Seminar: Locomotion at low Reynolds numbers

Dr Gemma Cupples, University of Birmingham

Very low Reynolds number propulsion is a topic of enduring interest due to its importance in biological systems such as sperm migration in the female reproductive tract. I will talk about two different aspects of this topic, a theoretical investigation into propulsion in complex fluids and a software built to analyse sperm cell propulsion.

Motivated by the fibrous nature of cervical mucus we extend Taylor’s classical model of small-amplitude zero-Reynolds-number propulsion of a ‘swimming sheet’ via the transversely isotropic fluid model of Ericksen. In the first section of this talk I will discuss the predictions of the model for both passive and active cases, noting that the energetic costs of swimming are significantly altered by all rheological parameters and the initial fibre angle.

 In the second section of the talk I will introduce the work we have been doing on high-throughput computational image analysis of sperm, and the way in which the information we generate can be used in conjunction with mathematical modelling to better understand behaviour. I will discuss tracking and analysis of the flagellar waveform for a large number of cells in an automated fashion, as well as the statistical approaches we can use to achieve a simple representation of the flagellar waveform for analysis.

Monday, December 17, 2018 at 2:15pm

Regents Hall, 351
3700 O St. NW

Event Type

Academic Events


Georgetown College, Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology


Dr. Gemma Cupples, University of Birmingham, UK

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