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Lab on a Bird Project


LoB-schematicIn a collaborative effort funded by the National Science Foundation, the Lab on a Bird project teamed engineers with biologists to create a tiny “lab” that can be attached to the back of a bird to track its physiology during flight. The goal was to enable researchers to repeatedly sample the physiological state of a freely-moving bird, creating an unprecedented way to study avian hormone function under normal and extreme conditions. 

Engineers and biologists collaborated on micro-scale biosensors and energy harvesters that will open up new ways to monitor and conduct research into the biology of avian flight.


How Do You Put a Lab on a Bird?

How do some birds make epic migratory flights without stopping to refuel? Scientists are itching to find out not just where these birds go, but also how they manage seemingly impossible migratory flights. Imagine a small backpack, powered by wing beats, capable of measuring the metabolism of birds during flight. See how Cornell University engineers and biologists are collaborating to create a miniature system that takes laboratory science on the wing.

Reflections on Being an Engineer

Meet Rashi Tiwari, a former post-doc in Cornell University's Lab of Intelligent Machine Systems. Learn how she became interested in engineering and her approach to solving complex problems. "My favorite part of the research process," she says, "is when things don't work right, and for me, that's the food for my brain." How does she get past research roadblocks? Watch the video for this and other perspectives on being an engineer.

Green Engineering

What is "green engineering"? Former Cornell University graduate students Michael Shafer and Robert MacCurdy describe their interest in solving environmental challenges and share insights about tackling design tasks. As Robert says, "There are a million ways to do something wrong, but there are only a few ways to do something right," but looking to the natural environment can help. As Michael points out, "Nature has done a lot of the things that we want to do, and it does it a lot better than we could ever hope to. So there's a lot of inspiration out there."

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nsf-logoThis material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 1014891. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.