Seminar at Johns Hopkins

I just returned from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, where I gave a seminar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. I was invited by Dr. Chen Li, who has recently started there as an assistant professor. Chen has a really vibrant lab that studies terrestrial locomotion (primarily in insects) and does bioinspired engineering as well, making robots that scurry and flip like their 6-legged relatives. Among other faculty, I also spent time with Dr. Rajat Mittal, who does computational fluid mechanics. Dr. Chen Li in his lab. Dr. Rajat Mittal at the lacrosse field. Isaac peddles snake oil.

Jonas finished his project on snake friction

Today Jonas Scherer leaves us to return to his native Germany. Jonas seemed to have a highly productive time in the lab, starting and finishing a new project on friction coefficients in flying snakes. This project served as the basis for his undergraduate thesis at the Westphalian University of Applied Sciences, in the Institute for Biomimetics. In addition to seeing the lab, Jonas was able to get out to see parts of the US, including a foray into NYC with city pro Sharri.

Flying snake glide trials at Virginia Tech

This week we conclude outdoor glide trials of flying snakes (specifically, Chrysopelea paradisi). We were motivated by the snakes' seemingly poorer glide performance in our indoor tests in The Cube, compared to previous data collected outdoors in Southeast Asia. We worked from a JLG lift, maxing out in height over 18 meters. We ended up seeing some spectacular gliding from the greatest heights, but still didn't see similar performance to previous snakes. This effect might result from the snakes being in a lab colony for multiple years, and/or their larger body size. Isaac is working on it.


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