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rbomphrey49
12-08-2010, 07:16 PM
Dear Colleagues,

If you know of any promising UK/EU students looking for a PhD
studentship in bird or insect flight biomechanics, please could you pass
on to them the following advertisement for three fully-funded
studentships in the Oxford Animal Flight Group. Details also at:
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~zool0261/vacancies.html

Many thanks
Richard Bomphrey



Three fully funded studentships available in the Oxford Animal Flight
Group: deadline 21 January 2011

We are pleased to be able to offer up to three fully funded PhD
studentships this year. Please scroll down to see the full advertisement
for each of the three studentships. Please note that the eligibility
criteria and starting dates differ between the three studentships.

1. Vision-based flight control in insects, with applications to unmanned
air vehicles

Supervisors: Dr Graham Taylor; Dr Holger Krapp

Feedback control is essential to the flight of insects and most modern
aircraft, but there the resemblance ends. Aircraft control systems
employ a few high-quality sensors to measure or estimate their current
state with a high degree of accuracy; insects have numerous sensors of
lower quality, which sense changes in state rather than absolute state.
Aircraft control systems typically have their sensors arranged
orthogonally; insects have their sensors arranged non-orthogonally.
Aircraft control systems process state feedback centrally; insects
process signals at the periphery of their nervous system and combine
input from different sensory modalities before using this as feedback.
In light of these differences, it has recently been suggested that the
sensory systems of insects are configured so that they are specifically
tuned to detect excitation of their rigid body modes of motion (Taylor&
Krapp, 2007). The aim of this studentship is to investigate the
mode-sensing hypothesis, by using a combination of theoretical and
experimental approaches, so as to inform the design of control systems
for unmanned air vehicles (UAVs). The hypothesised control architecture
is fundamentally different from the architectures employed in aircraft
control systems, and offers the potential for exploiting noisy and datum
deficient measurements in the feedback control of a Mini/Nano UAV. This
could include, for example, input from sensors measuring optic flow.

The studentship will be held in the Oxford Animal Flight Group,
Department of Zoology, Oxford University (supervisor: Dr Graham Taylor),
but is being run in collaboration with the Insect Neurophysiology Group,
Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College (co-supervisor: Dr Holger
Krapp). The ideal candidate would EITHER have a background in
Engineering or Applied Mathematics and an interest in thinking out of
the box, OR would have a background in Biological Sciences and a
willingness to think mathematically.

To apply please use the online application system at:
http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate_courses/apply/ . Please
remember to quote the studentship reference code GT01. Because you will
be applying for a pre-defined project, please provide a Statement of
Purpose, and not a Research Proposal, at the relevant point in the
application. Please use this statement to explain your specific interest
in the advertised project. You may, if you wish, incorporate material
from this advertisement. Any queries regarding the application procedure
please contact graduate.office@zoo.ox.ac.uk. The closing date is Friday
21st January 2011. The successful candidate will start their studentship
as soon as possible after 13 March 2011, and in any case before the end
of September 2011. The University of Oxford is an Equal Opportunities
employer.

Funding Notes
This is an Industrial CASE studentship, which is being jointly funded by
EPSRC and Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory). In order to
assist recruitment to this position, the industrial component of the
funding will be used to elevate the stipend by £1500 per annum over the
national minimum stipend rate for Research Council studentships.
Eligibility for this studentship is limited to UK nationals only. The
full award is available to UK nationals who meet the UK residency
requirements, while UK students who do not meet the UK residency
requirements are eligible for a studentship covering tuition fees.
Further information can be found at:
http://www.epsrc.ac.uk/funding/students/Pages/eligibility.aspx

Taylor, G. K.& Krapp, H. G. (2007). Sensory systems and flight
stability: what do insects measure, and why? Adv. Insect Physiol., 34,
231-316. doi:10.1016/S0065-2806(07)34005-8


2. Avian flight mechanics: atmospheric energy extraction and gust
response in birds

Supervisors: Dr Graham Taylor; Prof. Adrian Thomas

Birds are masters of their aerial environment. One of their most
impressive accomplishments is their ability to deal with – and even
exploit – atmospheric heterogeneity at small spatial scales. Birds are
able to negotiate the gustiest of conditions, to thermal-soar on days
when a sailplane could not leave the ground, and to ascend vertically
over a cliff edge without once flapping their wings. The mechanistic
detail of how birds accomplish these feats is largely unknown, but
similar sensory, aeroelastic, and muscular mechanisms are likely to be
common to all. The aim of this studentship is to make detailed
measurements of the flight dynamics and flight performance of trained
birds of prey using onboard inertial instrumentation and high-speed
photogrammetry, and to analyse these in combination with information
from onboard pressure sensors and ultrasonic anemometers to understand
how birds deal with and exploit atmospheric heterogeneity. The project
will focus upon three specific behaviours: response to mechanical and
thermal turbulence, exploitation of thermals in cross-country soaring,
and exploitation of wind shear over sea cliffs. The project is intended
foremost to be a study of the flight mechanics of birds, but there are
obvious engineering applications to the flight of Unmanned Air Vehicles,
for which atmospheric energy extraction and gust response properties
modelled on birds would be of great commercial and strategic significance.

