Grove City College Professor of Mechanical Engineering Erik Anderson had four major papers accepted for publication in the last 12 months, an achievement that exemplifies the quality of the College’s faculty, as well as the institution’s support of research and commitment to STEM education.
Anderson’s work focuses on the hydrodynamic strategies that aquatic organisms use to move through the water efficiently and effectively. He does this using high-speed cinematography, machine vision, flow visualization and specialized water tanks and tunnels. The work has applications to managing ocean resources and novel marine vehicle design.
Anderson’s research paper run started in May 2016 with the publication of “Ontogenetic changes in larval swimming and orientation of pre-competent sea urchin Arbacia punctulata in turbulence” as a featured article in the Journal of Experimental Biology.
The paper detailed work Anderson did while on sabbatical at Harvard University and in collaboration with scientists at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Massachusetts. The research examines how natural turbulence in the ocean can impact plankton dispersal at different stages of their development. Since many species depend on proper dispersal of their larvae to maintain robust populations, understanding what controls dispersal can help properly manage the ocean’s natural resources.
The second paper, entitled “Theoretical and computational fluid dynamics of an attached remora (Echeneis naucrates),” was published in the October 2016 issue of Zoology. Through collaborations with scientists at Georgia Tech, New Jersey Institute of Technology, and WHOI, Anderson studied the hydrodynamic aspects of remora, a type of fish that has a natural suction cup on its head that allows it to hitch a rideon other creatures. The work was part of a larger effort that is focused on the development of aquatic animal tags modeled after remora.
Anderson and his collaborators’ work on animal tagging also produced the paper “From the track to the ocean: Using flow control to improve marine bio-logging tags for cetaceans,” written with Grove City College alumnus Spencer Garborg ’15 and published in the February 2017 issue of PLOS ONE. The work includedscientists from University of Illinois, U.S. Naval Academy, University of St. Andrews (UK), University of Aarhus (Denmark), Duke, WHOI, and University of Michigan. The group also worked with Michael Moore, who is considered to be one of the top marine mammal experts in the world.
Most recently, Anderson’s paper, “Light stimulates swimming behavior of larval eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) in turbulent flow,” was accepted for publication in an upcoming issue of Marine Ecology Progress Series. It studies the factors that underlie the dispersal of larval organisms, especially in the economically and ecologically vital eastern oyster, whose population has dropped precipitously in the Chesapeake Bay.
Anderson’s research is done at WHOI, Harvard and in his lab on campus thanks in large part to grants from the Jewell, McKenzie and Moore and Swezey Funds, which support scientific work by Grove City College faculty and students.
Anderson’s research and scientific contributions have been instrumental in drawing attention to the College’s outstanding STEM program, as well as providing Grove City College students the research experience they need to secure key internships and gain acceptance into some of the best graduate programs in the country. Recent alumni have interned at Harvard, WHOI, Vanderbilt and the University of Alabama. Many have also gone onto do graduate work at Princeton University, MIT, WHOI, Boston University, CERN, Penn State and the University of Florida.
For more about the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Grove City College, visit www.gcc.edu/mech.