As Professor of Mathematical Biology in the Department of Biology, I lead the research of the Oxford Flight Group. Trained as a biologist, but working at the crossover of biology with engineering, my research focuses on problems in guidance, navigation, and control, with projects spanning birds, bats, insects, and autonomous systems. I work closely with government and industry to deliver technological impact from our research.
My research aims to identify – and understand – the fundamental organizational principles that emerge from the interaction of physics and physiology which characterizes all life. My work is characterised by its combination of experimental, computational, and theoretical approaches, which provide a formal systems-level understanding of the organisms we study. My newest research uses machine learning, video rendering, and AI to provide a novel framework for answering fundamental biological questions, in a form ready for technological application.
My research interests in Sensory Physiology and Evolutionary Biomechanics are reflected in my teaching interests, which range from Mass Extinction, through the Origin and Evolution of Tetrapods, to Animal Behaviour and Physiology.
Beyond my own research and teaching, I serve as Deputy Head of the Mathematical, Physical and Life Sciences (MPLS) Division, one of four academic divisions at Oxford. My portfolio includes responsibility for our science estate, with a focus on capital planning, strategic research intiatives with business, and the development of several new Innovation Districts. I also serve as Director of the John Krebs Field Station, Wytham.
Most of my recent research described on this website has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (Grant Agreement No. 682501) on Project HawkEye.
Adrian is Professor of Biomechanics, and Founder and CEO of the Oxford Flight Group's first spinout company, Animal Dynamics.
I have spent over 10 years studying animal behaviour, and joined the Oxford Flight group in 2011. I have always been fascinated by birds, and after completing my DPhil on the attack strategies of birds of prey (including training my first Harris' hawk!), I took up the position of Postdoctoral Research Assistant in bird flight on the HawkEye project in 2016. My research uses computational modelling to analyse empirical data on the guidance strategies of Peregrine Falcons, Gyr Falcons and Harris' Hawks intercepting artificial targets and wild prey. So far, I have used onboard instrumentation and high-speed photogrammetry to measure their flight trajectories in the field. My future work will predominantly use a motion capture system indoors and outdoors, for filming more intricate details of the pursuit flights of Harris' hawks, and to determine how they implement their guidance strategy visually. In my spare time, I pursue my passion for birds as a C-permit ringing volunteer on behalf of the BTO. I also love to visit nature reserves and head to the hills with my mountain bike!
My research is on bird flight, currently as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant on the HawkEye project focusing on how birds manoeuvre around and between obstacles. I have a broad interest in flying animals (insect, bats, birds, pterosaurs, etc.) and the morphological adaptations that have evolved to achieve unique flight mechanics. After completing my studies in aerospace engineering (aerodynamics), I found my way to this fascinating interface where biology and physics meet. For my PhD in Lund, I looked at the aerodynamics of bird flight, particularly in the wake of a jackdaw that I trained to fly in a wind tunnel. I am very fortunate to be given the opportunity to continue studying animal flight from up close, capturing the detailed movements of Harris' Hawks flying in our flight arena.
Leonidas was a DPhil student and Natural Motion Scholar in the Oxford Flight Group, and is now a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow researching song production in cicadas and their relatives, based in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.
Lydia was a DPhil Student in the Oxford Flight Group, supported by the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP. Having first progressed to a post-doc position in the group, she is now a Data Research Scientist at the Alan Turing Institute.
Sofía is a DPhil Student on the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP working on bio-inspired obstacle avoidance. She did her internship at DeepMind, and is about to take up a position as a Research Software Engineer at University College, London.
Natalia is a DPhil Student in the Oxford Flight Group, supported by the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP. Her thesis focuses on the role of vision in obstacle avoidance and gap negotiation in birds and fish. Outside her DPhil, she strives to continue creating impact through science by getting involved with STEM outreach activities, and deep science innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly through her work at Panacea Innovation.
James is a DPhil student and Christopher Welch Scholar in the Oxford Flight Group. His thesis explores visually-guided flight behaviours in birds, from dynamic soaring to prey pursuit, analysing the role of different frames of reference in structuring these behaviours.
James is a DPhil student and Natural Motion Scholar in the Oxford Flight Group. His research considers the use of head movements to stabilise gaze during aerial pursuit, using precision GPS devices and other onboard sensors.
