Development of bioinspired robotic flapper

   Faculty of Biological Sciences

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  Dr Simon Walker, Dr Ali Alazmani  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (UK Students Only)

About the Project

This project aims to take a bioinspired approach to develop a novel flapper based on the structure of the insect flight motor. Rotary engines, as seen in most aircraft, operate poorly at small scales due to increased friction and power requirements. The insect flight motor has overcome these challenges through its evolution over 350 million years. They use their deformable exoskeleton to drive their wings through a series of smart flexible linkages.

Recent microCT data means it is now possible to visualise and measure the subtle movements of the insect thorax during flight. These data will be coupled with material characterization to inform the underlying principles behind how insects move their wings. The student will take these concepts to design and build a scaled, novel flapper using a range of modelling, and fabrication methods, including CAD design, 3D printing and soft robotics manufacture.

You will need to bring skills of engineering and biology design and analysis with a willingness to work across disciplines. In return, you will find yourself in a rich environment to learn new multidisciplinary techniques, such as FEA, material characterisation, and CT data visualization, as well as transferable skills such as creativity, communication and critical thinking.


Applicants should have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. A Masters degree is desirable but not essential.

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

How to apply

To apply for this scholarship opportunity applicants should complete an online application form and attach the following documentation to support their application

  • a full academic CV
  • degree certificate and transcripts of marks
  • Evidence that you meet the University's minimum English language requirements (if applicable)

To help us identify that you are applying for this scholarship project please ensure you provide the following information on your application form;

  • Select PhD in Biological Sciences as your programme of study
  • Give the full project title and name the supervisors listed in this advert
  • For source of funding please state you are applying for an EPSRC DTP Studentship

As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Within the Faculty of Biological Sciences we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+; and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability. 

For further information about this scholarship please contact the Faculty Admissions Team

e: [Email Address Removed]

Engineering (12) Medicine (26)

Funding Notes

This studentship is competition funded, and will attract an annual tax-free stipend of £17,668 (2022/23 rate) for up to 3.5 years, subject to satisfactory academic progress. The award will also cover the academic fees at the UK fee rate. Due to limited funding we can only consider applicants for this position who are eligible to pay academic fees at the UK fee rate.

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