Sharon received her undergraduate training in Biology and Anthropology/Sociology at Oberlin College, graduating with Highest Honors in 1981. After time away from school, she went on to graduate study in the Committee on Evolutionary Biology at The University of Chicago, and completed her doctorate in 1988, focusing on biomechanical approaches to understanding evolutionary patterns in the mammalian limb skeleton. In 1987, she joined the faculty of Northwestern University in the interdisciplinary Primate Biology Graduate Program. Around this time, she turned her attention from primate locomotion to bat flight, while maintaining active interests in fundamental aspects of size and scale in the architecture of bones. Her work on bats includes studies of mechanical properties of tissues of the bat wing, dynamics of wing movements during flight, fluid dynamics of highly flexible airfoils, and aerodynamics and energetics of bat flight, and her active collaborations link biology to engineering, computer science, and mathematics.
|Joshi, Vaibhav, Jaiman, Rajeev K., Li, Guojun, Breuer, Kenneth, Swartz, Sharon. "Full-scale aeroelastic simulations of hovering bat flight." AIAA Scitech 2020 Forum, 2020.|
|Boerma DB, Barrantes JP, Chung C, Chaverri G, Swartz SM. "Specialized landing maneuvers in Spix's disk-winged bats (<i>Thyroptera tricolor</i>) reveal linkage between roosting ecology and landing biomechanics." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 222, no. Pt 20, 2019.|
|Rummel, Andrea D., Swartz, Sharon M., Marsh, Richard L. "Warm bodies, cool wings: regional heterothermy in flying bats." Biology Letters, vol. 15, no. 9, 2019, pp. 20190530.|
|Boerma DB, Breuer KS, Treskatis TL, Swartz SM. "Wings as inertial appendages: how bats recover from aerial stumbles." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 222, no. Pt 20, 2019.|
|Rummel AD, Swartz SM, Marsh RL. "Low thermal dependence of the contractile properties of a wing muscle in the bat <i>Carollia perspicillata</i>." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 221, no. Pt 14, 2018.|
|Vejdani, Hamid R, Boerma, David B, Swartz, Sharon M, Breuer, Kenneth S. "The dynamics of hovering flight in hummingbirds, insects and bats with implications for aerial robotics." Bioinspiration & Biomimetics, vol. 14, no. 1, 2018, pp. 016003.|
|Cheney, Jorn A., Allen, Justine J., Swartz, Sharon M. "Diversity in the organization of elastin bundles and intramembranous muscles in bat wings." Journal of Anatomy, vol. 230, no. 4, 2017, pp. 510-523.|
|Voigt, Christian C., Frick, Winifred F., Holderied, Marc W., Holland, Richard, Kerth, Gerald, Mello, Marco A. R., Plowright, Raina K., Swartz, Sharon, Yovel, Yossi. "Principles and Patterns of Bat Movements: From Aerodynamics to Ecology." The Quarterly Review of Biology, vol. 92, no. 3, 2017, pp. 267-287.|
|Konow, Nicolai, Cheney, Jorn A., Roberts, Thomas J., Iriarte-Díaz, Jose, Breuer, Kenneth S., Waldman, J. Rhea S., Swartz, Sharon M. "Speed-dependent modulation of wing muscle recruitment intensity and kinematics in two bat species." The Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 220, no. Pt 10, 2017, pp. jeb.144550.|
|Schunk, Cosima, Swartz, Sharon M., Breuer, Kenneth S. "The influence of aspect ratio and stroke pattern on force generation of a bat-inspired membrane wing." Interface Focus, vol. 7, no. 1, 2017, pp. 20160083.|
|McCracken, Gary F., Safi, Kamran, Kunz, Thomas H., Dechmann, Dina K. N., Swartz, Sharon M., Wikelski, Martin. "Airplane tracking documents the fastest flight speeds recorded for bats." Royal Society Open Science, vol. 3, no. 11, 2016, pp. 160398.|
|Bahlman, Joseph W., Price-Waldman, Rosalyn M., Lippe, Hannah W., Breuer, Kenneth S., Swartz, Sharon M. "Simplifying a wing: diversity and functional consequences of digital joint reduction in bat wings." J. Anat., vol. 229, no. 1, 2016, pp. 114-127.|
|Hubel, Tatjana Y., Hristov, Nickolay I., Swartz, Sharon M., Breuer, Kenneth S. "Wake structure and kinematics in two insectivorous bats." Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 371, no. 1704, 2016, pp. 20150385.|
|Cheney JA, Konow N, Bearnot A, Swartz SM. "A wrinkle in flight: the role of elastin fibres in the mechanical behaviour of bat wing membranes." Journal of The Royal Society Interface, vol. 12, no. 106, 2015, pp. 20141286-20141286.|
|Swartz, Sharon M. "Advances in animal flight studies 1." Can. J. Zool., vol. 93, no. 12, 2015, pp. v-vi.|
|Swartz, S.M., Konow, N. "Advances in the study of bat flight: the wing and the wind 1." Can. J. Zool., vol. 93, no. 12, 2015, pp. 977-990.|
|Skulborstad AJ, Swartz SM, Goulbourne NC. "Biaxial mechanical characterization of bat wing skin." Bioinspiration & biomimetics, vol. 10, no. 3, 2015, pp. 036004.|
|Bergou AJ, Swartz SM, Vejdani H, Riskin DK, Reimnitz L, Taubin G, Breuer KS. "Falling with Style: Bats Perform Complex Aerial Rotations by Adjusting Wing Inertia." PLOS Biology, vol. 13, no. 11, 2015, pp. e1002297.|
|Sample, Caitlin S., Xu, Alan K., Swartz, Sharon M., Gibson, Lorna J. "Nanomechanical properties of wing membrane layers in the house cricket (Acheta domesticus Linnaeus)." Journal of Insect Physiology, vol. 74, 2015, pp. 10-5.|
|Konow, Nicolai, Cheney, Jorn A., Roberts, Thomas J., Waldman, J. Rhea S., Swartz, Sharon M. "Spring or string: does tendon elastic action influence wing muscle mechanics in bat flight?." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 282, no. 1816, 2015, pp. 20151832.|
|Chen, Po-Ting, Joshi, Shiv P., Swartz, Sharon, Breuer, Kenneth, Reich, Gregory W. "Bat-Inspired Flapping Flight." 22nd AIAA/ASME/AHS Adaptive Structures Conference, 2014.|
|Cheney JA, Ton D, Konow N, Riskin DK, Breuer KS, Swartz SM. "Hindlimb motion during steady flight of the lesser dog-faced fruit bat, Cynopterus brachyotis." PLoS ONE, vol. 9, no. 5, 2014, pp. e98093.|
|Long, John H., Combes, Stacey, Nawroth, Janna, Hale, Melina, Lauder, George, Swartz, Sharon, Quinn, Roger, Chiel, Hillel. "How Does Soft Robotics Drive Research in Animal Locomotion?." Soft Robotics, vol. 1, no. 3, 2014, pp. 161-168.|
|Bahlman JW, Swartz SM, Breuer KS. "How wing kinematics affect power requirements and aerodynamic force production in a robotic bat wing." Bioinspiration & biomimetics, vol. 9, no. 2, 2014, pp. 025008.|
|Cheney JA, Konow N, Middleton KM, Breuer KS, Roberts TJ, Giblin EL, Swartz SM. "Membrane muscle function in the compliant wings of bats." Bioinspiration & biomimetics, vol. 9, no. 2, 2014, pp. 025007.|
|von Busse R, Waldman RM, Swartz SM, Voigt CC, Breuer KS. "The aerodynamic cost of flight in the short-tailed fruit bat (Carollia perspicillata): comparing theory with measurement." Journal of The Royal Society Interface, vol. 11, no. 95, 2014, pp. 20140147-20140147.|
|Curet, O. M., Swartz, S. M., Breuer, K. S. "An aeroelastic instability provides a possible basis for the transition from gliding to flapping flight." Journal of The Royal Society Interface, vol. 10, no. 80, 2013, pp. 20120940-20120940.|
|Bahlman JW, Swartz SM, Breuer KS. "Design and characterization of a multi-articulated robotic bat wing." Bioinspiration & biomimetics, vol. 8, no. 1, 2013, pp. 016009.|
|von Busse R, Swartz SM, Voigt CC. "Flight metabolism in relation to speed in Chiroptera: testing the U-shape paradigm in the short-tailed fruit bat Carollia perspicillata." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 216, no. Pt 11, 2013, pp. 2073-80.|
|Swartz, Sharon M. "Flying Squirrels and Their Ilk: Art and Science for the Coffee Table." J Mammal Evol, vol. 21, no. 2, 2013, pp. 269-270.|
|Skulborstad, A. J., Wang, Y., Davidson, J. D., Swartz, S. M., Goulbourne, N. C. "Polarized Image Correlation for Large Deformation Fiber Kinematics." Exp Mech, vol. 53, no. 8, 2013, pp. 1405-1413.|
|Harper CJ, Swartz SM, Brainerd EL. "Specialized bat tongue is a hemodynamic nectar mop." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 110, no. 22, 2013, pp. 8852-7.|
