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Professor Charlie Ellington FRS

Professor Charlie Ellington, FRS

Emeritus Professor of Animal Mechanics

Room S9 Austin Building
Office Phone: 01223 (3)36668


Although based in the Zoology Department, my general interests are in the fields of biomechanics and bioengineering, with a particular fascination for animal flight.

Research Interests

Efforts were originally focused on insect flight, and we spent many frustrating years proving that bumblebees and other insects cannot fly – according to conventional aerodynamics – before discovering that they use a high-lift mechanism that was new to aerodynamics. Since then we have branched out, applying our knowledge to the design of flapping-wing micro air vehicles (MAVs), hummingbird wings and the extinct pterosaurs. Models based on fossil pterosaurs have been tested in windtunnels, and their excellent gliding performance has suggested improvements to the design of sails.

Key Publications

Elimelech, Y. and Ellington, C.P. (2013). Analysis of the transitional flow field over a fixed hummingbird wing. Journal of Experimental Biology 216, 303-318.

Askew, G.N., Tregear, R.T. and Ellington, C.P. (2010) The scaling of myofibrillar actomyosin ATPase activity in apid bee flight muscle in relation to hovering flight energetics. Journal of Experimental Biology 213: 1195-1206.

Floreano, D., Zufferey, J.-C., Srinivasan, M.V. and Ellington, C.P. (eds). (2010). Flying Insects and Robots. Springer.

Other Publications

Wilkinson, M.T., Unwin, D.M. and Ellington, C.P. (2006) High lift function of the pteroid bone and forewing of pterosaurs. Proc. R. Soc. Lond. B 273, 119-126.

Hedenström, A., Ellington, C.P. and Wolf, T.J. (2001). Wing wear, aerodynamics and flight energetics in bumblebees (Bombus terrestris): an experimental study. Functional Ecology 15, 417-422.

Ellington, C.P. (1999). The novel aerodynamics of insect flight: applications to micro-air vehicles. Journal of Experimental Biology 202, 3439-3448.

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