Christina Harvey

Christina is a 3rd year PhD student in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering (with a concentration in Aeronautical Engineering) from McGill University. Throughout that degree she worked as an intern at StandardAero Limited supporting the repair and overhaul of Lockheed C130J engines for foreign militaries. After her undergraduate degree, she moved to the University of British Columbia where she pursued a master’s degree in Zoology. During that time, she studied the aerodynamic functionality of the “gull-wing” shape on real gulls. This included observational experiments quantifying the wing shapes used in live gliding flight and a wind tunnel experiment on prepared wing specimens. This work revealed that gulls use lower elbow angles as wind speeds increase to allow them to more easily adjust in gusty wind conditions. She has continued to follow up on that work during her PhD where she is now investigating if the joints in the avian wing could be effectively implemented in UAVs. She hopes that her work inspires a future generation of highly maneuverable aircraft but also that it furthers our fundamental understanding of how birds fly. She is grateful to benefit from the FXB fellowship fund because as a result she is able to follow where the science leads rather than being constrained to work only on the topics that fit within the scope of a specific grant. The flexibility and independence that this affords her is invaluable and will make a large impact on her career trajectory. She hopes to become a faculty member after graduation.

In her free time at the University of Michigan she has become a big fan of road biking but importantly, she has become involved with diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in the aerospace department. It feels as if her and her fellow students can successfully ask for changes in policies within the department and she hopes the graduate level DEI group positively impacts the community and climate, and ensures that the necessary support mechanisms in place to retain all students.