Dr. Rhea Waldman is a scientist, educator, and passionate science communicator.


Rhea is currently the education director at the South Dakota Discovery Center.

She started her research on bat flight 10 years ago during her master’s thesis, which she did in collaboration between the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany and Lund University, Sweden. This collaboration continued during her doctoral dissertation, entitled “The trinity of energy conversion – kinematics, aerodynamics and energetics of bats flight”. She received her doctorate from Humboldt University in Berlin, Germany in 2011. Rhea extended her research at Brown University in Providence, RI, focusing on flight energetics, muscle activity, and X-ray high-speed videography of flying bats.

Rhea just finished a postdoctoral research associate and lecturer position in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology at Iowa State University. She was the “aerodynamicist on call” and worked on several flight-related projects, such as conservation-motivated research of butterfly flight in a wind tunnel, butterfly wing morphometrics, aerodynamics of leaf flammability and collaborated with the Aerospace Engineering Department to investigate the aerodynamics of aster seeds.

Rhea enjoys science outreach and is passionate about creating graphical visualizations of the methods and results of her studies to make her research accessible to a broad audience. She is a Science Communication Fellow with Portal to the Public at the Science Center of Iowa and gave Science Communication Fellowship workshops at the Reiman Gardens in Ames, IA.