Project Title

Biomechanics In Action

Date

Summer 2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Project

Class

Senior

Department

Biology

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Boller

Description

Understanding the connection between structure and function is fundamental in biology. In plant biology, structural biomechanics influences the fluid dynamics of a plant growing in moving water. Together, structure and function determine how different plant structures either grow or perish in different ecosystems. The project we are working on aims to enable students to investigate the fluid dynamics of plants. We have designed a device that can measure drag on a plant without a bulky and expensive flow tank. By creating an Arduino based mini-computer attached to two force sensors, we are able to measure drag and water velocity as we pull a plant through the water. The addition of a GoPro camera, allows students to measure the size of the plant as it bends from water flow as well as visualizing the process. This information is applied to the drag equation to quantify the performance of the plant in moving water. When combined with a materials analysis, students will be able to examine the structure and function together. This project will demonstrate the reliability of the new method.

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