SUBJECT: Ph.D. Proposal Presentation
BY: Olga Shishkov
TIME: Wednesday, October 25, 2017, 9:00 a.m.
PLACE: Love Building, 109
TITLE: Biomechanics of Black Soldier Fly Larvae
COMMITTEE: Dr. David Hu, Chair (ME)
Dr. Cyrus Aidun (ME)
Dr. Magnus Egerstedt (ME)
Dr. Peter Yunker (Physics)
Dr. John Brady (ChE)


Black soldier fly larvae are edible, nutritious insects that are a potential method for bioconverting tons of food waste to sustainable protein. The current methods for raising them have little physical or biological basis. In this thesis, we propose studying the collective behavior and thermodynamics of these larvae. We measure group and individual eating rates of fly larvae, use tracking and force measurements to investigate their eating dynamics, and find out how larvae overheat and how to cool them efficiently. Our preliminary results show that larvae eating rates are limited by the surface area of the food. Feeding larvae form a zone of high mixing around food. Aggregations of larvae exert an active pressure through their collective motion, which can be modeled with statistical physics. Our thermodynamic analysis and cooling experiments determine that larvae generate heat, and that aeration is very effective in cooling them. We propose to investigate if larvae can mix to increase eating rates and how their feeding behavior affects the active pressure they exert. We are also designing an aerating bed for cooling these larvae. By studying black soldier fly larvae, we learn ideal techniques for using them for bioconversion and gain an insight into active matter and collective dynamics.