Valeria Saro-Cortes

​Email: valeria6@illinois.edu

Education

B.S. Mechanical Engineering

Minor: Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior

Rutgers University, 2019

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Biography

Valeria was born in Montréal, Canada, and raised in New Jersey, where she stayed to complete her bachelor’s degree at Rutgers University. Before joining the BAM Lab, she spent the bulk of her undergraduate years with the Hybrid Micro-/Nanomanufacturing Lab at Rutgers developing techniques for mass-producing complex small-scale architectures for a wide range of applications. This background granted her the opportunity to work with a team at Draper to develop fabrication processes for thermoelectric materials in the summer of 2019.

In 2018, she spent her summer at the Penn Complex Fluids Lab at the University of Pennsylvania studying the mixing behavior of bacterial suspensions in 2D flows as part of an NSF-sponsored REU fellowship. Here she discovered a passion for fluid mechanics and biological locomotion which, paired with a fascination with the natural world that she has held since childhood, drove her to pursue a PhD with the BAM Lab at UIUC.

Valeria aims to develop a career dedicated to tackling challenges in environmental sustainability such as renewable energy, waste management, and ocean conservation.

Outside of research, she enjoys music, rock climbing, and going on adventures.

Research

Valeria's research is motivated by the development of a biologically-inspired Unmanned Aerial-Aquatic Vehicle - that is, one capable of locomotion in both water and air. She is looking to the flying fish for inspiration, a creature capable of transitioning seamlessly from high-maneuverability aquatic locomotion to long-distance aerial travel. Her current focus is to understand how the fish accomplishes this transition at a fundamental level.