Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Centres: Structure & Motion Laboratory

Nathan was a member of Richard Bomphrey's team at the Oxford Flight Group, part of the Zoology Department at Oxford University and, together with his colleague, Toshiyuki Nakata, has accompanied Richard to a new role at The RVC.

Nathan obtained his undergraduate degree in Aerospace Engineering from Ryerson University in Toronto Canada. Following this he moved to the UK and completed a PhD at Cranfield University in insect-like flapping wing aerodynamics. To facilitate experiments for his PhD he designed and developed a mechanical device capable of replicating insect-like flapping wing motions up to 20Hz flapping frequencies while also enabling the wing motion to be altered. This device is the only one of its kind and has resulted in the granting of a patent (UK Patent GB2464147) for the design of the novel flapping mechanism. The successful development of this device enabled a parametric study investigating the effect of various kinematic parameters (i.e. flapping frequency, stroke amplitude, angle of attack etc.) on the mean lift and flow structures produced. Nathan's PhD work has resulted in a number of journal publications, conference papers, and a number of awards including the Kings Norton Medal for the most outstanding doctoral student (Cranfield University), the George Stephenson Gold Medal (IMechE) and the Kenneth Harris James prize (IMechE) for outstanding paper.

Nathan's first Post-doctoral position based at Cranfield University was concerned with the development of prototype Flapping-wing Micro Air Vehicles (FMAVs) that would enable roll, pitch and yaw control for the purpose of investigating control strategies. For this he devised and implemented a universal joint-type wing hinge that would couple an oscillating drive input to each of the wings while simultaneously allowing the stroke plane of each wing to be independently tilted in two directions thereby giving roll, pitch and yaw control.

In Nathan's current Post-doctoral position investigating the relation between wing morphology and performance, he is currently investigating the particular effects of wing aspect ratio and wing petiolation (the extent to which the wing base begins from the centre of rotation) on forces and flow structures.

Nathan is a Post-doctoral Research Assistant funded by a New Directions for EPSRC research grant through Dr. Richard Bomphrey. Nathan’s research interests include i) the biomimicry of insect-like flapping wing flight, namely, how to achieve and mimic insect-like flapping wing motion mechanically by engineering means; ii) the effect of flapping kinematics on lift production and the formation of the lift-augmenting leading-edge vortex (LEV); and his current research focus iii) how wing morphology affects the performance of an insect-like flapping wing in terms of lift generation, power required, and the effects on associated flow structures, particularly, the LEV.

Phillips, N., and Knowles, K., “Formation of vortices and spanwise flow on an insect-like flapping wing throughout a flapping half cycle,” Aeronautical Journal, Vol. 177, No. 1191, 2013, pp. 471-490. (invited paper).

Phillips, N., and Knowles, K., “Positive and negative spanwise flow development on a rotating wing at high angle of attack,” Journal of Aircraft, Vol. 50, No. 5, 2013, pp. 1321-1332.

Phillips, N., and Knowles, K., “Effect of flapping kinematics on the mean lift of an insect-like flapping wing,” Proc. IMechE, Part G, Journal of Aerospace Engineering, Vol. 225, No. 7, pp. 723-736. (invited paper).

Asari, S. A., Phillips, N., Stabler, G., Wilkins, P.C., Zbikowski, R., and Knowles, K., “Experimental investigation of some aspects of insect-like flapping flight aerodynamics for application to micro air vehicles,” Experiments in Fluids, Vol. 46, No.5, 2009, pp. 777 798. (invited paper).

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