Sonya Tiomkin’s PhD in Aerospace Engineering at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology was inspired by the flexible membrane wings of nature’s most agile flyers—bats. She was able to tie her doctoral research to her employment when she served for several years as a research engineer and group leader of a project investigating the aerodynamics of highly flexible configurations.
Both Dr. Tiomkin’s doctoral and postdoctoral research arose from her belief that novel insights into how nature exploits, and is constrained by, physics can aid in exploring nature-inspired applications for future aviation technologies. At Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, she is a fellow in Mechanical Engineering and Mechanics, a department with a strong international reputation in vortex dynamics, experimental fluid mechanics, and fluid-structure interactions. Her project examines a common method for suppressing aircraft noise—using serrated trailing edges on air vehicle wings. Inspired by the wing edges of silent owl species, the mechanism by which these edges alter noise is still poorly understood, and there is a gap between predictive theory and experimental results. Dr. Tiomkin is developing a novel model for predicting the interaction of the serrated wing trailing edge with vortices that could help explain the mechanism. This would be a significant achievement for science, as well as for solving the practical problem of aircraft noise.