Professor of Biomechanics
Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall
Biomechanics, Aerodynamics and Evolution: the adaptations of animals for aerodynamic and biomechanical performance provide a unique opportunity to analyse evolutionary processes because the optimal designs for particular aspects of performance can often be predicted a priori, and independently of the evolutionary history of the animals involved. I use aerodynamic theory to predict optimal morphologies for specific aspects of flight ecology (flight missions), and test the predictions with phylogenetically controlled comparative methods, with mechanical model organisms, and with free-flying or swimming animals in the laboratory, or in the field.
I am Director of Studies in Biological Sciences at Lady Margaret Hall. I run the animal flight research group in Zoology. I am chairman of the Flight section of the Bionis International Biomimetics Network. I am aerodynamics consultant with Airwave GMBH paraglider, hangglider and ultralight aircraft manufacturers.
- Thomas A.L.R., 2007. Insect flight aerodynamics: structure of the leading edge vortex and selection pressures responsible for the use of high lift aerodynamic mechanisms in insects. In ‘Flow Phenomena in Nature’ Ed. Liebe Roland. WIT press
- Bomphrey, R.J., Lawson, N.J., Taylor, G.K., Thomas, A.L.R 2006. Application of Digital Particle Image Velocimetry to insect aerodynamics: measurement of the leading-edge vortex and wake of Manduca sexta. Experiments in Fluids. DOI 10.1007/s00348-005-0094-5
- Bomphrey, R.J., Lawson, N.J., Taylor, G.K., Thomas, A.L.R. 2006. Digital Particle Image Velocimetry measurements of the downwash distribution of a desert locust Schistocerca gregaria. Journal of the Royal Society: Interface. 3, 311-317. DOI 10.1098/rsif.2005.0090
- Thomas, A.L.R., Taylor, G.K., Srygley R.B., Nudds, R., & Bomphrey, R.J. 2004. Dragonfly flight: free-flight and tethered flow visualizations reveal a diverse array of unsteady lift generating mechanisms, controlled primarily via angle of attack. J. Exp. Biol. 207 4299-4323
- Taylor, G.K., Nudds, R.L. & Thomas, A.L.R. 2003 Flying and swimming animals cruise at a Strouhal number tuned for high power efficiency. Nature, (Lond.) 425. 707-711.