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Biological Propulsion Laboratory

The Biological Propulsion Laboratory, directed by Professor John Dabiri, examines the mechanics and dynamics of biological propulsion, which is broadly defined to include the transport of fluid mass, momentum, and energy in both stationary and mobile systems. Applications include aquatic locomotion, fluid dynamic energy conversion, and cardiac flows. A current focus of research in the Laboratory is the study of jellyfish as a model system for fluid dynamic and behavioral (e.g., sensing and control) aspects of biological propulsion in general. In addition, the concept of optimal vortex formation is being generalized to enable discovery of underlying design principles in biological and bio-inspired propulsion systems.

The group develops and applies new experimental and theoretical methods in fluid dynamics to investigate in situ and in vivo fluid transport, with the goal of discovering general bio-inspired design principles that can be implemented in engineering systems.

Students from both engineering and biology backgrounds with a particular interest in interdisciplinary work participate in the research activities of Professor Dabiri’s laboratory. Facilities include a 40-meter long, tilting water channel for studies of aquatic propulsion; pseudokreisel tanks housing jellyfish medusae; computer-controlled vortex generators; high-speed laser velocimetry equipment; and wet lab apparatus for studies of micro-scale biological propulsion.


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Research Podcast [.mp3, 5 MB]
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Last Update: November 5, 2012