|Wang, Y., Son, S., Swartz, S.M., Goulbourne, N.C. "A mixed Von Mises distribution for modeling soft biological tissues with two distributed fiber properties." International Journal of Solids and Structures, vol. 49, no. 21, 2012, pp. 2914-2923.|
|Hubel TY, Hristov NI, Swartz SM, Breuer KS. "Changes in kinematics and aerodynamics over a range of speeds in Tadarida brasiliensis, the Brazilian free-tailed bat." Journal of The Royal Society Interface, vol. 9, no. 71, 2012, pp. 1120-30.|
|Bahlman JW, Swartz SM, Riskin DK, Breuer KS. "Glide performance and aerodynamics of non-equilibrium glides in northern flying squirrels (Glaucomys sabrinus)." Journal of The Royal Society Interface, vol. 10, no. 80, 2012, pp. 20120794.|
|Iriarte-Diaz J, Riskin DK, Breuer KS, Swartz SM. "Kinematic Plasticity during Flight in Fruit Bats: Individual Variability in Response to Loading." PLoS ONE, vol. 7, no. 5, 2012, pp. e36665.|
|JA Franck, S Swartz, K Breuer. "Large-Eddy Simulations of a Flapping Plate." 50th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting including the New Horizons Forum and Aerospace Exposition, 2012.|
|Riskin, D. K., Bergou, A., Breuer, K. S., Swartz, S. M. "Upstroke wing flexion and the inertial cost of bat flight." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, vol. 279, no. 1740, 2012, pp. 2945-2950.|
|Bergou, Attila J., Swartz, Sharon, Breuer, Kenneth, Taubin, Gabriel. "3D reconstruction of bat flight kinematics from sparse multiple views." 2011 IEEE International Conference on Computer Vision Workshops (ICCV Workshops), 2011.|
|Curet, Oscar, Swartz, Sharon, Breuer, Kenneth. "A Self-Excited Flapping Wing: Lift, Drag and the Implications for Biological Flight." 41st AIAA Fluid Dynamics Conference and Exhibit, 2011.|
|MacAyeal, L. C., Riskin, D. K., Swartz, S. M., Breuer, K. S. "Climbing flight performance and load carrying in lesser dog-faced fruit bats (Cynopterus brachyotis)." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 214, no. 5, 2011, pp. 786-793.|
|Willis, David, Bahlman, Joseph, Breuer, Kenneth, Swartz, Sharon. "Energetically Optimal Short-Range Gliding Trajectories for Gliding Animals." AIAA Journal, vol. 49, no. 12, 2011, pp. 2650-2657.|
|Breuer, Kenny, Schunk, Cosima, Bahlman, Joseph, Swartz, Sharon. "Measurement of the wake behind a bat-like flapper and the influence of the flapping frequency on lift generation." 6th AIAA Theoretical Fluid Mechanics Conference, 2011.|
|Li, Guangxia, Bragdon, Andrew C., Pan, Zhigeng, Zhang, Mingmin, Swartz, Sharon M., Laidlaw, David H., Zhang, Chaoyang, Liu, Hanyu, Chen, Jian. "VisBubbles." SIGGRAPH Asia 2011 Posters on - SA '11, 2011.|
|Iriarte-Diaz, J., Riskin, D. K., Willis, D. J., Breuer, K. S., Swartz, S. M. "Whole-body kinematics of a fruit bat reveal the influence of wing inertia on body accelerations." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 214, no. 9, 2011, pp. 1546-1553.|
|Chen, Jian, Riskin, Daniel K., Hubel, Tatjana Y., Willis, David, Song, Arnold, Liu, Hanyu, Breuer, Kenneth, Swartz, Sharon M., Laidlaw, David H. "Exploration of bat wing morphology through a strip method and visualization." ACM SIGGRAPH 2010 Talks on - SIGGRAPH '10, 2010.|
|Riskin DK, Iriarte-Díaz J, Middleton KM, Breuer KS, Swartz SM. "The effect of body size on the wing movements of pteropodid bats, with insights into thrust and lift production." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 213, no. 23, 2010, pp. 4110-22.|
|Middleton KM, Goldstein BD, Guduru PR, Waters JF, Kelly SA, Swartz SM, Garland T Jr. "Variation in within-bone stiffness measured by nanoindentation in mice bred for high levels of voluntary wheel running." J. Anat., vol. 216, no. 1, 2010, pp. 121-31.|
|Hubel, T. Y., Riskin, D. K., Swartz, S. M., Breuer, K. S. "Wake structure and wing kinematics: the flight of the lesser dog-faced fruit bat, Cynopterus brachyotis." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 213, no. 20, 2010, pp. 3427-3440.|
