SICB Annual Meeting 2014
January 3-7, 2014
Austin, TX

Symposium: Shaking, dripping and drinking: surface-tension phenomena in organismal biology

The subject of this symposium is surface-tension phenomena, or the physics of fluid interfaces on the small-scale. Such interactions are ubiquitous in organismal biology, but have not yet received a unified treatment. In trees, surface tension governs the flow of xylem fluid; in fungi, it governs the ejection of spores via Buhler's drop. Insects exploit surface tension by drinking through probosci and adhering to surfaces through fluid drops in their feet. Among microbes, surface tension enables surface active microorganisms to disperse via drops and bubbles. Such dispersion can be beneficial, as in the case of life-promoting biomaterial in the surf zone, or deleterious, as in the case of disease-inducing pathogens in confined environments. In larger animals, surface tension is used to maintain water-repellency within the feathers of birds. While these organisms are disparate, the physics used to analyze them is the same, and provides a powerful tool for the SICB community.

This symposium will provide the SICB community a recent overview of surface tension physics and its applications in organismal biology. In parallel, the symposium will facilitate collaborations between SICB members and the speakers, mostly junior physical scientists and mathematicians, who draw inspiration from biology to their work. Subsequent publication by the speakers will further increase the visibility of this area to the SICB community.

The symposium will particularly support and encourage young researchers withfluid dynamics and modeling backgrounds to become familiar with SICB and investigate problems with applications in biology. Simultaneously, the symposium will provide a forum where regular SICB attendees can use recent advances in the theory and understanding of surface-tension driven mechanisms to answer questions within their own fields of biomechanics, ecology and development.

Sponsors: SICB - DCB, DIZ, DVM; AMS


  • Lydia Bourouiba (MIT)
  • David Hu (Georgia Tech)
  • Rachel Levy (Harvey Mudd College)


S10.1-1 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 07:45 BOUROUIBA, Lydia: Disease transmission through the lens of fluid fragmentation

S10.1-2 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 08:11 BURTON, L.J.*; BUSH, J.W.M.: Biomimicry and the culinary arts

S10.1-3 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 08:37 GILET, T.*; BOUROUIBA, L.: Rain-operated foliar disease transmission

S10.1-4 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 09:03 MAYSER, M.J.*; BARTHLOTT, W.; GILET, T.: The hairy, superhydrophobic surfaces on the water fern Salvinia – underwater air retention and raindrop impacts

S10.2-1 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 09:50 BIRD, J.C.: From bouncing drops to draining bubbles: the influence of biological features on capillary flow

S10.2-2 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 10:16 LEVY, R*; SWANSON, E; DANIELS, K; STRICKLAND, S: Surface tension in human lungs: modeling and experiments

S10.2-4 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 11:08 PRAKASH, M*; MUKUNDARAJAN, H: Insect Flight on a Fluid Interfaces and Chaotic Oscillators

S10.2-5 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 11:34 HU, David*; DICKERSON, Andrew; YANG, Patricia: To eject a drop, from wet-dog shaking to urination


S10.3-3 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 14:30 JUNG, Wonjong; KIM, Wonjung; KIM, Ho-Young*: Self-burial mechanics of hygroscopically responsive awns

S10.3-4 Tuesday, Jan. 7, 15:00 MAKI, K.L.*; ROSS, D.S.; HOLZ, E.K.: A New Model for the Suction Pressure Under the Contact Lens