Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the Zoom link or join in person at Peace Valley Nature Center for January’s meeting Featuring Dr. Lorna Gibson with the presentation, Fantastic Feathers: Form and Function.
When we think of birds, we think of feathers. Feathers give birds their color, from the bright red of a male Cardinal to the iridescent reds and greens of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. Feathers keep birds warm and dry: down provides excellent insulation against heat loss and water really does roll off a duck’s back. Feathers form the aerodynamic shape of the wing, enabling flight. A Barn Owl’s flight feathers suppress sound, allowing it to fly nearly silently, while its ruff feathers reflect and focus sound into its ears, enabling the owl to hunt in total darkness by sound alone. This talk describes how the microscopic structure of feathers gives rise to their remarkable properties.
Dr. Gibson’s biography:
Professor Lorna J. Gibson is the Matoula S. Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT. Her research interests have focused on the mechanics of materials with a cellular structure such as engineering honeycombs and foams, natural materials such as wood, leaves and bamboo and medical materials such as spongy or trabecular bone and tissue engineering scaffolds for regenerating damaged or diseased tissues. She has won numerous teaching awards, including being appointed a MacVicar Faculty Fellow, MIT’s top award for undergraduate teaching.
Lorna is a birder and, with MITx, MIT’s online education department, she made a video series on how woodpeckers avoid brain injury (Built to Peck, available on YouTube). She has given talks on how birds work from an engineering perspective for Mass. Audubon, the National Audubon Society, and the Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University, as well as at MIT, Harvard University, Brown University, Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology and Princeton University.