|Riskin DK, Bahlman JW, Hubel TY, Ratcliffe JM, Kunz TH, Swartz SM. "Bats go head-under-heels: the biomechanics of landing on a ceiling." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 212, no. Pt 7, 2009, pp. 945-53.|
|Willis, David, Bahlman, Joseph, Breuer, Kenneth, Swartz, Sharon. "Energetically Optimal Flight Trajectories for Short Range Gliding Animals." 27th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference, 2009.|
|Hubel, Tatjana Y., Hristov, Nickolay I., Swartz, Sharon M., Breuer, Kenneth S. "Time-resolved wake structure and kinematics of bat flight." Exp Fluids, vol. 46, no. 5, 2009, pp. 933-943.|
|Waldman, Rye, Song, Arnold, Riskin, Daniel, Swartz, Sharon, Breuer, Kenneth. "Aerodynamic Behavior of Compliant Membranes as Related to Bat Flight." 38th Fluid Dynamics Conference and Exhibit, 2008.|
|Kunz TH, Gauthreaux SA Jr, Hristov NI, Horn JW, Jones G, Kalko EK, Larkin RP, McCracken GF, Swartz SM, Srygley RB, Dudley R, Westbrook JK, Wikelski M. "Aeroecology: probing and modeling the aerosphere." Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 48, no. 1, 2008, pp. 1-11.|
|Swartz SM, Breuer KS, Willis DJ. "Aeromechanics in aeroecology: flight biology in the aerosphere." Integrative and Comparative Biology, vol. 48, no. 1, 2008, pp. 85-98.|
|Song, A., Tian, X., Israeli, E., Galvao, R., Bishop, K., Swartz, S., Breuer, K. "Aeromechanics of Membrane Wings with Implications for Animal Flight." AIAA Journal, vol. 46, no. 8, 2008, pp. 2096-2106.|
|Swartz SM, Middleton KM. "Biomechanics of the bat limb skeleton: scaling, material properties and mechanics." Cells, tissues, organs, vol. 187, no. 1, 2008, pp. 59-84.|
|Riskin, D., Iriarte-Diaz, J., Middleton, K., Breuer, K., Swartz, S. "Effects of body size on the wing kinematics of bats." Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, vol. 150, no. 3, 2008, pp. S78.|
|Hubel, Tatjana, Song, Arnold, Breuer, Kenneth, Swartz, Sharon. "Kinematics and Aerodynamics of Bat Flight." 38th Fluid Dynamics Conference and Exhibit, 2008.|
|Iriarte-Díaz J, Swartz SM. "Kinematics of slow turn maneuvering in the fruit bat Cynopterus brachyotis." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 211, no. Pt 21, 2008, pp. 3478-89.|
|Willis, David, Persson, Per Olof, Israeli, Emily, Peraire, Jaime, Swartz, Sharon, Breuer, Kenneth. "Multifidelity Approaches for the Computational Analysis and Design of Effective Flapping Wing Vehicles." 46th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, 2008.|
|Riskin DK, Willis DJ, Iriarte-Díaz J, Hedrick TL, Kostandov M, Chen J, Laidlaw DH, Breuer KS, Swartz SM. "Quantifying the complexity of bat wing kinematics." Journal of Theoretical Biology, vol. 254, no. 3, 2008, pp. 604-15.|
|Keefe DF, Acevedo D, Miles J, Drury F, Swartz SM, Laidlaw DH. "Scientific sketching for collaborative VR visualization design." IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, vol. 14, no. 4, 2008, pp. 835-47.|
|Song, Arnold, Tian, Xiaodong, Israeli, Emily, Galvao, Ricardo, Bishop, Kristin, Swartz, Sharon, Breuer, Kenneth. "The Aero-Mechanics of Low Aspect Ratio Compliant Membrane Wings, with Applications to Animal Flight." 46th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, 2008.|
|Middleton KM, Shubin CE, Moore DC, Carter PA, Garland T Jr, Swartz SM. "The relative importance of genetics and phenotypic plasticity in dictating bone morphology and mechanics in aged mice: evidence from an artificial selection experiment." Zoology (Jena, Germany), vol. 111, no. 2, 2008, pp. 135-47.|
|Hubel, T., Breuer, K., Song, A., Swartz, S. "Wing motion and wake structure of bat flight." Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, vol. 150, no. 3, 2008, pp. S77.|
|Willis, David, Israeli, Emily, Persson, Per-Olof, Drela, Mark, Peraire, Jaime, Swartz, Sharon, Breuer, Kenny. "A Computational Framework for Fluid Structure Interaction in Biologically Inspired Flapping Flight." 25th AIAA Applied Aerodynamics Conference, 2007.|
Willis, D. J., M. Kostandov, D. K. Riskin, J. Peraire, D. H. Laidlaw, S. M. Swartz, K. S. Breuer.
