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What happens when a resting water strider is bludgeoned by a falling raindrop?

2024, PNAS

The familiar water strider has received intrigue for its unique locomotion, but this study is the first to consider their fate in the face of energetic raindrop impacts. We identify a seemingly ignored drop impact feature, a second crater, formed following the descent of the rebounding jet, whose retraction produces a water surface acceleration strong enough to leave the water strider below the surface, submerged. We reveal the morphological features that enable striders to survive the onslaught of violent rainfall that, in addition to superhydrophobicity, include passivity and the ability to resurface by swimming. Over the timescales of impact, striders and plastics of comparable size are nearly indistinguishable. Our results lay a foundation for the transport of other floating debris subsurface.

Pendant drops
Pendant drops wiggle in a wind tunnel
Impactors with channels hasten cavity pinchoff
Channeled impactos
Fur flutters in flow!
Fur flutters in flow.png

Have you ever seen algae or slime growing on a beaver or otter? No! Animal fur is antifouling! The antifouling nature of fur is multiphysical, complex, and best characterized by a large combination of variables.

Fouling of fur

Raindrop oscillation has been studied, but here we tether drops to the end of a needle in a vertical wind tunnel and study how the oscillate a deform.

We've taken the classical spherical impactor and bored a hole through it. The hole allows a jet to form with modulates the dynamics of impact.

Microjet tuning with surface channel surface coatings

A very fruitful collaboration with David Fernandez Rivas and his team at the University of Twente!

Microscale glass channels produce microjets when a laser boils a portion of liquid at the channel end. We change how the jets break apart and their trajectory by putting hydrophobic strips on the hydrophilic glass.




I am an NSF CAREER award recipient and fluid dynamicist with expertise in the mechanics of interfaces and interested in the biomechanics of animal locomotion. My work in these areas has generated broad interest across the fields of engineering, biology and robotics, resulting in publications in a number in high-impact interdisciplinary journals such as the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Journal of the Royal Society Interface, as well as popular journals such as Physics of Fluids.

Over the years, my research has also played a role in educating the public in science and engineering. I have been an invited guest on numerous television and radio shows to discuss my research, including Good Morning America, National Public Radio, The Weather Channel, and Discovery Channel.

Full CV


Google Scholar


University of Tennessee Knoxville, Assistant Professor, August 2021

University of Central Florida, Assistant Professor, August 2016 – July 2021
Meggitt PLC, Senior Engineer, Global Programme Jan 2014 – July 2016


Georgia Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering, PhD 2014
Georgia Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering, MSME 2012
Georgia Institute of Technology, Mechanical Engineering, BSME 2009

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