Reverse-engineering the biomechanics of nature

Brooke Flammang is following in the footsteps of the Swiss engineer who invented Velcro after studying the burrs that stuck to his clothing during a walk in the woods. 

An assistant professor of biology in NJIT’s College of Science and Liberal Arts, Dr. Flammang is focusing on the remora fish, specifically the biological mechanism on the remora’s head that enables it to grip onto the bodies of fast-moving hosts, then release quickly when survival necessitates.

By studying the disc-shaped feature that enables the remora to latch onto the varied surfaces of sharks, rays, dolphins, sea turtles and even other remoras, Flammang’s team in the Fluid Locomotion Laboratory discovered a complex mechanism that includes a modified fin structure with tiny spikes that generate friction to adhere to the host.

Understanding the mechanics of this process could help researchers and engineers create designs for a range of devices that stick well and release easily, including pain-free bandages and tags for tracking endangered species that are less harmful than barbs and more effective than suction alone.

.

Delve
Deeper

One-on-One With Steve Adubato

Ocean Wildlife Influences Water Robotics at NJIT – One-on-One With Steve Adubato

Learn more.

YouTube

Remoras Don’t Suck: Their Iconic Clinch is Far More Complex

Learn more.

YouTube

Brooke Flammang

Learn more.

YouTube

Researchers Find Fish That Walks the Way Land Vertebrates Do

Learn more.

Brooke Flammang
Assistant Professor of Biology, College of Science and Liberal Arts, and Director of the Fluid Locomotion Laboratory at NJIT

INVESTMENTS

RESEARCH

TALENT

RANKINGS