"Modeling the flight of a bat: First Place, Informational Graphics, International Visualization Competition." Science, vol. 317, 2007, pp. 1860.
|Swartz, Sharon, Iriarte-Diaz, Jose, Riskin, Daniel, Tian, Xiaodong, Song, Arnold, Breuer, Kenneth. "Wing Structure and the Aerodynamic Basis of Flight in Bats." 45th AIAA Aerospace Sciences Meeting and Exhibit, 2007.|
|Tian, Xiaodong, Iriarte, Jose, Middleton, Kevin, Galvao, Ricardo, Israeli, Emily, Roemer, Abigail, Sullivan, Allyce, Song, Arnold, Swartz, Sharon, Breuer, Kenneth. "Direct Measurements of the Kinematics and Dynamics of Bat Flight." 36th AIAA Fluid Dynamics Conference and Exhibit, 2006.|
|Tian X, Iriarte-Diaz J, Middleton K, Galvao R, Israeli E, Roemer A, Sullivan A, Song A, Swartz S, Breuer K. "Direct measurements of the kinematics and dynamics of bat flight." Bioinspiration & biomimetics, vol. 1, no. 4, 2006, pp. S10-8.|
|Galvao, Ricardo, Israeli, Emily, Song, Arnold, Tian, Xiaodong, Bishop, Kristin, Swartz, Sharon, Breuer, Kenneth. "The Aerodynamics of Compliant Membrane Wings Modeled on Mammalian Flight Mechanics." 36th AIAA Fluid Dynamics Conference and Exhibit, 2006.|
|Pivkin, I. V., Hueso, E., Weinstein, R., Laidlaw, D. H., Swartz, S., Karniadakis, G. E. "Simulation and Visualization of Air Flow Around Bat Wings During Flight." Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2005, pp. 689-694.|
|Sobel, J.S., Forsberg, A.S., Laidlaw, D.H., Zeleznik, R.C., Keefe, D.F., Pivkin, I., Karniadakis, G.E., Richardson, P., Swartz, S. "Feature article - Particle flurries synoptic 3d pulsatile flow visualization." IEEE Comput. Grap. Appl., vol. 24, no. 2, 2004, pp. 76-85.|
|Sobel JS, Forsberg AS, Laidlaw DH, Zeleznik RC, Keefe DF, Pivkin I, Karniadakis GE, Richardson P, Swartz S. "Particle flurries: synoptic 3D pulsatile flow visualization." IEEE Comput. Grap. Appl., vol. 24, no. 2, 2004, pp. 76-85.|
|Weinstein, R., Hueso, E., Pivkin, I., Swartz, S., Laidlaw, D. H., Karniadakis, G., Breuer, K. "Simulation and visualization of flow around bat wings during flight." ACM SIGGRAPH 2004 Posters on - SIGGRAPH '04, 2004.|
|Hueso, E., Pivkin, I., Swartz, S., Laidlaw, D.H., Karniadakis, G., Breuer, K. "Visualization of Vortices in Simulated Airflow around Bat Wings During Flight." IEEE Visualization 2004, 2004.|
|Watts P, Mitchell EJ, Swartz SM. "A computational model for estimating the mechanics of horizontal flapping flight in bats: model description and validation." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 204, no. Pt 16, 2001, pp. 2873-98.|
|Swartz SM, Parker A, Huo C. "Theoretical and empirical scaling patterns and topological homology in bone trabeculae." Journal of Experimental Biology, vol. 201, no. Pt 4, 1998, pp. 573-90.|
|Swartz SM. "Allometric patterning in the limb skeleton of bats: Implications for the mechanics and energetics of powered flight." Journal of Morphology, vol. 234, no. 3, 1997, pp. 277-294.|
Swartz, S. M., M. D. Groves*, H. D. Kim* and W. R. Walsh.
"Mechanical properties of bat wing membrane skin: aerodynamic and mechanical functions." Journal of Zoology, London, vol. 239, 1996, pp. 357-378.
Papadimitriou, H. M. *, S. M. Swartz, and T. H. Kunz.
