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Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar

Thursday, October 28, 2021
11:00am to 12:00pm
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Gates-Thomas 135
Cellular NeuroMechanics – Concussions, Traumatic Brain Injury and the mysterious Havana Syndrome
Christian Franck, Grainger Institute for Engineering Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison,

Mechanical and Civil Engineering Seminar Series
Current prediction, prevention and diagnosis strategies for mild traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, are still largely in their infancy due to a lack of detailed understanding and resolution of how physical forces give rise to tissue injury at a cellular level. In this talk I will present some recent work on our current understanding of the origin of concussions and traumatic brain injuries and how cells in the brain interpret and react to the physical forces of trauma. Specifically, I will show that the path to a better understanding of traumatic injuries involves addressing a variety of finite deformation, rate-dependent soft matter and cell mechanics problems along the way. Finally, I will provide an update on how our current understanding of the cellular neuromechanics cannot only help shed light on improving our prediction of TBI but also enable us to dissect the physical origin of emerging injuries such as the Havana Syndrome.

Bio: Christian Franck is a mechanical engineer specializing in cellular biomechanics and new experimental mechanics techniques at the micro and nanoscale. He received his B.S. in aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia in 2003, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the California Institute of Technology in 2004 and 2008. Dr. Franck held a post-doctoral position at Harvard investigating brain and neural trauma. He was an assistant and associate professor in mechanics at Brown University from 2009 - 2018, and is now the Grainger Institute for Engineering Professor in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

His lab at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed unique three-dimensional full-field imaging capabilities based on multiphoton microscopy and digital volume correlation. Current application areas of these three-dimensional microscopy techniques include understanding the 3D deformation behavior of neurons in the brain during traumatic brain injuries, and the role of non-linear material deformations in soft matter.

He is the acting director of the Center for Traumatic Brain Injury at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the ONR-funded Physics-based Neutralization of Threats to Human Tissues and Organs (PANTHER) program, which consists of over 24 PIs nationwide. Key objectives of the Panther program are in better detection, prediction, and prevention of traumatic brain injuries by providing accelerated translation from basic science discovery to civilian and warfighter protection solutions.

NOTE: At this time, in-person Mechanical and Civil Engineering Lectures are open to all Caltech students/staff/faculty/visitors with a valid Caltech ID. Outside community members are welcome to join our online webinar.

Zoom link:
Passcode: 251100

For more information, please contact Jenni Campbell by email at [email protected] or visit