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© 2016-19 Jake Socha

Lab members

Currently working in the lab. Click here for previous members.

Dr. Jake Socha
Principal Investigator
 

I am a professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech.  I am also a member of the Virginia Tech-Wake Forest School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, an affiliate of VT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Biological Sciences, a member of VT’s Integrative Organismal Biology group, and the director of Virginia Tech’s BIOTRANS program. I also serve as Associate Editor for the journal Royal Society Open Science.

Download CV (pdf)

Postdocs

Dr. Hodjat Pendar

Research Assistant Professor

 

Hodjat is a postdoc in the lab, and also serves as an instructor for the department, teaching Dynamics, Deforms, Statics, and Mechanics of Animal Locomotion. Hodjat received his PhD in Engineering Mechanics from Virginia Tech, and was a graduate student in our lab, studying insect biomechanics. He has bachelor's and master's degrees in mechanical engineering from Sharif University. Prior to coming to VT, he spent many years in industry as an engineer, dreaming of someday working with bug guts.

Mary Salcedo

Postdoctoral fellow

Mary is a postdoc in the lab, supported by an NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Biology (PRFB). Mary earned her Ph.D. in the Department of Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University, co-advised by L. Mahadevan and Stacey Combes (U.C. Davis), studying the biomechanics of insect wings. She did her bachelor's degree in biology at U. Washington, and at one point worked with Tom Daniel. In our lab, Mary is working on circulation in insects, among other things.

Graduate students

Rod La Foy

Ph.D. candidate

 

Rod is a PhD student in mechanical engineering, working on new methods to measure three-dimensional flows. Rod has a BS in ME from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Rod’s primary advisor is Dr. Pavlos Vlachos (Purdue), and Dr. Socha is his co-advisor. Rod is an inaugural member of the NSF MultiSTEPS IGERT program (now BIOTRANS).

Talia Weiss

Ph.D. candidate

 

Talia is a graduate student in the School of Biomedical Engineering and Sciences, studying locomotion at the water interface in animals.  Talia earned her bachelor's in bioengineering from the California Institute of Technology. She is also a member of the BIOTRANS program.

Joel Garrett

Ph.D. candidate

 

Joel is a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, studying insect biomechanics and bio-inspired engineering.  Joel earned bachelor's and master's degrees in biomedical engineering from Georgia Tech and Duke University. He is also a member of the BIOTRANS program. Click here for Joel's web site.

Jack Whitehead

Ph.D. candidate

 

Jack is a PhD student in Biology, studying the biological bases of navigation in birds and insects. Jack earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Juniata College. He is co-advised by Dr. Ignacio Moore of Biological Sciences. Jack is also a member of the BIOTRANS program. 

Michelle Graham

Ph.D. candidate

 

Michelle is a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, studying the mechanics of flying snakes. Michelle earned a bachelor's degree in physics and philosophy from Oxford University. She also played on the women's rugby team, so don't mess with her, or you'll get an ankle tap. 

Josh Pulliam

Ph.D. student

Josh is a PhD student in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics, whose research will most likely involve animal locomotion. Josh earned dual degrees in applied physics from Morehouse College and mechanical engineering from Auburn University. 

Maria Gonzalez

Ph.D. student

Maria is a Ph.D. student in the Engineering Mechanics, whose research will most likely involve animal locomotion. Maria earned degrees in physics (major) and women's and gender studies (minor) from Wellesley College. 

Undergraduates

Nicole Araujo

Biological sciences major

Nicole is studying vision in flying snakes with Dr. Sharri Zamore.

Cassi Basham

Mechanical engineering major

Cassi is studying an unusual form of tongue flicking in flying snakes.

Mela Coffey

ESM major

Mela is analyzing motion-capture data from our project on how flying snakes cross gaps. 

Mariam Hasan
Engineering major

Mariam is helping with multiple kinematic analyses projects.

Evelyn Jens

Mechanical engineering major

Evelyn researches how ducks land on water with Jack Whitehead.

Dina Liacopoulos
Engineering major

Dina is studying how frogs hop on water with Talia Weiss.

Suinda Ossenkopp
Chemical engineering major

Suinda is helping to characterize an unusual form of tongue flicking in flying snakes. The data for this project were collected by teacher Phil Hernandez.

Brennan Rausch

Mechanical engineering major

Brennan is working on insect tracheal mechanics with Khaled Adjerid. 

Abdul Shahid
Engineering major

Abdul is working on insect tracheal mechanics with Khaled Adjerid. 

Terrell Worrell
ESM major

Terrell is analyzing high-speed video footage of ducks landing on water and helping Jack Whitehead with experiments in the field.

Animal technicians

Natalie Lovelace
Animal and poultry sciences major

Natalie is an animal technician working with flying snakes. She is also working on a breeding project. 

Caroline Marti
Microbiology major

Marti is an animal technician working with flying snakes and frogs. 

Jordan Proctor
Animal and poultry sciences major

Jordan is an animal technician working with flying snakes and frogs. 

Summer researchers

Parker Broadnax
Applied physics major

Parker spent the summer of 2018 in the lab developing a new experiment to test the effect of flexibility on landing in flying snakes. He is a student at Morehouse College.

Ira Moore

Applied physics major

Ira researched duck landings in the lab during the summer of 2018 with Jack Whitehead, helping with experiments in the field and analyzing kinematic data. He is a student at Morehouse College.

Emily Graziani
Mechanical engineering major

Emily helped Parker Broadnax develop a new experiment related to flying snake landing in the summer of 2018.

Teachers

Michael Collver

High school teacher

Mr. Collver teaches science and technology at Blacksburg High School in Blacksburg, VA. He worked with Dr. Sharri Zamore to set up a new snake vision experiment as part of our NSF RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) program "Biomechanics from molecular to organismal scales." He is the lead teacher for the district-wide FIRST Robotics Competition team, Team 401 Copperhead Robotics.  

Nitika Sood

High school teacher

Nitika teaches math at Pulaski High School in Pulaski, VA. She was measuring mechanical properties of insect tracheal tubes as part of our NSF RET (Research Experiences for Teachers) program "Biomechanics from molecular to organismal scales." Prior to teaching, Nitika lived and worked in Kenya for a decade.  

Mascots

Beckett

Kid

 

Beckett goes to school, does Tae Kwon Do, plays soccer, and does theater.

Kylan

Teen

 

Kylan goes to school, runs track, plays soccer, and does theater.