News & Events
Hummingbirds from the Inside Out
Release time:September 9, 2017

Topic: Hummingbirds from the Inside Out  

Date:Sep 11, 09:00~11:00  


Bio of the Speaker:  

Tyson L. Hedrick - Associate Professor/Lab PI in the University of North Carolina Department of Biology

Prof. Hedrick began a Ph.D. in Biology at Harvard University where he worked under Prof. Andrew Biewener at the Concord Field Station. After completing his thesis, Aerodynamics, biomechanics and neuromuscular control of avian flight, he received a Ph.D. in June of 2004. He then worked as a postdoctoral research assistant with Dr. Thomas Daniel at the University of Washington with funding from the National Science Foundation and DARPA. He started his latest job as an Assistant Professor in the University of North Carolina Department of Biology in July, 2007.

His research focuses on how animals produce and control movement. This expands out into a broader interest in the structure and properties of biological networks as well as how they generate robust outputs in the face of uncertain circumstances and components of varying quality. In a more general sense, his lab examines animal flight aerodynamics and flight behavior across the breadth of flying organisms, from tiny parasitic wasps to fruit flies to large birds and bats.


At approximately 2 grams in body mass, hummingbirds are the smallest flying vertebrate and have evolved a number of specializations that enable them to fly more like insects than larger birds. The also possess extraordinary maneuvering capabilities, expressing a more varied repertoire than insects of similar size. Dr. Hedrick and collaborators have used high-speed X-ray and visible light videography to track the movements of the hummingbird skeleton and wings during the stroke cycle, revealing how the avian wing skeleton has been re-purposed to produce an insect flight stroke and providing insight into the scaling of the muscle motor common to all flying animals. This same x-ray videography technique simplifies tracking 3D maneuvers; “typical” and “startle response” turns are examined in detail.