"Ontogenetic and anatomic variation in mineralization of the wing skeleton of the Mexican free-tailed bat, Tadarida brasiliensis." Journal of Morphology, vol. 234, 1996, pp. 111-123.
|Anton SC, Jaslow CR, Swartz SM. "Sutural complexity in artificially deformed human (Homo sapiens) crania." Journal of Morphology, vol. 214, no. 3, 1992, pp. 321-32.|
|Swartz SM, Bennett MB, Carrier DR. "Wing bone stresses in free flying bats and the evolution of skeletal design for flight." Science, vol. 359, no. 6397, 1992, pp. 726-9.|
|Bertram JE, Swartz SM. "The 'law of bone transformation': a case of crying Wolff?." Biological reviews of the Cambridge Philosophical Society, vol. 66, no. 3, 1991, pp. 245-73.|
|Swartz SM, Bertram JE, Biewener AA. "Telemetered in vivo strain analysis of locomotor mechanics of brachiating gibbons." J. Geophys. Res., vol. 342, no. 6247, 1989, pp. 270-2.|
|Biewener AA, Swartz SM, Bertram JE. "Bone modeling during growth: dynamic strain equilibrium in the chick tibiotarsus." Calcified tissue international, vol. 39, no. 6, 1986, pp. 390-5.|
Animals move through their environments in myriad ways, influencing all aspects of their natural history. These patterns of movement depend on intricate systems of organs and tissues that are amenable to structural and mechanical analyses. The study of locomotor systems can provide an ideal context in which to explore structure/function relationships and the evolution of morphological design.
Structure & Motion of Bat Wings
Biologists have long viewed the flapping wings of flying vertebrates as analogous to the stationary, rigid airfoils of fixed-wing aircraft. But small, slowly moving flying animals experience viscosity effects far greater than even the smallest of aircraft. At this scale, flow over foils becomes turbulent, unsteady, and unpredictable. Basic parameters such as wing aspect ratio, angle of attack, and camber can influence flow patterns and aerodynamic forces in dramatically different ways than in faster flows.
Our lab integrates biological and physical studies of natural and naturalistic flight in living bats, studies of robotic bat wings and simpler physical models, and computational simulations. The methods we have developed to document complex wing motions have helped us show that dynamically changing 3D wing topology is the rule, even in simple straight-line flight. Even more dynamic wing motions are employed in turning and other maneuvers. Our investigations of the material properties of bat wing tissues show that bat wing bones vary greatly in mineral content, so range from highly mineralized and very stiff near the body to nearly cartilaginous and highly compliant at the wing tips. Bat wing skin is also unique, balancing the extreme mechanical demands of flight with the energetic benefits of reducing weight. We have found that the gross architecture of the wing skin collagen-elastin network allows a single wing to encompass an extraordinary range of mechanical characteristics.
Experimental Fluid Dynamics
Adapting techniques from experimental fluid dynamics, we can study wakes made by bats to better understand how these animals produce the forces employed in their distinctive flight. We carry out wind tunnel studies of bat wakes, coupled with detailed kinematics at high temporal and spatial resolution. We have found that the wing movements employed by bats generate characteristic wakes that have similarities with and differences from those of birds and insects. Wake structure can also differ almost as much among bat species as between a bird and a bat of comparable mass.
Our physical modeling experiments capture important aspects of the bat flight apparatus in simplified, abstracted form. Unlike the stiff wings of birds and insects, bats and gliding mammals employ airfoils made of stretchy or compliant material. Our pioneering work in compliant airfoils has demonstrated their remarkable capacity to generate lift at zero and very high angles of attack. We have found that the physical basis for this phenomenon lies in part in the self-cambering ability of compliant airfoils, which facilitates persistence of attached flow in conditions that would cause rigid airfoils to stall.
Our most sophisticated physical models are bat-like robots that capture many aspects of realistic bat flight with high fidelity, but allow us to independently modulate characteristics of the wingbeat in a manner that is impossible in living animals. These experiments help us study force production and flow dynamics, and give us controlled conditions under which we can tease apart the effect of motion and materials on aerodynamics and energetics.
A few years ago, my colleague and friend Tom Kunz paid a visit to me from Boston University. He sat in my office, looked directly at me and announced, grinning, "There are fields called terrestrial ecology and marine ecology. It's time to have Aeroecology." Tom challenged me to help him define what the recognition of such a discipline might mean to those who study animal flight. The physical environment of the aerosphere is both complex and dynamic, and poses many challenges to the locomotor systems of flying animals. For example, airflows are altered and modulated by motion over and around natural and human-engineered structures, and turbulence is introduced by technologies such as aircraft and wind farms. An aeroecological approach can help better understand mechanics, energetics, sensing of aerial flows, and motor control of flight. From this perspective, we can begin to analyze group flight behaviors of bats, as when immense colonies exit caves for evening foraging. In the long run, we aim to link the study of flight behavior in nature to the more carefully controlled studies of flight mechanics and energetics that we carry out in the lab.
