Robert Wagner
Graduate Student • Vernerey Soft Matter Mechanics Group (Franck Vernerey)

Research Interests

Through multi-scale modeling techniques, we investigate the mechanical response and local-to-global property relationships of dynamic networks, whose inclusion of reversible bonds imbues these materials with viscoelastic properties and the ability to self-heal. Examples include physically-crosslinked gels, covalent adaptable networks, and most biological tissues. A fascinating subset of dynamic networks are active materials whose constituents additionally convert internally stored energy into mechanical work. Expanding our multi-scale approaches to living active systems, such as aggregations of fire ants, allows us to discern the local mechanisms that may drive globally emergent phenomena such as functional morphogenesis or strain-stiffening, thereby providing a rich source of biomimetic inspiration.

Selected Publications

  • Wagner, R. J. & Vernerey, F. J. "Computational exploration of treadmilling and protrusion growth observed in fire ant rafts," bioRxiv 2021.01.05.425514 (2021) doi:10.1101/2021.01.05.425514.

  • Wagner, R. J., Such, K., Hobbs, E. & Vernerey, F. J. "Treadmilling and dynamic protrusions in fire ant rafts," Journal of The Royal Society Interface 18, 20210213.
  • Vernerey, F. J., Shen, T., Sridhar, S. L. & Wagner, R. J. "How do fire ants control the rheology of their aggregations? A statistical mechanics approach," Journal of The Royal Society Interface 15, 20180642 (2018).