Possibilities for students to work in our current projects at the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA)

Biomechanical properties of the cartilage elements of the feeding apparatus in cartilaginous fish
In contrast to bony fish, cartilaginous fish have a skeleton made of cartilage. While many cartilaginous fish feed on smaller fish and invertebrates, some of its representatives belong to the biggest predators of our oceans and can bite through the bones of marine mammals. How is this possible with a cartilaginous skeleton? Questions like this inspired us to gain deeper understanding of the biomechanical properties of the cartilaginous elements of the feeding apparatus. In this NSF project with Cheryl Wilga we compare different species of sharks, rays, chimaeras and sturgeons. A big part of the project are biomechanical measurements in the laboratory. We also build physical 3D models of the feeding apparatus and have just set up a shark tank in our vivarium, and will soon start working with living fish in our laboratory. 


Against the current - The impact of body shape on flow forces in benthic animals
Current is an important factor shaping aquatic environments. Aside from many positive aspects such as nutrient and food supply it can be challenging for aquatic animals to withstand this currents. In this study, we are interested in morphological adaptations of fish and stream insects, especially the interplay of body shape and the experienced flow forces. We are going to measure drag and lift forces for selected animal species in an artificial stream flume.



If you are studying biology, engineering or a related subject and would be interested in working with us in one of this projects, please contact Prof. Cheryl Wilga (cwilga@alaska.edu) or me (pditsche@alaska.edu) in person for further information.