NSF Research Experience for Teachers fellow Jeff LaCosse and Phil Anderson publish paper

Jeff LaCosse, a local Jordan High School teacher and a 2015 NSF Research Experience for Teachers fellow in the Patek lab published a paper with Patek lab postdoc Phil Anderson and NCSU engineer Mark Pankow.  This project, funded by Patek's NSF CAREER award, examined the scaling of puncture. 

Anderson PSL, LaCosse J, Pankow M. 2016. Point of impact: the effect of size and speed on puncture mechanics. Interface Focus 6(3).
Link to publication

The use of high-speed puncture mechanics for prey capture has been documented across a wide range of organisms, including vertebrates, arthropods, molluscs and cnidarians. These examples span four phyla and seven orders of magnitude difference in size. The commonality of these puncture systems offers an opportunity to explore how organisms at different scales and with different materials, morphologies and kinematics perform the same basic function. However, there is currently no framework for combining kinematic performance with cutting mechanics in biological puncture systems. Our aim here is to establish this framework by examining the effects of size and velocity in a series of controlled ballistic puncture experiments. Arrows of identical shape but varying in mass and speed were shot into cubes of ballistic gelatine. Results from high-speed videography show that projectile velocity can alter how the target gel responds to cutting. Mixed models comparing kinematic variables and puncture patterns indicate that the kinetic energy of a projectile is a better predictor of penetration than either momentum or velocity. These results form a foundation for studying the effects of impact on biological puncture, opening the door for future work to explore the influence of morphology and material organization on high-speed cutting dynamics.


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