My Research Areas
ELEPHANT TRUNK BIOMECHANICS
Elephant trunks are one of the three main examples of muscular hydrostats along with octopus arms and mammalian tongues. They are the construction cranes of the animal kingdom with the ability to push over 400 kg trees, but also have the precision to pick up a tortilla chip without breaking it. This makes the elephant trunk an ideal bio-inspiration for a new type of soft robot mimicking the unmatched strength and flexibility the elephant is able to do. Illustration by B. Seleb
BIO-INSPIRED KNITTED MATERIALS
The elephant trunk has a diverse array of wrinkled and folded structures that make it complex to understand the internal mechanics. In collaboration with the Matsumoto physics group at Georgia Tech, we are working to create knitted fabric mimics of the elephant trunk to understand why the elephant trunk is so wrinkled and folded. These fabrics are knitted on an industrial knitting machine that allows us to have the precision to generate wrinkles and folds in a pseudo-one-dimenesional geometry.
CONSERVATION TECHNOLOGY COLLABORATIONS
Humans are currently causing the 6th mass extinction on earth through wildlife crime, negative human-wildlife interactions, deforestation, climate change. By using human centered design we are designing new ways to help urban wildlife projects conserve and protect native carnivore species through the use of automated biscuit dispensing devices that also allow distribution of biscuit vaccine to potentially infected populations.
Cheetahs utilize their tails for agile locomotion during prey capture and chasing different prey through different terrains. There are also biomechanical differences between wild and captive cheetah biomechanics that is shown in their tail use as well as their speed and locomotor performance. Can we utilize biomechanics observations to understand how to better work on the reintroductions of cheetahs into the wild for conservation? We are working to answer this question with collaborators in South Africa and the University of Swaziland.
CATS VS. DOGS TAIL BIOMECHANICS
Dogs (Canids) and Cats (Felids) are some of the most well-known mammal species as they are the most common domesticated species in the world. Most wild canids and felids are keystone species for conservation, meaning they are key to the survival of the ecosystems they live. We are working to better understand how dogs and cats utilize their tails for agile locomotion including prey capture and communication between species.
BEAR BIOMECHANICS AND CONSERVATION
Bears are the largest and most massive of the plantigrade generalist. There are currently 8 living species of bears alive on the earth. Understanding how animals as massive as the giant panda still has the ability to climb very well will help us understand more about how large animals can do such complicated maneuvers in the trees. Six of the eight species of bears in the world are endangered and climbing is a primary way of escape from predation. Understanding bear climbing behavior could have a positive impact towards conservation of bear species. Illustration by B. Seleb.