September 23, 2022
Professor Saverio Spagnolie
Abstract: Many microorganisms must navigate strange biological environments whose physics are unique and counter-intuitive, with wide-ranging consequences for evolutionary biology and human health. Mucus, for instance, behaves like both a fluid and an elastic solid. This can affect locomotion dramatically, which can be beneficial (e.g. for mammalian spermatozoa swimming through cervical fluid) or problematic (e.g. the Lyme disease spirochete B. burgdorferi swimming through the extracellular matrix of human skin). Mathematical modeling and numerical simulations continue to provide insight about the biological world in and around us and point toward new possibilities in biomedical engineering. We will discuss analytical and numerical insights into swimming through model viscoelastic (Oldroyd-B) and liquid-crystalline (Ericksen-Leslie) fluids, with a special focus on the important and in some cases dominant roles played by the presence of nearby boundaries.