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Hu seminar flier

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Learn how insects like fire ants and black soldier fly larvae can teach us in the creation of synthetic systems in this seminar hosted by mechanical engineering Assistant Professor Spring Berman. 

Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Seminar: Fire ants build a raft in two minutes, grubs eat a pizza in two hours
Presented by David Hu, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biology and Adjunct Professor of Physics, Georgia Institute of Technology

Friday, April 13, 2018
10:45 a.m.
Schwada Classroom and Office Building (SCOB) 150, Tempe campus [map]


The world can be a dangerous place, especially if you are an insect.

In the wetlands of Brazil, fire ants link their bodies together to build waterproof rafts. The rafts can bounce off rocks or flow around twigs, exhibiting both liquid and solid behavior from the ants rearranging their bodies.

Rearrangement is also important for black soldier fly larvae, which are the dominant scavengers of animal carcasses. These grubs can eat an entire pizza in two hours. 

Hu and his research team film insects using time-lapse video and measure their forces using rheometers and force platforms. The speed and versatility of these biological materials may provide inspiration for synthetic systems.

About the speaker

David Hu is a mechanical engineer who studies the interactions of animals with water. His team has discovered how dogs shake dry, how insects walk on water and how eyelashes protect the eyes from drying.

Originally from Rockville, Maryland, he earned degrees in mathematics and mechanical engineering from MIT, and is now Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biology and Adjunct Professor of Physics at Georgia Tech.

He is a recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER award for young scientists, the Ig Nobel Prize in Physics and the Pineapple Science Prize (the Ig Nobel of China).

Hu serves on the editorial board of Nature Scientific Reports and The Journal of Experimental Biology.

His work has been featured in The Economist, The New York Times, Saturday Night Live and Highlights for Children.

In a Scientific American article, Confessions of a Wasteful Scientist, Hu defended basic research.

He lives with his wife Jia and children Harry and Heidi in Atlanta, Georgia.

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