Jolan Thériault

Douglas Altshuler

Research Topic

The functional role of the intrinsic wing muscles and tendons of the pigeon in dynamic wing morphing performed during flapping flight

Research Group

Comparative Physiology group and Biomechanics group

Research Description

Flight is well described in birds, specifically in the muscles that produce the up- and down-stroke during wing flapping. However, relatively little is known about dynamic wing morphing and the muscles that produce it during flight. Wing morphing is defined as shape changes in the wing, such as folding during the upstroke and extension during the down-stroke. Flexing the biceps muscles bends the elbow and folds the wing, while the two triceps muscles are used to extend the elbow, and as a result, the wing. I am interested in determining how pigeons use their triceps muscles to alter their wing shape during flight. Another focus will be on the elasticity of the tendons associated with these muscles. Gaining insight into how the muscles and tendons produce and control wing morphing would provide a higher understanding of flight. Applying this knowledge to biological modelling could revolutionise the future of aircraft design.

Why did you decide to study at UBC?

I chose to study at UBC for a number of reasons; first and foremost was that I found several potential supervisors whose research interests aligned well with my own. The people with whom I communicated, both current and past UBC faculty and students, struck me as very friendly, helpful and caring. This added to my desire to join the UBC research community. Additionally, the school is highly ranked and came strongly recommended: it has many interesting areas of study within my field of interest, and a beautiful campus, among other things.


Why did you decide to pursue a graduate degree?

I decided to pursue graduate studies because I really enjoyed studying different facets of animal physiology and biology. I became particularly drawn to graduate studies after volunteering as a research assistant for a few years and eventually performing my own research during my undergraduate thesis project. I have always wanted to learn as much as I could about animals, not only to further my own knowledge, but to contribute to conservation efforts. I figured that the best way to do so was to find applications for biological models that can potentially reduce human impact. I also believe that my graduate studies will give me a better understanding of animal biology, such that I can then share my knowledge of the subject with the others in hopes that this will inspire them to preserve the environment as well.

What do you like to do for fun or relaxation?

In my spare time I enjoy letting off some steam by playing hockey in a competitive women's hockey league. I also enjoy drawing, hiking, climbing, snowboarding, biking, hanging out on the beach, and checking out all the wildlife in my surroundings.