Madeleine Inglis

Flight Control in Birds

About me

I obtained my BSc in Bioveterinary Science at the Royal Veterinary College (University of London), and later returned to complete an MRes degree investigating the biomechanics of insect flight. For my research project I developed a computational fluid dynamics model to quantify and visualise the aerodynamic mechanisms used by mosquitoes. I am currently working towards my PhD at the University of Leeds under the supervision of Dr Graham Askew and Dr Simon Walker.

My project

Animals evolved to fly around 350 million years ago and have long been a source of inspiration for engineers. It is hoped that their evolutionary adaptations could provide solutions for producing more stable aeronautic designs. My PhD project aims to investigate how birds alter their wing morphology and kinematics in order to increase their flight speed, remain stable during changes in turbulence and perform certain manoeuvres. We are also curious as to how the flight muscles act together to produce the required changes in wing shape.

We will perform flight experiments in a variable speed wind tunnel to determine the in vivo muscle length change and activation patterns (using sonomicrometry and electromyography) and the corresponding changes in the birds’ wing topology (using high-speed imaging). To determine the muscles’ mechanical function, the recorded in vivo length change and activity patterns will be replicated in situ using the work loop technique to determine muscle force and power generation. By combining the results of these different experiments, we hope to gain a fuller picture of the mechanics of the individual flight muscles and how they interact to control wing movement and ultimately, flight.


Not yet available.