Jason T Vance
BSc (2000, University of Oregon)
MSc (2003, University of Nevada, Las Vegas)
Ph.D. Graduate Student
I earned my BSc in Exercise
and Movement Science (now: Human Physiology) and MSc in Kinesiology
John Mercer, where I studied loci of attenuation of impact shock
during running. My research interests focus on the biomechanics
of locomotion, which lead me to an opportunity for doctoral studies
with Dr. Stephen Roberts in Biological
Sciences at UNLV. I currently study the kinematics, biomechanics,
and aerodynamics which underlie insect flight; specifically, I am
working to describe the strategies employed by honey bees (Apis
mellifera) to accommodate aerodynamic challenges.
How do Hovering Insects Augment Aerodynamic Force Production?
The flapping aerofoils of hovering insects produce aerodynamic force
through several mechanisms, which include delayed stall, rotational
lift, and wake capture. These non-steady aerodynamics have only
recently been elucidated in the small fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster),
and the predominance of certain aerodynamic mechanisms appear to
differ across species. The European honeybee, Apis mellifera, is
an ideal model for the study of insect flight within the context
of aerodynamic challenges as they demonstrate impressive aerodynamic
reserve capacity above that required for normal hovering during
tasks such as: rapid ascension, pollen, nectar, and water-borne
flight, and undertaking (picking up a dead bee, flying off and dropping
it away from the hive).
Currently, my research investigates honeybee hovering within the
context of changes in atmospheric density and temperature. I use
mixtures of Nitrogen, Helium, Sulfur Hexafluoride and Oxygen to
create hypo, hyper, and normodense atmospheres relative to sea level
air, while remaining normoxic. Ambient temperature can also be manipulated
to constrain locomotor performance. Wingbeat frequency is independent
of aerodynamic load but varies inverse to ambient temperature and
is a mechanism of thermoregulation in these small endothermic bees.
By using temperature to constrain wingbeat frequency in conjunction
with variable-density atmospheres, mechanisms that augment aerodynamic
force output can be described.
The purpose of this research is to describe the range of accommodation
strategies available to the honeybee and to elucidate possible gross
physiological and biomechanical limitations (e.g. wingbeat frequency
and/or wing stroke amplitude, respectively). This information is
useful for understanding the aerodynamics that underlie insect flight
in dynamic environments; additionally, this research is applicable
to the design and development of micro-aerial vehicles, which would
benefit from the implementation of locomotor patterns and strategies
that allow hovering flight across altitudinal gradients and/or in
novel atmospheres different than that on Earth.