Posted March 17th, 2016
Professor of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Maurizio Porfiri was invited to edit the European Physical Journal’s special-topics volume on the dynamics of animal systems.
Published in December 2015, the volume includes 20 peer-reviewed scholarly papers relating to the field of animal dynamics, which involves the study of how animals move, navigate their environment, and interact. The papers are categorized into three areas of interest: the physics of locomotion, where the mechanics underlying the locomotion of organisms is studied; the physics of social interaction, which covers mathematical models and analysis of collective animal behavior and predator-prey interactions in nature; and applied physics and robotics, which involves the design of engineering systems that are inspired in their form and function by animals.
The volume is expected to generate significant interest among the physics, mathematics, biology, and engineering audiences of the European Physical Journal, and Porfiri and his fellow editors also hope to inspire junior researchers to initiate graduate study in the emerging field. Porfiri has already been just such an inspiration. Nicole Abaid, a co-editor, was once a student of his at Tandon; she is now a professor at Virginia Tech.
Porfiri, who co-authored two of the included papers as well as the introductory essay, heads Tandon’s Dynamical Systems Laboratory, where his area of focus is on interdisciplinary underwater applications. In 2010 he was named to the Popular Science “Brilliant 10” list for young scientists, for his work on biologically inspired robots. Sachit Butail, the other co-editor, is a former postdoctoral research fellow at the lab.