SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Andrew Dickerson
TIME: Friday, November 16, 2012, 1:00 p.m.
PLACE: Love Building, 109
TITLE: Mosquito Flight Adaptations to Particulate Environments
COMMITTEE: Dr. David Hu, Chair (ME)
Dr. Paul Neitzel (ME)
Dr. Alexander Alexeeve (ME)
Dr. Athanasios Nenes (EAS)
Dr. Robert Dudley (UC Berkeley)


Flying insects routinely cope with challenging conditions such as rainfall, fog, and dew. We propose a combined theoretical and experimental study of their survival mechanisms, using mosquitoes as our model organism. In our preliminary work, we found flying mosquitoes survive raindrop impacts by virtue of their low mass and strong exoskeleton. In this thesis we will investigate the flight dynamics of mosquitoes in heavy fog in which they are capable of generating lift, but unable to maintain stable flight. We hypothesize a mechanism based on the impact of fog drops with specialized, flapping gyroscopes for flight control. We will conduct high-speed videography of interactions of mosquitoes with fog of various concentration to characterize the effects of fog particles on in-flight sensing mechanisms and performance. Lastly, we will investigate the mechanism by which a resting insect removes accumulated dew. Resting insects must remove collected dew and dusk and dawn to achieve efficient locomotion. We hypothesize the take-off and landing of insects generates acceleration sufficient to remove water on the wings and legs. These studies will shed light on the multifunctional abilities of small fliers in particulate environments, and will provide guiding principles for the design of self-cleaning micro-aerial vehicles.