After finishing my master in ecology (with a touch of computer science) here in Lund, I started as a PhD student in the Animal Flight Lab in March 2013 with Anders Hedenström and Christoffer Johansson as my supervisors. In my PhD project I study the aerodynamics of insect flight, aiming to answer questions such as: "what factors affect the aerodynamic efficiency?" and "what are the effects of the animal moving its wings back through a previously shed wake?"
My study animals have up until now been different hawkmoth species, mainly the diurnal Macroglossum stellatarum and the very large, nocturnal Manduca sexta. Hawkmoths are fast and stable flyers that eat nectar while hovering in front of a flower, and can be trained to feed from artificial flowers. This can then be used as a way of positioning the moths when we study them in the large wind tunnel originally built mainly for bird flight. In addition to studying wing kinematics, I will use particle image velocimetry (PIV) to study the airflow behind (and possibly around) the animals. While most such systems only lets us measure the airflow in a plane, our recently acquired tomographic PIV system allows us to see the flow in all three dimensions. I will also try to find or develop a technique for visualising wing deformation, something that recently has been found to play quite a large role in the force production of insect wings.
In addition to hawkmoth aerodynamics, I have plans to study the morphological and aerodynamic differences between migratory and resident butterflies, perhaps comparing the monarch butterfly with closely related non-migratory species.
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