National Science Foundation: Collaborative Research: The Rules of Predation: Linking Biomechanics and Ecology in the Bat-Insect Arms Race (co—PI, with A. Corcoran University of Colorado - Colorado Springs, PI and H. Vejdani, Lawrence Technologial University, co-PI). $861K total, Brown University component $257k.
Hyundai Visionary Challenge Part III: Robust Bat-inspired Aerial Robotics. (co-PI with Kenny Breuer) $150K.
Hyundai Visionary Challenge Part II: Robust Bat-inspired Aerial Robotics. (co-PI with Kenny Breuer) $50K.
Brown University Seed Funds Award: “Structure and mechanics of the bat shoulder: Testing a new model for human rotator cuff disorders”. $48K
Hyundai Visionary Challenge Part I: Robust Bat-inspired Aerial Robotics. (Faculty Sponsor, with Student Researchers Alberto Bortoni, Xiaozhou Fan, and Alexander Morris, and co-sponsor Kenny Breuer) $11K.
National Science Foundation: MRI: Acquisition of an Animal Flight and Aeromechanics Wind Tunnel (co-PI, with K. Breuer, School of Engineering, PI). $1,038K.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute: Howard Hughes Medical Institute: HHMI Professorship Finalists STEM Education Development $20K.
Completed Research Grants:
2012-2016 National Science Foundation: National Robotic Initiative/Collaborative Research: Improving the Safety and Agility of Robotic Flight with Bat-Inspired Flexible-Winged Robots (co-PI, with K. Breuer, School of Engineering, co-PI and S. Hutchinson, T. Bretl, S-J. Chung, M. Golparvar-Fard, University of Illinois, co-PIs). $2,000K total, Brown University component $708K.
2012-2016 Air Force Office of Scientific Research: Dynamics of Bat Wing Musculature, from Sensory Information Systems Program (PI, with T. Roberts, co-PI). $1,224K
2011-2016 National Science Foundation: Collaborative Research: Structure and Mechanics of the Bat Wing Membrane, from Directorate for Biology, Integrative Organismal Systems Program (PI, with N. Goulbourne, University of Michigan, co-PI). $404K.
2011-2014 Air Force Office of Scientific Research: Aerodynamics and Mechanics of Flight Robusticity in Bats: Animal Flight and Physical Model Experiments for Flapping MAV Applications, from Flow Interactions and Control Program (PI, with K. Breuer, School of Engineering, co-PI), $517K
2013-2014: Air Force Office of Scientific Research: High Speed Kinematics and Velocimetry Equipment for Biological and Cyber-Physical Studies, Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (co-PI, with K. Breuer, PI and S. Mandre, co-PI, School of Engineering, and T. Roberts, co-PI). $520K
2010-2013: Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Multi University Research Initiatives (MURI): “Supplement to Biologically Inspired Flight for Micro Air Vehicles” (K. Breuer, PI, Co-PI with C. Moss (U. Maryland). $282K
2009-2011: Air Force Office of Scientific Research: “Reconfigurable, Hovering, Ultra-Maneuverable Bat Technologies (RHUMBAT” (co-PI with co-PIs S. Joshi, NextGen Aeronautics, G. Reich, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and N. Goulbourne, Virginia Tech), $750K
2009-2011 Air Force Office of Scientific Research Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (DURIP): “Acquisition of an Advanced Thermal Infrared Imaging System for Tracking Multiple Targets in Three Dimensions” (co-PI with T. Kunz, PI, Boston University). $525K
2008-2011 NSF ADVANCE Career Development Award: “Skins of ‘Bone’: The Mechanics and Structural Design of the Insect Exoskeleton. $20K
2007-2012 Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Multi University Research Initiatives (MURI): “Biologically Inspired Flight for Micro Air Vehicles” (K. Breuer, PI, Co-PI with M. Drela and J. Peraire (MIT), C. Moss (U. Maryland), and B. Batten (Oregon State University). $6,200K
2007-2011 Keck Foundation: “Phase II Proposal: A Proposal to Design and Build a Dynamic Skeletal Imaging System” (PI: E. Brainerd) $1,800K
2007-2010 National Science Foundation: Bat Wing Structure and the Aerodynamic Mechanisms of Flapping Flight. (D. Laidlaw and K. Breuer, co-PIs). $279K
2006 Department of Defense, Defense University Instrumentation Program: “High-speed Motion Analysis and Particle Velocimetry System for Studies in Maneuvering Flight in Bats” (PI, K. Breuer co-PI) $488K
2006 Air Force Office of Scientific Research: “Supplement to Aeromechanics of Highly Maneuverable Bats” (PI, K. Breuer co-PI) $85K