Alix is a DPhil student in the Oxford Flight Group, working on bio-inspired deep networks for computer vision inspired by the fly brain on a DSTL-funded research studentship.
Emma is a DPhil student in the Oxford Flight Group, working on the learning of flight behaviours in zebra finches, supported by the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP.
Kyu Min is a DPhil student in the Oxford Flight Group, working on the ontogeny and effects of morphology on avian flight performance in the natural environment, supported by the NERC Environmental Science DTP.
Robin Mills is a PhD student at the University of Groningen, who worked as an academic visitor and research assistant in the Oxford Flight Group on the guidance and control of aerial hunting by raptors.
Kiran is an MBiol student in the Oxford Flight Group, working on the effect of wing morphing on flight stability in hawks, using motion capture of real and model birds.
Dan was an academic visitor who worked in the Oxford Flight Group as a visiting research student. He went directly on from this to become founder and CEO of Huma, a London-based global healthcare company operating across four continents.
Richard was a DPhil student, post-doc, and independent research fellow in the Oxford Flight Group. He is now Professor of Biomechanics at the Royal Veterinary College.
Shane was a post-doc in the Oxford Flight Group. He is now Associate Professor of Bio-Inspired Aerodynamics at the University of Bristol, Department of Aerospace Engineering.
Simon was a DPhil student, post-doc, and independent research fellow in the Oxford Flight Group. He is now a University Academic Fellow in Biomechanics at the University of Leeds, Faculty of Biomedical Sciences.
Indira Nagesh is a control engineer who worked as a post-doc in the Oxford Flight Group to understand the control architecture of flies. Indira now works on space applications at a company based in Harwell.
Inés Dawson worked in the Oxford Flight Group as a DPhil Student on the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP researching the biomechanics of insect flight. She creates engaging videos and articles on her website, Draw Curiosity, and on her two YouTube channels, Draw Curiosity and Inés-table, in order to make science stories interesting and internationally accessible. She is also an enthusiastic and engaging speaker on stage who enjoys informing and entertaining audiences of all ages and nationalities about different aspects of science. In addition to her personal science communication work, she has also collaborated with the BBC, Discovery, Merck, Órbita Laika and Naukas to help put a human face on scientific research.
Jonny worked in the Oxford Flight Group as a BBSRC-EPSRC funded DPhil Student studying the biomechanics of the insect flight motor. Jonny now works for the Oxford Flight Group's first spinout, Animal Dynamics.
James worked in the Oxford Flight Group as a DPhil Student on the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP, and as a research assistant studying visual guidance in birds. After a spell as a management consultant, he now works for a drone startup working on vaccine delivery in Australia.
Fergus worked in the Oxford Flight Group as a DSTL-funded DPhil Student studying flow sensing in insect flight. He is now Assistant Manager of Troy Income & Growth Trust and the Trojan Income Fund.
Tonya worked in the Oxford Flight Group as a visiting Master's student and BBSRC-EPSRC funded DPhil Student studying the use of vision in insect flight control. Tonya now works as Academic Project Manager in the Swiss Center for Drones and Robotics at the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS).
Kate worked in the Oxford Flight Group as a BBSRC-funded DPhil Student studying soaring flight in birds. Kate now works for the Oxford Flight Group's first spinout, Animal Dynamics.
James worked in the Oxford Flight Group as an EPRSC-funded DPhil Student studying wing-morphing and gust response in birds. He is now a partner in Bain's Advanced Manufacturing and Services practice, based in London.
Yukie worked in the Oxford Flight Group as a DPhil Student studying bird vision. She went on to work for Nature Publishing Group.
We welcome enquiries from prospective doctoral students and independent research fellows. All of our current doctoral students are funded either by the BBSRC Interdisciplinary Bioscience DTP, or by one of a number of scholarships offered by the University of Oxford and the Department of Zoology. Please contact Prof. Graham Taylor to discuss possible funding opportunities.
We have no open employment opportunities in the research team at present, but are happy to retain the contact details of prospective applicants, should you wish to register an interest in being informed of future opportunities.
We regret that we are unable to accept applications for internships at the present time, and may be unable to respond to all enquiries regarding these.