AB Dartmouth College, Biology
PhD University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Biology
Overview of current research:
We are currently investigating the nature of the adhesive secretions of a variety of molluscs. These are gels: they consist of a dilute, tangled network of polymers. These adhesives are neither truly solid, like a cement, nor fluid, like the water under a sucker. For lack of a better term, they are often referred to as mucus. The structure of these gels varies widely, however, and the catch-all term "mucus" is probably inappropriate. The function of these gels varies widely as well. Some gels are outstanding lubricants. Some are excellent adhesives. Intriguingly, it appears that many molluscs can convert a slippery gel into a powerful adhesive. Thus, we are comparing the structure of different adhesive gels with the goal of determining the functional significance of structural features.
My contribution to the development of a novel medical glue was highlighted this summer by articles in the Smithsonian Magazine, Science News, PBS and The Washington Post. (See articles below.)
I was a guest on the show "Tell Me Something I Don't Know", a podcast hosted by Stephen J. Dubner, co-author of Freakonomics.
The episode was called "All about bugs (of the animal and computer varieties)" (episode 32). The episode was aired on Oct.22 and is available at the website http://tmsidk.com/.
IC News has a full article on this entitled, "Ithaca College Slug Goo Researcher Andy Smith Wins Game Show".
If you interested in conducting research in my lab, then please click here:
- Summer and Academic Year research
- If you need more information on the procedures to enroll for research credit then follow this link:
Information on the procedures to conduct research.