PhD Research Studentship Flight stability and control with morphing wings: bio-inspiration from bird flight.

The project

When designing the geometry of an aircraft there is a trade-off between making an aircraft maneuverable and giving it stability characteristics which reduce the work load on the pilot. Birds are not necessarily faced with the same trade-off, as they have the potential to completely change the characteristics of their flight dynamics by morphing their wings and tail to suit different conditions. In some conditions birds appear to adopt configurations that are inherently highly unstable and require rapid sensory feedback for flight stabilization. At other times, birds glide through the air without appearing to move their wings at all. This project will quantify the inherent stability of birds adopting different flight configurations and study how birds use wing morphing to control their flight.

By understanding how birds use wing morphing to alter their flight dynamics, we can investigate if such changes in configuration might offer the same advantages for Unmanned Air Vehicles. This project will involve using 3D photogrammetric reconstruction techniques to measure the 3D geometry of birds in flight and the creation of Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) models based on these geometries. These models will then be used to study the stability of different wing configurations adopted by birds and look at how changes in geometry are used for control. This project will also involve wind tunnel testing of models in order to validate the CFD modelling approach.

Candidate requirements

Also Read  Competition Funded PhD Studentship Times series data mining

Essential: A minimum of an upper second (2:1) class honours degree (or equivalent) in computer science, engineering or physics.

Desirable: A basic knowledge of computer vision/image processing and CFD would be very useful.


Studentship covers full UK/EU PhD tuition fees and a tax-free stipend at the EPSRC rate (£13,726 in 2013/14). The studentship could also cover international fees but due to funding restrictions external funding would be required for living costs.

How to apply

Applications should be made online through the Apply link below

Please select Aerospace Engineering (PhD)’ in the Programme Choice section and quote the title of the studentship in the Research Details and Funding sections of the form.

Please ensure that in the Funding section you tick “I would like to be considered for a funding award from the Department” and specify the title of the scholarship in the “other” box below.


If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Dr Shane Windsor

For general enquiries, please email

Deadline for applications

The position will remain open until filled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *