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Samuel Vaughan
Former Lab Member

Academic Background
BS Engineering Science, Tufts University, 2012

Research Interests
Biomechanics, Invertebrate Locomotion

I am interested in the interplay of mechanics and biology. Evolution has developed a huge range of locomotor strategies, and there is a lot to be learned about useful mechanical systems in biology. I study one such system: the mechanics of locomotion in Manduca sexta. These animals are interesting because they lack any rigid support structure, and although they are entirely soft, they still use legs. Additionally, they do not have the classic mechanics of hydrostats, a well studied soft biological system. Instead Manduca use a combination of hyrdrostatics and active muscular control of their appendages to locomote.

I began my work by looking at single leg ground reaction forces in crawling Manduca sexta, and then I moved on to climbing animals. This allowed me to compare the differences between the orientations. I am also interested in the gripping system of Manduca. The caterpillars have a passive grip, which allows them to attach to a wide variety of substrates without any active muscle use. I am currently working on developing a 3 dimensional representation of their legs during grip, and hope to correlate this with the specific neural control of the legs.

In this future, I hope to move on, away from invertebrates and work on biomedical devices, ideally studying some form of neural control of prosthetics.

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