SCS Faculty Candidate

  • Postdoctoral Fellow
  • Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering
  • Harvard University

Extreme Motions in Natural and Synthetic Systems

Small organisms can achieve extraordinary accelerations, speeds, and forces repeatedly throughout their lifespan with minimal costs. For example, bacteria can effectively swim in low Reynolds number environments, rotating their flagella at 100 Hz; mantis shrimp break clam shells with a single strike, reaching peak forces of 1500 N and causing cavitation bubbles; and trap-jaw ants close their jaws at speeds of more than 60 m/s and use this motion to jump more than 20 times their body length. Current engineered systems have not achieved similar performance due to challenges in design, manufacturing, and control at micrometer to centimeter scales. This talk will describe the use of analytical and computational models as well as physical prototypes to test biological hypotheses (e.g. the effects of fluid and confinement on locomotion of microswimmers, environmental load and energy storage elements in the impulsive mechanisms of mantis shrimp and trap jaw ants). This talk will also highlight our efforts towards the design, material selection, actuation, assembly, and locomotion of millimeter scale bio-inspired robots, realizing systems that reach power densities of more than 40 kW/kg and jump more than 100 times their characteristic length.

Zeynep Temel is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University (SEAS) in the Microrobotics Lab of Prof. Robert Wood. Zeynep’s work focuses on understanding the energetics of the extreme motions in natural and synthetic systems using analytical and physical modeling techniques. She earned her PhD in Mechatronics Engineering from Sabanci University, Turkey under the supervision of Prof. Serhat Yesilyurt. She previously graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Istanbul Technical University, Turkey. Her project on computational and experimental characterization of bacteria-inspired micro swimmers was awarded with a Turkish Science Foundation Fellowship.

Faculty Host: Howie Choset (RI)

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