We want to understand how microscopic swimmers navigate in complicated flow fields where the ambient fluid flow speed is much greater than their swimming speed. Up to now, the motility of these organisms, ranging from bacteria to small planktonic animals, has been studied in still water. While this is an important first step, it is essential to connect the motion in still fluid to the locomotion of organisms in their more complicated natural environments. In flowing water, these organisms are carried by the flow around them and can make only minor adjustments to their trajectory by swimming or sinking. However, if these minor adjustments are applied strategically, they may take advantage of the flow to direct the organism to desirable habitats.
Project end date: 02/20/14