Hungry Fruit Flies are Extreme Ultramarathon Fliers
Michael Dickinson, Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering and Aeronautics; Executive Officer for Biology and Biological Engineering, has discovered that fruit flies can fly up to 15 kilometers (about 9 miles) in a single journey—6 million times their body length, or the equivalent of over 10,000 kilometers for the average human. "The dispersal capability of these little fruit flies has been vastly underestimated. They can travel as far or farther than most migratory birds in a single flight. These flies are the standard laboratory model organism, but they are almost never studied outside of the laboratory and so we had little idea what their flight capabilities were," Dickinson says. [Caltech story]
Professor Dickinson Joins GALCIT Faculty
Professor Michael Dickinson joins the GALCIT faculty as the Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering and Aeronautics. Professor Dickinson has spent the last 25 years creatively pairing physics with biology to probe and understand at a detailed level how animals move, behave and make decisions – work that has advanced a number of divergent fields, ranging from aerodynamics to neuroscience. GALCIT Director Mory Gharib welcomes the potential that Michael brings to GALCIT for collaborating on activities such as development of advanced experimental techniques for unsteady aerodynamic visualizations and measurements; unsteady flight dynamics and characterization of engineering principles underlying biological systems. GALCIT is also looking forward to Professor Dickinson’s involvement in research projects under development in the Center for Autonomous Systems and Technologies (CAST) which is currently under construction in GALCIT.