Anderson addresses grand challenges with biofluid dynamics research

Grove City College Professor of Mechanical Engineering Erik J. Anderson published research in biofluid dynamics in two peer-reviewed journals this year.

The goal of the research, some of which was conducted with the help of students in his campus lab in Hoyt and Rockwell halls, is understanding and protecting ocean resources and preserving the health of the oceans, Anderson said.

“These projects are a continuation of research that I have been doing for many years that has to do with understanding behavior in marine organisms as a necessary step in the vital need to properly manage and protect the world’s oceans,” he said. “Scientists and policy makers have identified stabilizing biodiversity and ecosystem functioning as one of the ‘Grand Challenges’ facing humanity.”

“The gains are not simply for the scientific community; they are for the public good. The ocean biome produces over half the oxygen we breathe, covers 75 percent of the planet and produces over 16 percent of human protein intake. Three-and-a-half billion people depend on the oceans for food. It’s not hard to see that the health of the oceans is critical to the survival of human beings and the global economy,” Anderson noted.   

In January, the Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology published Anderson’s “Helical Swimming as an Exploratory Behavior in Competent Larvae of the Eastern Oyster (crassostrea virginica),” which is part of a larger project to understand the dispersal and behaviors of plankton that are vital to the food chain of the entire planet. The research was written and published in collaboration with researchers at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) and other schools.

Anderson’s second publication, “Integration, Calibration, and Experimental Verification of a Speed Sensor for Swimming Animals” is in the May 15 edition of the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) Sensors Journal. The paper describes work Anderson completed at Woods Hole and with collaborators from the University of Michigan and other schools. It involves the development of instrumented tags for tracking large marine mammals. Anderson’s contribution to these projects is mainly in the area of experimental and theoretical fluid dynamics using experimental equipment at WHOI and data processing resources in his lab at Grove City College, where students helped both in acquiring and processing data. Grove City College alumna Ellen (Turner ’17) Zerbe is listed as a co-author. Zerbe’s research with Anderson helped propel her to an NSF research internship at Vanderbilt in prosthetics and a Ph.D. program at Penn State.

“Research like this at Grove City College communicates to the world that we are committed to addressing the grand challenges facing our world. It is an act of good stewardship and loving our neighbors,” Anderson said.

Anderson’s work is funded by Grove City College through the Jewell, Moore and MacKenzie Fund, which was established by Trustee Chair David R. Rathburn ’79, and the Swezey Fund, a dedicated source of College research funding. That support is crucial to providing students with a solid educational experience and greatly appreciated, Anderson said.

“I’d like to offer my sincere thanks to those who’ve contributed to research at Grove City College and I encourage many more to contribute. The College has great potential to be a leader in undergraduate research and contributions to research funding at Grove City College make realizing this a possibility,” he said. “Research opportunities at Grove City College have also benefitted hundreds of outstanding students just in the past decade.”

Anderson addresses grand challenges with biofluid dynamics research

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