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In what his research mentor calls “an interdisciplinary tour de force,” senior Marquis Scholar Bruce Adcock of Watervliet, N.Y., is helping create a mathematical model of a swimming fish.

Adcock, a graduate of Shaker High School, is participating in Lafayette’s EXCEL Scholars program, in which students collaborate closely with faculty members on research projects while earning a stipend. He’s assisting Rob Root, associate professor of mathematics, in using mathematical modeling reflects the essential nature of a swimming fish.

“Professor Root has been working on creating a viable model of how fish swim,” says Adcock, a math major with a minor in Japanese. “He already has one model but is interested in seeing what other possibilities there are. I’ve been working with him in building the equations for the model. He has given me a lot of freedom in that regard.”

Root says Adcock has made many valuable contributions. “Bruce’s work is an interdisciplinary tour de force. He begins with an understanding of the anatomy of fish and how they use their muscles to generate force. This leads to physics, in particular mechanical dynamics, whose laws he applies to determine how the fish deforms in response to the forces.

“Bruce is accomplished at using the model to simulate the motion of a swimming fish,” Root continues. “This requires a little bit of numerical analysis, the branch of mathematics that studies how computers can be used to accurately estimate the solutions to problems, and real facility at computer programming.”

Root is hopeful that Adcock may attend the Sixth International Congress on Vertebrate Morphology next summer in Germany to share his results with the biological community, in particular with scholars of biomechanics.

Adcock says the research has a direct bearing on his future plans. “It sounded like an interesting project, and I haven’t been disappointed. Doing EXCEL research has taught me I really want to continue doing research and with any luck be a professor someday.

“One of the really nice things about Lafayette is that as an undergraduate, I can be involved in research,” Adcock continues. “In fact, many people I know who go to larger universities are surprised to hear of the interaction between the professors and the students here.”

Adcock is secretary of the Lafayette chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national honorary society for men and women studying mathematics. He the recipient of Lafayette’s Benjamin F. Barge Mathematical Prize, which is awarded annually to first-year student(s) or members of the sophomore class in recognition of excellence in mathematics.

Categorized in: Academic News