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Infrared photographs butterflies-nanfangyuandcheng-chiatsai

Butterfly Wings Are A Matrix of Living Cells

January 28, 2020
Naomi Pierce and PhD candidate, Richard Childers teamed with researchers at Columbia University to examine the wings of Lepidoptera. Butterfly wings contain a matrix of living cells whose function requires appropriate temperatures. However, given their small thermal capacity, wings can overheat rapidly in the sun. The team analyzed wings across a wide range of simulated environmental conditions and found regions containing living cells are maintained at cooler temperatures. The wings act like temperature sensors, which allows butterflies to... Read more about Butterfly Wings Are A Matrix of Living Cells
Twisting of muscles graphic

Study Sheds Light on Soft Artificial Muscles

November 15, 2019
Artificial muscles will power the soft robots and wearable devices of the future, but the underlying mechanics is not well known. Professor L. Mahadevan's study in Physical Review Letters uncovers some of the fundamental physical properties of artificial muscle fibers. The thin soft filaments can stretch, bend and twist into extreme deformations. Mahadevan's study explains the theoretical principles underlying the transformations. ... Read more about Study Sheds Light on Soft Artificial Muscles
Shape shifting face model

Shape-shifting Structures Take The Form of A face, Antenna

October 7, 2019

Prof. L Mahadevan and researchers with the Harvard Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering have created the most complex shape-shifting structures to date -- lattices composed of multiple materials that grow or shrink in response to changes in temperature. The team printed flat lattices that shape morph into a frequency-shifting antenna or the face of pioneering mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss in response to a change in temperature. The study is published in the Proceedings of the...

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Protein Aggregation courtesy of SEAS/Mahadevan

Using Math to Help Treat Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other Diseases

August 15, 2019

L. Mahadevan's latest study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences offers insight into treatments for diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other diseases in which protein aggregation (misfolded proteins clump together) is implicated. While the role of protein aggregation is not fully understood, many current treatments target the aggregation process. However, finding the right treatment protocols for these drugs is challenging.

Mahadevan and team developed a...

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Bacillus subtilis swarm by Adrian Daerr

L. Mahadevan and Team Describe How Bacteria Spread in Different Forms

April 30, 2019

Prof. L. Mahadevan and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences researchers have developed a new model to describe how bacteria spread in different forms. The study, published in the open-access journal, eLife, combines mechanics, hydrodynamics and transport to describe the dynamics of growth and formation of thin bacterial swarms and biofilms; revealing the spread in both forms of microbial community are limited by the constraints of water and nutrient availability. The researchers...

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Termite mound in namibia courtesy of SEAS

How Termite Mounds Get Their Shape

February 12, 2019
How the centimeter-sized termite is able to build meter-sized structures all over the world has long puzzled scientists. In a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Prof. Mahadevan and PhD student, Alexander Heyde, developed a simple model that shows how differences in the environment lead to the distinct morphologies of termite mounds in Asia, Australia, Africa, and South America. The model not only demonstrates... Read more about How Termite Mounds Get Their Shape
Bee Sensors by Jacob Peters

How Honey Bees Keep the Hive Cool on Hot Days

February 5, 2019

Postdoc, Jacob Peters (PhD '18) and Prof. L. Mahadevan have developed a framework that explains how bees use environmental signals to collectively cluster and continuously ventilate the hive. The study published in Journal of the Royal Society Interface looked at European honey bees (Apis mellifera), which live in large congested nest cavities with a single opening that limits passive ventilation. When the temperature is too elevated, the bees self-...

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rstb.2018.374.issue-1763.largecover

Biological Collections for Understanding Biodiversity in the Anthropocene

November 19, 2018

Postdoctoral researcher, Emily Meineke (Davis Lab), former postdoctoral researcher, Barnabas Daru (Davis Lab) and Prof. Charles Davis teamed with Prof. Jonathan Davies, University of British Columbia to serve as co-editors of a special issue of Philosophical Transactions B, (v374:1763). 

The special issue is dedicated to looking at the creative ways researchers around the world have used biological collections. Scientists can extract DNA...

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