2005-2008 Air Force Office of Scientific Research: “Aeromechanics of Highly Maneuverable Bats”
(PI, K. Breuer co-PI) $450K
2005-2008 National Research Service Award to Kevin Middleton (Sponsor) $100K
2005-2007 National Science Foundation: “DDDAS-TMRP: Interactive Data-driven Flow-simulation Parameter Refinement for Understanding the Evolution of Bat Flight” (D. Laidlaw, PI, co-PI with K. Breuer) $50K
2004-2009 National Science Foundation: "Computational simulation, modeling, and visualization for understanding unsteady bioflows". (co-PI with D. Laidlaw, G. Karniadakis, and P. Richardson) $662K
2004-2006 National Science Foundation: “DISSERTATION RESEARCH: Gliding Aerodynamics and the Origin of Bat Flight” (PI, co-PI graduate student Kristin Bishop) $10K
2004-2005 Brown University Salomon Research Fund: “Aerodynamic mechanisms of bat flight: an integrated multidisciplinary approach (PI with co-PIs K. Breuer and D. Laidlaw); $20K
2002-2003 National Science Foundation, CCLI Program: “Context-Rich Interactive Science Teaching and Learning System” (co-PI with Thomas Webb, III, David Cutts, David Targan, and Nancy Pollard). $74K
2002-2003 NASA Space Grant Scholarship support to undergraduate research student Noa Kay, $3K
2000-2003 National Science Foundation: "Aerodynamics, Wing Biomechanics, and the Evolutionary Diversification of the Chiroptera". (PI) $434K
1997-1999National Science Foundation: "Aerodynamics, Wing Biomechanics, and the Evolutionary Diversification of the Chiroptera". (PI) $73K
1996-1997 National Science Foundation: "The Biomechanics of Bat Flight: Skeletal architecture and functional performance". (PI) $190K
1995-1997 Whitaker Foundation: "New biomechanical approaches to understanding plasticity and functional significance in trabecular bone architecture". (PI)
1995-1996 National Science Foundation: "Development of a variable flow seawater flume and high-speed video imaging system". (co-Investigator with J. Witman and T. Goslow).
1995 The Rhode Island Foundation: "Basic biomechanics of trabecular bone tissue: a novel small animal model". (PI) $152K
1992-1995 National Science Foundation: "The Biomechanics of Bat Flight: Skeletal architecture and functional performance". (PI) $190K
|1988||PhD||University of Chicago|
|1985||MS||University of Chicago|
2014 Elizabeth LeDuc Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Life Sciences
2013 Distinguished Alumni Service Award, The University of Chicago
2013 Selected for NSF Exhibit, AAAS National Meeting
2012 Featured Researcher, Air Force Office of Scientific Research 60th Anniversary Video
2011 Elected Chair, Division of Comparative Biomechanics, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
2010 Karen T. Romer Prize for Excellence in Advising
2009/12 Brown Faculty Advising Fellow
2007 NSF/Science Visualization Contest, First place
2000 Dean's Excellence in Teaching Award, Brown Medical School
1999 American Medical Women's Association Gender Equity Award
1995/99 Marshall, Brown University School of Medicine Commencement Exercises
1992 Mary Putnam-Jacobi Award for the Outstanding Woman Medical Faculty Member, Brown Women in Medicine
1985/86 Harper Memorial Doctoral Fellowship, The University of Chicago
1982/85 Searle Graduate Fellowship, The University of Chicago
1981 Phi Beta Kappa
|Brainerd, Elizabeth||Robert P. Brown Professor of Biology, Professor of Medical Science|
|Breuer, Kenneth||Professor of Engineering|
|Gatesy, Stephen||Professor of Biology, Professor of Medical Science|
|Roberts, Thomas||Vice Chair of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology|
My Teaching focuses on the integration of approaches from the physical and mathematical sciences with organismal and evolutionary biology. Biological Design: The structural architecture of organisms (Bio 0400) uses basic math, physics, and engineering to better understand the materials and structures of a wide diversity of organisms, including animals, plants, and fungi. In Animal Locomotion, I employ a broad appraoch to understanding the ways animals move, including mechanics, energetics, physiology, ecology, and evolution. Although much of the course focuses on vertebrates, we also look at diverse cases from other groups of animals.
|BIOL 0400 - Biological Design: Structural Architecture of Organisms|
|BIOL 1800 - Animal Locomotion|
|BIOL 2440 - Topics in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology|