Online Program Schedule

The program schedule is subject to change. Check this site for updates. When you arrive at the meeting site, check the final schedule for any last-minute changes.

Session Schedule & Abstracts

Please note that we’re in the process of correcting typographical errors. If you see such errors, please report them to Larry Witmer (, but changes to content will not be made.

Sunday 3rd July, 2016

Symposium: Interdisciplinary and evolutionary approaches to vertebrate biological materials 1

Room: Salon B   9:30 am–11:00 am

Moderator(s): M. Dean, A. J. Crosby, D. Irschick, & L. Li
MAT1-1  9:30 am  From physical to digital and back: How 3D modeling and additive manufacturing reveal nature's design rules. Seidel R*, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces; Hosny A, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering; Weaver JC, Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering; Adriaens D, Ghent University; Porter MM, Clemson University; Dean MN, Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces
Abstract: The study of morphology is rapidly advancing, largely due to major technological improvements over the past 10 years. Enhancements in laboratory and synchrotron-based microCT techniques (including those in computational power and data storage), for example, have pushed digital, 3D, and high-resolution investigations of anatomy forward at remarkable speeds. Less explored, however, are 3D-parametric modeling and 3D-printing techniques in morphological studies, although these hold particular promise as tools for helping us understand the functional performance of biological systems. Whereas first generation 3D printers were exorbitantly expensive and relatively inaccessible, modern additive manufacturing options are far more available to researchers as desktop units and DIY kits. Here, we present various studies of vertebrate morphology and biomechanics that harness modern geometric modeling and 3D-printing techniques, drawing in particular on our labs' works investigating structure-function relationships in the scales, armors, teeth, and skeletons of fishes, while also including examples of paleontological and medical applications. The range of available printing techniques—from powder-bed to UV-curable options—offers the ability for detailed, non-destructive morphological analysis via the scaling-up and printing of microCT-scanned specimens. Combining 3D printing with direct mechanical testing allows the querying of performance effects of existing anatomies, as well as exploring hypothetical morphologies and evolutionary pathways, via modifiable parametric modeling, printing and characterization, followed by verification through computational/analytical models. Furthermore, high-resolution, multi-material printers, with the ability to precisely deposit both rigid and elastomeric phases in a single part, permit rendering of local gradients in both material and shape properties, and therefore analyses of more complex biological morphologies (e.g. structural interfaces and material modulus gradients).

MAT1-2  10:00 am  Vertebrate skin in interaction with the environment: evolutionary solutions . Spinner M*, Kiel University, Zoological Institute
Abstract: Vertebrates have conquered a wide range of climate zones and habitats. This evolutionary process required concerted adaptations of the whole body, including the muscoskeletal system, metabolism, diet, sensory organs, and behaviour. The skin, which constitutes the interface between the organism and the surrounding medium, plays a key role in the organisms adaptation to their environment. It protects the animals against chemical and mechanical influences, contributes to thermal control and locomotion, and determines the optical appearance fostering camouflage and signaling. The range of the available skin material is, however, genetically determined and therefore limited within the vertebrate clades. The talk sheds light on specific skin adaptations in reptiles, teleost fishes, and mammals to ecological niches and extreme habitats. The focus of this talk is more specifically on epidermal microstructures and scales being of particular importance for the optical appearance and contact mechanics. Specific skin adaptation is here discussed in reptiles (are epidermal features involved in the locomotion of arboreal lizards? The reduction of limbs to a snake like body is a radical solution in reptiles to conquer new niches: how does the skin contributes to the "new" limbless locomotion? Structural colors are known in birds and insects, but do reptiles have structural colors?), mammals (Is mammal skin adapted to climbing?), and fishes (fish scales are well known for their protective functions and their optimizations to reduce drag: which adaptations can be observed in benthic fishes?).

MAT1-3  10:30 am  Bioinspired design and mechanical characterizations: a case for soft/flexible systems and living tissues. Li L, Harvard University; Crosby A.J.*, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Abstract: Many natural materials conform to complex topology while maintaining extreme mechanical robustness, a rare combination for synthetic materials. Key to such properties in biological systems is structural hierarchy, with distinct interactions between flexible, yet stiff, components. We discuss two examples that demonstrate the importance of multi-level mechanics in bioinspired materials design, as well as new approaches to quantifying mechanics in living systems. The first example is the development of gecko-inspired adhesives. Revelations with regard to synthetic design, as well as how natural climbing systems work, were found through a simple scaling theory, which highlights the importance of sub-surface mechanics in determining interfacial properties. Another example is based on flexible biological armor from the dorsal girdle scales within chitons. This composite system consists of three main components: aragonite-based scales, a soft tissue, and an assembly of mineralized microrods. A full 3D parametric model describes the geometry of scales, from which a new bio-inspired armor is developed to achieve simultaneous protection and locomotion flexibility. Although morphological data often lead bioinspired materials design, it is equally important to understand mechanical properties within biological systems. Current methods for measuring such properties in vivo are limited. We discuss approaches to quantify properties for soft tissues across a wide range of length scales. One method, called cavitation rheology, measures the critical pressure for delivering a volume of fluid within a tissue. The second method introduces nanoribbons that can be fabricated into grids or helices and integrated into soft tissues to measure strains. Overall, this presentation aims to emphasize the importance of sub-surface mechanics in bio-inspired materials systems, and new testing strategies for gaining better fundamental insight into these mechanics in living systems.

[back to schedule]