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Caltech Young Investigators Lecture

Friday, April 8, 2022
3:00pm to 4:00pm
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Stable Self-organization Arises for Schooling Swimmers Through Hydrodynamic Interactions
Melike Kurt, Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Southampton, United Kingdom,


In nature, fish often aggregate into large schools or collectives and achieve efficient propulsion due to a series of remarkably complex flow interactions. Most research on this topic is driven by the interest to maximize swimming efficiency or force production. However, flow-mediated forces, pushing and pulling the swimmers in multiple directions, can also directly affect the collective spatial self-organization. In this talk, I will report on our experiments examining the effect of flow-mediated forces on schooling order, using oscillatory foils as a simple representation of schooling swimmers. First, I will discuss whether stable equilibrium is achievable for a foil oscillating near ground. Second, I will introduce the problem where a pair of oscillatory foils interacts in the plane, in two-dimensions, and our findings on two-dimensionally stable or unstable equilibria dictated purely through hydrodynamic interactions. Lastly, I will discuss the collective performance characteristics for this simple collective of oscillatory foils. Our new findings on schooling performance and stability characteristics suggest that fluid-mediated equilibria may play a role in the control strategies of schooling fish and fish-inspired robots.


Melike Kurt is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Aerodynamics and Flight Mechanics Group, in the Department of Aerospace and Aeronautics Engineering at University of Southampton, United Kingdom. Her work in the research group of Prof Bharathram Ganapathisubramani focuses on the roughness effects on the aerodynamic performance of lifting surfaces, and multi-body flow interactions in turbulent incoming flow conditions. She received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering at Lehigh University (U.S.A.) with Dr. Keith Moored, where she studied stable organization and performance characteristics of interacting unsteady propulsors as a simple model of fish schools in nature. She obtained her M.Sc. in Mechanical Engineering at Bogazici University (Istanbul, Turkey) and B.Sc. also in Mechanical Engineering at Istanbul Technical University (Turkey), working on different problems, such as thermal and rheological characterization of nanoparticle suspensions and plastic extrusion. Her research interests lie at the intersection biology and fluid mechanics with a specific focus on fluid-structure interactions, bio-inspired design, unsteady propulsion, vortex dynamics, and multi-body flow interactions.

This talk is part of the Caltech Young Investigators Lecture Series, sponsored by the Division of Engineering and Applied Science.

For more information, please contact Michael Stramenga by email at [email protected].