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Snakes that jump and fly, and other oddities

Dr. Jake Socha
Virginia Tech | Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics
Seminar date:
Monday, November 27, 2023 - 12:30 to 13:15
HCK 132

Flying snakes are perhaps the world’s most unconventional gliders, turning their body into a wing by changing shape and undulating in the air. In this talk, I’ll discuss our experimental and theoretical efforts to understand the biomechanical features that underly this unique form of flight. Some of these specializations, such as jumping to cross gaps, also appear in sister taxa, suggesting that some aspects of their glide system were evolutionarily co-opted. I’ll also talk about our research on some curious behaviors discovered along the way, like the weird way that flying snakes and close relatives stick out their tongues.

Dr. Jake Socha is the Samuel Herrick Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics at Virginia Tech. He earned B.S. degrees in physics and biology from Duke University in 1994 and a Ph.D. in biology (with a focus on biomechanics) from the University of Chicago in 2002. After graduate school, he was the Ugo Fano Postdoctoral Fellow at Argonne National Laboratory, studying internal flow systems in insects using synchrotron x-ray imaging at the Advanced Photon Source. His research program at Virginia Tech combines both interests, investigating the biomechanics and functional morphology of flows in and around organisms. Prior to entering science, he was a member of the Teach for America national teacher corps, serving as the sole high school science teacher at Centerville High School in southern Louisiana.

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