in Evolution, 2017).
During my doctorate, I focused on developing biomechanics skills to understand how bats fly. My particular interest was in the wing membrane of bats which is composed of compliant and thin skin (tens of microns thick); it is these structural properties that dictate how it interacts with the air. For my disseration, I developed a structure model for wing tissue mechanics (as opposed to a phenomenological description), measured electromyography of small wing muscle responsible for controlling wing camber/billowing, studied the relationship between hindlimb movement in flight and movement of the wing membrane, and I examined the histological properties of wing tissue across bats.
Since then, I have worked on the flight of mosquitoes and raptors (birds). Where my work has focused on developing bio-inspired technology and approaches to improve and develop small air vehicles.