Royal Society University Research Fellow
Senior Retained Lecturer, Pembroke College
My research interests lie in establishing new techniques for measuring micro-scale, high-speed movements to open windows upon previously hidden biomechanical phenomena. My current work uses insect flight as a model for understanding complex biomechanical systems. The design of the insect thorax allows tiny vibrations from resonating power muscles to be amplified through the intricate wing hinge into reciprocal motion of the wings. Control is then provided by the vast array of tiny steering muscles, which subtly alter the wing motion and afford insects their incredible manoeuvrability.
My work aims to understand how natural selection has shaped the flight motor in insects, which differs so markedly from those of manmade design, by measuring and modelling their wing kinematics along with the mechanics of the flight muscles in the thorax. This work will therefore influence the design of unmanned-air vehicles and also have applications in smart structures, biomaterials and micro-actuators.
Walker, S. M., Thomas, A. L. R. & Taylor, G. K. (2012). Operation of the alula as an indicator of gear change in hoverflies. J. Roy. Soc. Interface 9(71), 1194-1207.
Walker, S. M., Thomas, A. L. R. & Taylor, G. K. (2010). Deformable wing kinematics in free-flying hoverflies. J. Roy. Soc. Interface 7(42), 131-142.
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 (G8), 855-864.
Young, J., Walker, S. M., Bomphrey, R. J., Taylor, G. K. & Thomas, A. L. R. (2009). Details of insect wing design and deformation enhance aerodynamic function and flight efficiency. Science. 325, 1549-1552.
Walker, S. M., Thomas, A. L. R. & Taylor, G. K. (2009). Deformable wing kinematics in the desert locust: how and why do camber, twist and topography vary through the stroke? J. Roy. Soc. Interface 6(38), 735-747.
Bomphrey, R. J., Walker, S. M. & Taylor, G. K. (2009). The typical flight performance of blowflies: Measuring the normal performance envelope of Calliphora vicina using a novel corner-cube arena. PLoS ONE. 4(11), e7852
Walker, S. M., Thomas, A. L. R. & Taylor, G. K. (2009). Photogrammetric reconstruction of high-resolution surface topographies and deformable wing kinematics of tethered locusts and free-flying hoverflies. J. Roy. Soc. Interface 6(33), 351-366.
Taylor, G. K., Bacic, M., Bomphrey, R., Carruthers, A., Gillies, J., Walker. S. M. and Thomas, A. L. R. (2007). New experimental approaches to the biology of flight control systems. J.Exp. Biol. 211, 258-266.