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Lab Affiliation(s):
Towing Tank Lab
Advisor:
Michael Triantafyllou
Areas of Expertise:
  • Experimental Fluid Mechanics
  • Biomimetics
  • Instrumentation
Expected date of graduation:
June 6, 2014

Heather Beem

  • PhD
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Department: 

  • Mechanical Engineering

Lab Affiliation(s): 

Towing Tank Lab

Advisor: 

Michael Triantafyllou

Top 3 Areas of Expertise: 

Experimental Fluid Mechanics
Biomimetics
Instrumentation

Expected date of graduation: 

June 6, 2014

CV: 

Thesis Title: 

Seal Whisker-Inspired Wake Sensing via Vortex-Induced Vibrations

Thesis Abstract: 

Harbor seals are able to follow the wake of a fish up to 30 seconds after it has passed. They can do so while blindfolded and wearing earmuffs, leaving their vibrissae (whiskers) as the sensory system most likely responsible for this tracking ability. The key to this sensing appears to lie in the vibrational response of the whiskers under different flow conditions.

 

In this thesis, the vibrations of model seal whiskers are measured in the lab under free vibration and forced vibration conditions. The unique shape of the seal whisker is found to passively reduce vortex-induced vibrations that would normally develop as a bluff body moves in a flow. This feature is incorporated into a new underwater sensor design that detects hydrodynamic wakes.

Top 5 Awards and honors (name of award, date received): 

Link Foundation Ocean Engineering and Instrumentation Fellowship, 2011
Department of Defense NDSEG Graduate Fellowship, 2008
MIT Presidential Fellowship, 2008
MIT Global Challenge/IDEAS Competition (Winner, $10K), 2011
MIT Graduate Student Teaching Certificate, 2012

5 Recent Papers: 

Beem, H., Hildner, M., Triantafyllou, M., 2013, "Calibration and validation of a harbor seal whisker-inspired flow sensor," Smart Materials and Structures, 22 014012. http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00348-011-1241-9

Beem, H.R., Rival, D.E., Triantafyllou, M.S. 2012, "On the stabilization of leading-edge vortices in spanwise flow," Experiments in Fluids, 52: 511-517. http://iopscience.iop.org/0964-1726/22/1/014012

Contact Information: