This project seeks to develop a simplified mechanical model and experiment to characterize the biomechanics and fluid mechanics behind cone snail feeding strikes. Cone snails feed by rapidly ejecting a venomous tooth into prey (video example). The tooth is propelled by pressurized fluid and released by a biomechanical latch when pressure builds sufficiently high. We seek to develop a simplified mechanical model of the pressurization, unlatching, and trajectory of the projectile tooth to evaluate how different variables (e.g. pressure, latch stiffness, wall flexibility) affect propulsion of the tooth. This project is complementary to broader research efforts characterizing rapid underwater accelerations (Prof. Mendelson's Flow Imaging Lab at Mudd) and ultrafast bioinspired mechanisms (Prof. Ilton's Physics of Soft Matter lab).
The research student hired for this project will develop a simplified experiment and corresponding mathematical model to isolate some of the variables mentioned above. Experiment development will include design, prototyping, and testing, likely using high-speed imaging to characterize projectile trajectories.
Essay prompt: Why are you interested in working on this research project? What will you bring to the project and what do you hope to learn? Please also submit the names of two HMC professors who can comment on your work habits. It's ok if this response is short (~1-2 paragraphs).
This is an early-stage interdisciplinary and hands-on project. Research students hired for this position will play a critical role in steering the direction of the experiment that we develop. Students will also have the opportunity to work with both the Flow Imaging Lab at Mudd (PI: Mendelson) and the Physics of Soft Matter Lab (PI: Ilton).