PhD Studentship: Vortex and Wake Interactions in Flapping Foils University of Southampton Department of Engineering United Kingdom

Research Group: Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics

Project Description

The vortex and wake interactions of multiple oscillating foils is critically important in various applications. In biology, these range from propulsive ability and maneuverability of individual insects or animals to optimal group behavior in collective flying/swimming. In Engineering, these interactions are important for performance of traditional aerospace systems, formation flight/swimming of autonomous systems and collective efficiency of flapping energy harvesters. These even have applications in paleontology where marine-reptiles called plesiosaurs used vortex interactions to improve their propulsive efficiency (


There are several important parameters that dictate vortex interactions including the geometry of the foils, their flexibility, their spatio-temporal layout and details of the kinematics. In this project, the goal is to develop fundamental understanding of wake interactions between multiple oscillating foils for some of the above-mentioned parameters by performing high-fidelity experiments in state-of-the-art facilities. You will have the opportunity to design new experiments, record and analyze high-fidelity experimental data acquired using advanced flow diagnostic methods. You will also be able to use new data assimilation and machine-learning tools to optimize the dynamics of vortex and wake interactions of adjacent foils.


This work is part of a larger project funded by US Office of Naval Research and you will be part of a group that has students carrying out numerical simulations of similar problems. This will enable interactions with others working on similar projects and provide an intellectually stimulating environment.


The results of this project are expected to be published in the field’s top journals and the PhD student will have the funding to attend several international conferences.


If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Bharathram Ganapathisubramani, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 59 2305.


Funding and Eligibility

This 3 year studentship covers UK/EU level tuition fees and provides an annual tax-free stipend at the standard EPSRC rate, which is £15,009 for 2019/20. The funding available is competitive and will only be awarded to an outstanding applicant. As part of the selection process, the strength of the whole application is taken into account, including academic qualifications, personal statement, CV and references. For further guidance on funding, please contact


How to Apply

Click here to apply and select the programme - PhD in Engineering and the Environment. Please enter the title of the PhD Studentship in the application form.

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