Computational Fluid Dynamics of Cone Snail Feeding Strikes

This project seeks to develop a simplified computational fluid dynamics model 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 computational fluid dynamics model of the pressurization, release, and trajectory of the projectile tooth to evaluate at what size scale these propulsive mechanisms are most effective. This project builds on ongoing work by HMC students to develop a simplified experimental model of how wall elasticity and unlatching mechanics affect tooth propulsion. This project is also 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 computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model using either commercial CFD codes or an open-source fluid-structure interaction solver.

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).

Name of research group, project, or lab
Flow Imaging Lab at Mudd, Physics of Soft Matter Lab
Why join this research group or lab?

This is an early-stage interdisciplinary project. Research students hired for this position will play a critical role in steering the direction of the study 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).

Logistics Information:
Project categories
Fluid Mechanics
Mechanical Engineering
Student ranks applicable
Student qualifications

Students from all course years will be considered for this position. Enthusiasm for developing and answering research questions are the only requirements.

Coursework in mechanics, broadly-defined (e.g., Phys24, Phys111, Engr83, Engr131) and experience with computational simulations (e.g., CFD, Finite Element Analysis) are valued, but not required.

Time commitment
Spring - Part Time
Academic Credit
Number of openings
Techniques learned

Computational Fluid Dynamics

Validating Simulations with Experiments

Contact Information:
Mentor name
Leah Mendelson
Mentor email
Mentor position
Name of project director or principal investigator
PI: Leah Mendelson, Co-Investigator: Mark Ilton
Email address of project director or principal investigator
1 sp. | 0 appl.
Hours per week
Spring - Part Time
Project categories
Biomechanics (+3)
PhysicsBiomechanicsFluid MechanicsMechanical Engineering