The Department of Mechanical Engineering is home to a wide range of personalities and stories. One professor with an interesting background and field of expertise is Dr. Erik Anderson. Graduating from Gordon College with a Bachelor’s degree in Physics and Biology, he went on to pursue a Master’s in Biology and eventually a Ph.D. in Ocean Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dr. Anderson has spent years researching bio-mechanics (or marine organism propulsion), how marine organisms move in the ocean.
This field has many fascinating engineering implications. Dr. Anderson stressed to me that his research is not necessarily focused on searching for answers. Rather, he is studying marine creatures’ movement in order to hopefully lend insight to engineering breakthroughs, similarly to how Velcro was developed. For example, a home ceiling fan was created to mimic the movement of a jellyfish, in order to cool down a room more efficiently. Other applications of bio-mechanics include marine resource management. In studying how much energy a fish needs to survive, the amount of food to keep the animals alive can be calculated. Once this is is discovered, scientists can discover how many fish an ecosystem can effectively sustain.
Dr. Anderson is very passionate about his work. He explained to me that he has always enjoyed fluid mechanics and mathematics, and began fishing at the age of four. Bio-mechanics is the perfect blend of these interests, for he even has the opportunity to fish on the ocean in order to obtain specimens to study. If you have any interest in this field, you should reach out to Dr. Anderson. He often allows students to work alongside him who have demonstrated strong skills, a desire to learn, and an interest in bio-mechanics. Abby Noll, a senior mechanical engineering major, has spent multiple summers working alongside Dr. Anderson at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Perhaps his research may be of interest to you!