Biomechanics is a broad interdisciplinary field that encompasses the mechanics of biological systems, structures, materials, and locomotion.  In biomechanics, we study how biological mechanisms work and how organisms interact with their physical environment. This helps us understand organismal behavior and morphology, deepening our biological knowledge and often revealing novel strategies organisms use to thrive.  Biomechanical applications range from the design of biomimetic vehicles for exploring other planets to modeling the optimum structure for implants that facilitate the regrowth of damaged tissue.

The current research in biomechanics at GCC focuses on the behavior of oyster larvae in turbulence, and the propulsive performance of flapping foils and strips.  The work involves fluid dynamics, flow visualization, image processing, biomimetic robotics, and marine ecology.  The aim of the oyster larvae work is to understand what cues oysters to settle and form communities, which are vital to marine ecosystems and regional economies.  The flapping propulsion work increases our understanding of swimming animals, and may lead to the development of novel propulsion systems for marine vehicles.

Students play a key role in this research through summer research grants made available by the college and through outside fellowships.  The work involves collaborators at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Harvard University, and Carnegie Mellon University.  The GCC Department of Mechanical Engineering offers a class called Biomechanics—MECE 328—which is also open to students outside of mechanical engineering.

Recent publications with students as co-athors:

Wheeler, J. D., Helfrich, K. R., Anderson, E. J., McGann, B., Staats, P., Wargula, A. E., Wilt, K., and Mullineaux, L. S. (2013). Upward swimming of competent oyster larvae (Crassostrea virginica) persists in highly turbulent flow as detected by PIV flow subtraction. Mar. Eco. Prog. Ser., 488, 171-185.

Alben, S., Witt, C., Baker, T. V., Anderson, E. and Lauder, G. V. (2012). Dynamics of freely swimming flexible foils. Phys. Fluids. 24, 051901; doi: 10.1063/1.4709477.

Lauder, G. V., Madden, P. G. A., Tangorra, J., Anderson, E. and Baker, T. V. (2011). Bioinspiration from fish for smart material design and function. Smart Mater. Struct.  20, doi:10.1088/0964-1726/20/9/094014.

Lauder, G., Lim, J., Shelton, R., Witt, C., Anderson, E., and Tangorra, J. L. (2011). Robotic models for studying undulatory locomotion.  Mar. Tech. Soc. J. 45 (4), 41-55.

Tytell, E. D., Borazjani, I., Sotiropoulos, F., Baker, T. V., Anderson, E. J., and Lauder, G. V. (2010). Disentangling the functional roles of morphology and motion in the swimming of fish.  Integr. Comp. Biol.  50, 1140-1154.

Recent presentations and posters with students as co-athors:

Arellano, S. M., Mullineaux, L. S., Anderson, E. J., Helfrich, K., McGann, B. J., Wheeler, J. D. (2012). Swimming behaviors of barnacle larvae in response to waterborne settlement cues. 2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting (TOS/ASLO/AGU).  Salt Lake City, UT. Feb. 20 – 24.

Lauder, G. V., Witt, C., and Anderson, E. J. (2011). Biorobotic analysis of the functional significance of fish tail shapes.  Annual Meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology (SICB). Salt Lake City, UT. Jan. 3-7.

Anderson, E., Mullineaux, L., Helfrich, K., Staats, P., Wargula, A., and Wilt, K. (2011). Turbulence intensity affects vertical swimming behavior in oyster larvae, C. virginica.  Microenvironments Modulating Biological Interactions in the Ocean.  The Aspen Center for Physics. Aspen, CO. Jan. 16-21.

Baker, T. V., Anderson, E. J., Lim, J. L., and Lauder, G. V. (2010). Locomotion by flexible foils: effect of length and stiffness on performance.  SICB. Seattle, WA. Jan. 3-7.