Published: Oct. 11, 2016

Doug FankellCongratulations to PhD student Doug Fankell, who has been named the 2016/2017 Thomas & Brenda Geers Graduate Fellowship recipient!

The fellowship honors graduate students conducting thesis work in solid and/or fluid mechanics who exhibit extraordinary capabilities and potential.

Fankell is a fourth year PhD student in professor Mark Rentschler's group. He is focused on studying, understanding, and extending current applications of tissue fusion. His researches emphasized mechanisms of tissue bond fusion through applied pressure and temperature profile variations. 

Fankell’s early contributions looked into numerical modeling of tissue stress and strain under compression, coupled with heat transfer modeling during tissue fusion. His work has been verified with experimental studies and he is now expanding these models to optimize vascular fusion device designs, and explore novel applications including subcutaneous and wearable personal electronics. 

In fact, Fankell’s numerical finite element modeling work now accurately predicts arterial tissue fusion using material property, time, pressure, and temperature inputs. This includes not only prediction of entire artery fusion, but also artery cutting and precisely which regions within the tissue that will fuse or cut first. More recently, his efforts have focused on developing and implementing a full multi-phase, multi-physics model which combines the heat and mass transfer of water being rapidly vaporized with the structural mechanics of porous arterial walls. 

Fankell has two published conference papers and two published journal papers, with two additional journal papers on the topic in preparation.

Last summer, Fankell was selected to attend a 10-week Los Alamos National Laboratory Computational Physics Student Summer Workshop. At Los Alamos, his research focused on super time-stepping related to shock wave dynamics. He is now incorporating this knowledge into a novel theory of thermo-poromechanics related to tissue fusion. Understanding the impact of thermally and mechanically loaded biological tissue to supraphysiological levels is increasing in importance as tissue-device interactions become more prevalent – especially for the design of wearable electronics.