UW News

April 22, 2021

UW biology professors Jeffrey Riffell, David Perkel awarded research grants from Human Frontier Science Program

Jeffrey Riffell

Malaria mosquitoes, the world’s deadliest creatures, cause 400,000 deaths a year. One of two grants awarded to UW biology professors by the Human Frontier Science Program, or HFSP, will enable a research team including Jeffrey Riffell to study malaria mosquito swarming and mating dynamics to help control swarms and curb disease. The project also aims to explore “novel bio-inspiration” for flight control strategies in aerial robotics research.

The research project is titled “How do malaria mosquitoes swarm and mate? The functional biology of mating swarms.” The three-year HFSP grant is for $1,340,000, evenly divided among four institutions, and lead investigator is Florian Muijres of Wageningen University in the Netherlands.

David Perkel

Biology professor and chair David Perkel is part of a research team that will combine aerospace engineering and neuroscience approaches to study how the sensing properties of a bird wings and feathers that allow them to “‘feel’ their way through the air, coping with challenging gusty wind conditions, to perform aerial maneuvers.

That research project is titled “Feathers as structures and sensors: Understanding mechanosensing in bird flight.” The three-year HFSP grant is for $1,050,000 split among the three institutions, and lead investigator is Shane Windsor of the University of Bristol, in the U.K.

The Human Frontier Science Program, formerly called Young Investigators, is supported by 13 countries and the European Union. The HFSP funds international research teams involving at least two countries, with preference given for intercontinental collaborations.