Recent advancements in computational fluid dynamics have enabled researchers to efficiently explore problems that involve moving elastic boundaries immersed in fluids for problems such as cardiac fluid dynamics and animal swimming. These advances have also made modeling both nutrient exchange in a fluid and the muscle-driven motion of a flexible organ or organism through a fluid feasible. The work presented here focuses on the development and implementation of such methods and models for the pumping and pulsation of tubular hearts and jellyfish bells. We leverage existing computational algorithms for fluid-structure interactions and extend this technology to “living” boundaries. Muscle models integrate feedback between the conduction of action potentials, the contraction of muscles, the movement of tissues, and fluid motion. These models are then used to resolve pumping mechanisms in tubular hearts and resonant swimming in jellyfish. If time permits, I will present simulations at intermediate Reynolds and Peclet numbers to reveal how the morphology and kinematics of other marine organisms greatly enhance feeding and exchange flows.
Laura Miller is a professor of Mathematics and an adjunct professor in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Arizona. She received her Ph.D. from the Courant Institute of Mathematics at New York University where she worked with Charles Peskin to understand the aerodynamics of tiny insect flight. She then continued her work in biological fluid dynamics with Aaron Fogelson and Jim Keener at the University of Utah as a postdoctoral fellow. Using her training in both mathematics and biology, she continues to apply mathematical modeling and computational fluid dynamics to better understand how organisms interact with their environments and how organs drive flow in the body. Her current research interests include the feeding and swimming mechanics of jellyfish, blood flow in the embryonic heart, the consequences of flow around corals, and the aerodynamics of flight in the smallest insects and spiders.
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