Human Elements: Using bird wings to build better planes

Zoology researcher Vikram Baliga is turning everything we know about flight on its head by studying how birds take to the sky.

Vikram Baliga, research fellow in the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia, studies a bird wing at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Sarah Hoffman/Crosscut)

Vikram Baliga studies anatomy and movement of animals in the Department of Zoology at the University of British Columbia. He examines how birds use their wings to generate force and carry them through the sky. Truly understanding the mechanics requires hands-on study — so Baliga sources bird cadavers from museum collections at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. It sounds morbid, but with a closer look, humans can learn how to build better aircraft or automobiles, using superior natural design informed by millions of years of bird evolution

About the Authors & Contributors