Comparative Biomechanics

biomech_flight2.130x250We study the physics of how organisms perform mechanical functions such as locomotion, feeding, or withstanding environmental forces. We work at the interface between biomechanics and comparative physiology, ecology, and evolutionary biology, and we conduct our research both in the laboratory and in the field within the natural habitats of the organisms. Experimental and computational techniques from both solid and fluid mechanics are combined to study a variety of problems, including animal locomotion in water, on the ground, and in the air, food capture, chemoreception, and the interplay between mechanical design, neural control, and behavioral responses to physically variable environments. Structure and function of diverse plant and animal taxa are investigated at multiple levels of organization, including tissues, organs and organ systems (e.g., legs, wings, circulatory systems, olfactory organs), whole organisms and their interactions with the physical environment, and biomechanical adaptations over evolutionary time. Physical principles learned in our studies of the biomechanics of organisms are providing inspiration for the design of man-made materials and machines (i.e., biomimetics).

Other research areas:
Structural Biophysics and Protein Dynamics
Systems Neuroscience
Molecular Microscopy and Optical Probes
Cell Signaling and Cellular Physiology
Computational Biology and Genomics
Brain Imaging and Bioelectronics
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