Flocks of birds. Schools of fish. Colonies of ants. Their strength is in numbers as they can fend off larger predators, move faster, and mate more easily. Daphne Klotsa, an applied physicist, studies how these biological swarms function in hopes to improve how humans and automated technologies navigate the world.
Since Fall 2019, Research UNCovered has showcased the many faces of research at Carolina, from undergraduate students to faculty, across all disciplines. So far, the series has featured 54 researchers from 10 schools, three centers and institutes, the North Carolina Botanical Garden, and UNC's research offices.
Frank Leibfarth is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He studies how to transform chemical building blocks into plastics to provide new and useful solutions for sustainability and human health.
Daphne Klotsa is an assistant professor in the Department of Applied Physical Sciences within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. She studies the physics of swarms — systems that exhibit emergent collective and cooperative behavior such as flocks of birds, schools of fish, and crowds of people — in order to engineer similar systems composed of moving parts, from self-propelled nanoparticles in solution to cars in traffic.
Derrick Carr is a PhD student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He searches for rare, compact galaxies called nuggets and strives to understand how they form and evolve.
Esteban Agudo is a PhD student in the Department of Biology within the UNC College of Arts & Sciences. He explores how temperature affects the feeding rates of organisms living on reefs and how this impacts ecosystems like the Galápagos Islands.
Johnny Randall is the director of conservation programs at the North Carolina Botanical Garden. He researches rare plant reintroduction and Venus flytrap genetics as they relate to conservation efforts.
June 1 marked the start of the 2020 hurricane season — and it’s slated to be an active one. In this Q&A, UNC researcher Rick Luettich talks about this year’s above-average hurricane forecast, the impact these storms have on inland populations, and how COVID-19 may affect vulnerable communities.
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a gliding lizard! A first-of-its-kind study by Pranav Khandelwal and Tyson Hedrick went deep into the Indian jungle to capture and analyze the biomechanics behind the death-defying glides of Draco dussumieri.
Professors Allen Hurlbert and Keith Sockman want their students out of the classroom as much as possible. Every other year, the UNC researchers lead an avian biology course that explores the physiology, anatomy, evolution, and behavior of birds. Throughout the semester, the class visits wildlife reserves across the state to see these lessons in the field.