Edinburgh Research Explorer

Dr Maddy Seale

(Former employee or visitor)

Education/Academic qualification

2012Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), University of Cambridge
Shoot branching

Current Research Interests

The dandelion fruit consists of umbrella-like filaments and a weight (the seed) at the bottom, which together resemble a parachute at first glance. However, its flight mechanisms remain unexplained since the engineering principles of parachutes cannot apply at the small surface area and flow scales involved.


In this project, we are resolving how the filaments interact with air in order to understand the mechanisms by which the dandelion fruit achieves flight. Using computer simulations and experiments, we are analysing the engineering of the fruit structure and the fluid-structure interaction to identify the key design features that confer its remarkable flight capacity.


Furthermore, the filaments interact with water in two distinct modes: repelling water in light rain, but attracting water under heavy rain. We will characterise the structural and wettability features of the fruit to identify the design features that are responsible for its unique modes of interaction with water.

Research outputs

  1. From passive to informed: Mechanical mechanisms of seed dispersal

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

  2. A separated vortex ring underlies the flight of the dandelion

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetter

  3. Design principles of hair-like structures as biological machines

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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ID: 26476047