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Valeria Saro-Cortes


B.S. Mechanical Engineering

Minor in Environmental Policy, Institutions, and Behavior

Rutgers University, 2019

Valeria Saro-Cortes


Valeria was 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 invaluable experience, coupled with the opportunity to apply her new skills at Draper in the summer of 2019 to develop fabrication processes for thermoelectric materials, were what inspired her to pursue a career in research. 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 has followed her through life, drove her to pursue a PhD with the BAM Lab at UIUC, and to later follow the lab in its new beginning at Princeton.

Valeria's ultimate goal for her career after graduation is to fully dedicate herself to tackling challenges in environmental sustainability such as renewable energy, waste management, and ocean conservation.

Outside of research, she enjoys music, video games, and rock climbing.


The aerial-aquatic locomotion of the flying fish

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, and to use this understanding to develop a mathematical model for the locomotion of the fish.

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