SUBJECT: M.S. Thesis Presentation
BY: Sulisay Phonekeo
TIME: Friday, July 24, 2015, 1:30 p.m.
PLACE: Love Building, 210
TITLE: How Fire Ants Self-assemble
COMMITTEE: Dr. David L. Hu, Chair (ME)
Dr. Craig Tovey (ISYE)
Dr. Jonathan Rogers (ME)


This study considers the construction and preservation of structures built by fire ants. The construction of shelter is a universal ability of living systems, and is manifested among caterpillar tents, bird nests, and primate nests. While much headway has been made into the principles of swarm behavior in bird flocks and schools of fish, less is understood about how systems can self-assemble to build temporary shelters. This study uses videography to show how fire ants can build structures much larger than themselves: by designing structures of particular shape and using the ability to self-heal to preserve the structures. We used micro scale observations to predict the construction of fire ant towers and conducted material testing on fire ant aggregate to quantify their physical properties. The mechanisms and rules for self-assemblages of fire ants may be useful to the studying cell aggregations and swarm robotics.