Summer Seminar: “Fish Out of Water: Jumping Fish and their Bioinspired Applications,” Leah Mendelson

June 18, 2021 Add to Calendar

12–1 p.m.



Jumping for aerial prey from an aquatic environment requires both propulsive power and precise aim to succeed. Archer fish, better known for their spitting abilities, will jump multiple body lengths out of the water to feed, especially in competitive foraging scenarios. Prior to jumping, archer fish aim from a stationary position located directly below the water’s surface. Rapid acceleration to a ballistic velocity sufficient for reaching the prey height occurs with a mere body length to travel before the fish leaves the water completely. This seminar examines the fluid dynamics underlying the archer fish’s jumping abilities. Leah Mendelson will discuss the use of high- speed imaging, three-dimensional flow field measurements and computational fluid dynamics to characterize relationships between fin motions, hydrodynamic structures and the fish’s trajectory throughout the course of a jumping maneuver and over a range of jump heights. Mendelson will also discuss mechanisms developed by her lab that recreate aspects of these jumping behaviors for further study.

Leah Mendelson is an assistant professor of engineering at Harvey Mudd College. She holds her B.S. from Olin College (2011) and an M.S. (2013) and PhD (2017) from MIT, all in mechanical engineering. Her research interests include unsteady aquatic locomotion, bio-inspired mechanism design, and low-cost techniques for fluid flow measurement in both research and educational settings. Her work on jumping archer fish has been featured by AIP Scilight, MIT News, MIT Technology Review, Inside JEB, and At Harvey Mudd College, Mendelson directs the Flow Imaging Lab at Mudd (FILM) and teaches classes in solid and fluid mechanics and engineering design. Outside of the lab, she enjoys running, hiking and swimming.

Contact Carissa Saugstad for Zoom meeting information.