Florian Muijres is professor and chair holder of the Experimental Zoology Group at Wageningen University, The Netherlands. He studies the biomechanics and aerodynamics of flying animals, and uses the results as bio-inspiration for developing technical solutions to societal problems. A primality research line in his lab focusses on flight behavior of mosquitoes in the context of integrative disease vector control.
Muijres studied aerospace engineering at TU Delft, where he specialized in aerodynamics. As a PhD candidate at Lund University, Sweden, he studied the aerodynamics of vertebrate flight. As a post-doctoral researcher in the United States, Muijres studied the control and aerodynamics of maneuvering insects flight. In 2014, Muijres started as tenure track researcher at the Experimental Zoology Group at Wageningen University; In 2022, he was appointed professor and chair of his group. As chair, he now leads a highly interdisciplinary research group, in which biologists, physicists and engineers work together to unravel the functional biology of moving animals.
During his PhD studies, Muijres studied the unsteady aerodynamics of animals flight. For this he developed high-tech fluid-dynamics techniques to quantify the airflow around animals flying freely in a wind tunnel. This approach enabled him to show, for the first time, how bats and birds use a specialized unsteady aerodynamic mechanism to fly (Muijres et al. Science 2008). This is now regarded as the most important mechanism that enable hovering in animals and bio-inspired robotic flyers.
For his post-doctoral research, Muijres pioneered the new and highly-active field of maneuvering flight research. One key study hereby is that on the rapid evasive flight maneuvers of fruit flies (Muijres et al. Science 2014). Here, he combined high-speed stereoscopic videography with aerodynamic modelling to unravel the flight control and aerodynamics of these extremely rapid flight maneuvers. This work is relevant for a wide range of scientific fields, including biomechanics, neuro-ethology, aerodynamics, and engineering.
In 2014, Muijres started as a tenure track researcher at the Experimental Zoology Group of Wageningen University, and in 2022 he became the groups chairholder. As Professor of Experimental Zoology, Muijres now educates and works with biologists, physicists and engineers to study the biology and physics of moving animals.
In this context, his core research focusses on the biomechanics and aerodynamics of flying animals, which he studies using a combined experimental and modelling approach. Together with this dedicated interdisciplinary team of experts, he addresses questions like “how do night-flying malaria mosquitoes avoid being swatted?” (Cribellier et al. Current Biology 2022), “how do insects produce unsteady aerodynamic forces with their rapidly beating wings?” (van Veen et al. J. Fluid Mech. 2022), and “are Morpho butterflies optimized for flight efficiency or maneuverability?” (Le Roy et al. Science 2022).
Muijres then uses these research outcomes for developing bio-inspired solutions to technical and societal problems. For example, together with engineers from TU Delft, Muijres develop a highly-maneuverable bio-inspired flying robot (Karasek et al. Science 2018), and with medical entomologists, he developed of a novel and highly-efficient human-mimicking mosquito trap (Cribellier et al. Malaria J. 2020).