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Cornell University

Z. Jane Wang Research Projects

We are interested in understanding life in fluids. A current question we ask is 'why does a living organism move the way it does?' The organism's movement is in part dictated by physics, and in another part by the organism's response to its own movement.

We have been seeking mechanistic explanations for the complex movement of insect flight. To understand insect flight, we started from the outer scale, solving the Navier-Stokes equations coupled to the wing motions, analyzing the unsteady aerodynamics of flapping flight, and are gradually working toward the inner scale, deducing the actuations and control algorithms. In this approach, the physics of flight informs us about the internal control or 'computing' scheme for a specific behavior.

We use computers, theoretical analyses, and table-top experiments to unravel the essential mechanisms and acquire intuitions about these systems.