Article co-authored by MechE professor Justin Jaworski highlighted in national media

Justin Jaworski, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and mechanics, studies the mechanisms of silent owl flight—an area of research that’s providing inspiration for innovation in the design of quieter wind turbines, airplanes, and other forms of technology. 

An article by Jaworski and University of Cambridge professor Nigel Peake, published in the 2020 Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, reviews the current knowledge of aerodynamic noise from owls. The researchers were featured in a technology story, “The silence of the owls,” by Annual Review’s digital publication Knowable Magazine

Reporter Dana Mackenzie writes: 

“Laboratory measurements have shown that the slight swoosh made by a barn owl is below the threshold of human hearing until the owl is about three feet away—a feat of stealth that biologists and engineers are far from completely understanding. But researchers from both disciplines are working to solve the riddle of silent flight—some with the aim of designing quieter fans, turbine blades and airplane wings.”

According to Jaworski and Peake’s paper, the story notes, “such owl-inspired innovations can reduce noise by as much as 10 decibels, similar to the difference in noise between a passing truck and a passing car.”

In 2019, Jaworski received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award in support of his proposal to develop new theoretical models for how edge serrations affect their local fluid flow and acoustic signature. His work in developing a predictive noise framework could help engineers design quieter wind turbines and airplane wings. 

Read the full Knowable Magazine story, which was picked up by multiple national media outlets, here and Jaworski and Peake’s Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics article, “Aeroacoustics of Silent Owl Flight,” here

Justin Jaworski with owl

Assistant professor Justin Jaworski investigates natural and aerospace phenomena involving coupled fluid-structure interactions, vortex dynamics, and noise generation. Photo courtesy of Justin Jaworski