To apply please use the online application system at:
http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate_courses/apply/ . Please
remember to quote the studentship reference code DTG6. Because you will
be applying for a pre-defined project, please provide a Statement of
Purpose, and not a Research Proposal, at the relevant point in the
application. Please use this statement to explain your specific interest
in the advertised project. You may, if you wish, incorporate material
from this advertisement. Any queries regarding the application procedure
please contact graduate.office@zoo.ox.ac.uk. The closing date is Friday
21st January 2011. The successful candidate will start their studentship
in October 2011. The University of Oxford is an Equal Opportunities
employer.

Funding Notes:
UK Research Council Competition Funded Studentship. These awards are
available to UK nationals and EU students who meet the UK residency
requirements, while EU students who do not meet the UK residency
requirements are eligible for studentships covering tuition fees.
Further information can be found at:
http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/studentships/studentship_eligibility.pdf

Carruthers, A. C., Thomas, A. L. R.& Taylor, G. K. (2007). Automatic
aeroelastic devices in the wings of a Steppe Eagle Aquila nipalensis. J.
Exp. Biol. 210, 4136-4149. doi:10.1242/jeb.011197

Carruthers, A. C., Walker, S. M., Thomas, A. L. R.& Taylor, G. K.
(2010). Aerodynamics of aerofoil sections measured on a free-flying
bird. Proc. Inst. Mech. Eng. Part G - J. Aerosp. Eng. 224, 855-864.
doi:10.1243/09544100JAERO737


3. Wing shape, kinematics and performance in insect flight

Supervisors: Dr Richard Bomphrey; Prof. Adrian Thomas

This inter-disciplinary project analyses the fundamental features of
insect wing shape and motion that are important for specific ecological
tasks. Research output will constitute the most comprehensive study to
date of how the apparatus for flight manipulates, and is constrained by,
the physical world. The student will follow two themes to explore the
relationship between wing kinematics and flight performance. They will
use (1) high-speed cameras to record detailed topographical wing
kinematics from a range of insects chosen for their contrasting ecology,
and (2) artificial selection to examine the effects of alternative
morphological parameters on performance.

Kinematics: The student will record detailed wing topographies
throughout the wingbeat cycle for representative species. Wing shape and
kinematic data will then be used to identify the morphological and
kinematic variables which are critical for certain ecological roles.
This will be achieved using an existing state-of-the-art photogrammetric
technique developed within the Flight Group. Tests will begin by
quantifying variation across wingbeats within individuals, before
progressing to quantify intra- and inter-specific differences. Finally,
the student will integrate their experimental design with an
EPSRC-funded Postdoc so that aerodynamic output is simultaneously
recorded from experimental subjects.

Artificial selection: The student will select strains of fruit fly for
exaggerated wing parameters (larger area, higher aspect ratio) and
measure consequent changes in performance (speed, load lifting, aerial
agility) within a flight arena. The inverse of the problem will be run
in parallel, i.e. identification of salient performance criteria and
analysis of the kinematic and morphological properties that make them
possible.

Future direction: This work naturally leads to further collaborative
Computational Fluid Dynamics projects (e.g. Young, et al. Science 2009),
and Finite Element modelling projects that could further inform the
design of miniature vehicles. This PhD could also form the foundation
for further work in eco-morphology.

To apply please use the online application system at:
http://www.ox.ac.uk/admissions/postgraduate_courses/apply/ . Please
remember to quote the studentship reference code DTG8. Any queries
regarding the application procedure please contact
graduate.office@zoo.ox.ac.uk. The closing date is Friday 21st January
2011. The successful candidate will start their studentship in October
2011. The University of Oxford is an Equal Opportunities employer.

Funding Notes:
UK Research Council Competition Funded Studentship. These awards are
available to UK nationals and EU students who meet the UK residency
requirements, while EU students who do not meet the UK residency
requirements are eligible for studentships covering tuition fees.
Further information can be found at:
http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/funding/studentships/studentship_eligibility.pdf
http://www.nerc.ac.uk/funding/studentships/studentship_eligibility.pdf

__________________________________________
Dr Graham K. Taylor
Animal Behaviour Research Group
Department of Zoology, Oxford University
Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road
Oxford, OX1 3PS
United Kingdom
tel. +44 (0)1865 271219
fax. +44 (0)1865 310447
http://users.ox.ac.uk/~zool0261

__________________________________________
Dr Richard J. Bomphrey
EPSRC CAF
Animal Behaviour Research Group
Department of Zoology, Oxford University
Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road
Oxford, OX1 3PS
United Kingdom
tel. +44 (0)1865 271224
fax. +44 (0)1865 310447