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  • AME Seminar

    Wed, Sep 23, 2020 @ 03:30 PM - 04:30 PM

    Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering

    Conferences, Lectures, & Seminars

    Speaker: Megan Leftwich, George Washington University

    Talk Title: The Hydrodynamics of Sea Lion Swimming

    Abstract: California Sea Lions are highly maneuverable swimmers, capable of generating high thrust and agile turns. Their main propulsive surfaces, the foreflippers, feature multiple degrees of freedom, allowing their use for thrust production (through a downward, sweeping motion referred to as a clap), turning, stability and station holding (underwater hovering). To determine the two-dimensional kinematics of the California sea lion fore flipper during thrust generation, digital, high definition video is obtained using the specimen at the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington, DC. Single camera videos are analyzed to digitize the flipper during the motions, using 10 points spanning root to tip in each frame. Digitized shapes were then fitted with an empirical function that quantitatively allows for both comparison between different claps and for extracting kinematic data. The resulting function shows a high degree of curvature (with a camber of up to 32%). Analysis of sea lion acceleration from rest shows thrust production in the range of 150-680 N and maximum flipper angular velocity (for rotation about the shoulder joint) as high as 20 rad/s. Analysis of turning maneuvers indicate extreme agility and precision of movement driven by the fore flipper surfaces. This work is being extended to three-dimensions via the addition of a second camera and a sophisticated calibration scheme to create a set of camera-intrinsic properties. Simultaneously, we have developed a robotic sea lion foreflipper to investigate the resulting fluid dynamic structures in a controlled, laboratory setting.

    Biography: Megan C. Leftwich is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at The George Washington University. She holds a Ph.D. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering from Princeton University and a B.S.E. degree from Duke University. Prior to joining GW, she was the Agnew National Security Postdoctoral Fellow at Los Alamos National Lab from 2010 to 2012. Her current research interests include the fluid dynamics of rotating airfoils, high performance jetting for aquatic locomotion, unsteady activation for undulatory propulsion, and the fluid dynamics of human birth. Prof. Leftwich has a deep interest in diversity in technical fields and STEM education from the first year through the Ph.D. Professor Leftwich is an Office of Naval Research 2017 Young Investigator Award Recipient. Additionally, she is the winner of the Curriculum Vitae of Megan C. Leftwich 2019 Early Career Researcher Award at George Washington University, the 2018 SEAS Deans Faculty Recognition Award, the 2017 SEAS Outstanding Young Researcher Award and the 2016 SEAS Outstanding Young Teacher Award. Her work on unsteady propulsion has been profiled in over 20 popular media venues including: Wired, CNNs Great Big Story, the Smithsonian Magazine and the New York Times.

    Host: AME Department

    More Info: https://usc.zoom.us/j/99786894408

    Webcast: https://usc.zoom.us/j/99786894408

    Location: Online event

    WebCast Link: https://usc.zoom.us/j/99786894408

    Audiences: Everyone Is Invited

    Contact: Tessa Yao

    Event Link: https://usc.zoom.us/j/99786894408

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