The ZSL’s Scientific Awards Committee has awarded the Thomas Henry Huxley Award and Marsh Prize for 2015 to David Labonte, for his outstanding Ph.D thesis ‘Biomechanics of controllable attachment in insects’.
David was supervised by Dr Walter Federle and describes his research with the Insect Biomechanics Workgroup:
'Many insects use tarsal adhesive structures when navigating through complex natural environments. Here, insects rely on the ability to produce sufficient friction and adhesive forces, especially when climbing or walking on inverted substrates. However, excessive friction and adhesion can hamper locomotion and are energetically expensive. How do insects stick but do not get stuck? In my PhD project, I investigate the mechanisms of controllable attachment in insects. To this end, I study the biomechanics and functional morphology of similar attachment pad structures on the same leg which fulfil different functions during locomotion. I hope that this approach will help to reveal general mechanisms of insect adhesion.'
The ZSL Thomas Henry Huxley and Marsh Prize is an annual competition, awarded to a postgraduate research biologist attending university in the UK for original work submitted as a doctoral thesis.