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Mark Denny

Title:Professor
Primary Affiliation:Earth Systems Program
Office Location:Hopkins Marine Station

Biographical Information

Mark W. Denny received his Ph.D. from the University of British
Columbia. He has worked out the molecular biomechanics of some molluscan
mucus secretions, and the consequences for the structure and motion of
gastropods.

Research

Currently, research in Professor Denny's laboratory
centers on the mechanical design of intertidal organisms. This subject
is studied at many different levels of organization, from the molecular
through the material, structural and organismal to the ecological. Of
particular interest is the role of hydrodynamic forces in determining
mechanical design. Transducers have been developed to measure water
velocities and accelerations and the forces imposed on intertidal plants
and animals. Properties such as the adhesive tenacities of the
organisms are measured. These data then provide a method for calculating
the mechanical limits to size, the "safety factors" used by limpets and
barnacles, and the potential "disturbability" of these organisms as a
function of season, wave height and microhabitat. The biological
interactions among intertidal organisms have been well studied, and
Professor Denny's approach promises interesting insights into the
importance of mechanical factors in intertidal ecology and in the
evolution of invertebrates and macroalgae.

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