Reducing structural error in function generating mechanisms via the addition of large numbers of double-crank linkages

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.S. in Mechanical Engineering


Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


Advisor: Andrew P. Murray


Blow flies are members of the family Calliphoridae, specifically Lucilia sericata, are important to forensic investigations by aiding in the determination of a post-mortem interval, or the time elapsed since the expiration of a living organism. Decomposing organic material is a source of nourishment and is key to the normal development of the blow fly; without a nutritive source the eggs will often fail to hatch, and the larvae will fail to pupate. Nutrition is not only vital for proper larval development, but also for physiological maintenance in adults. It is known that a protein meal is essential for sexual maturation in female blow flies, although it is typical to find both males and females near and on decomposing material. Seeking to understand effect of sex, age, and diet on the gustatory and olfactory response attraction of blow flies, four studies were undertaken. First, to establish common practices with regard to raising and breeding blow flies, nine variations of the three most prevalently used diets were compared for increased fecundity and lifespan. The goal of this study was to not only help establish a common culture practice for forensic entomology, but also to aid in colony establishment for medical entomological colonies used for maggot debridement therapy, and to have a basis of knowledge from which to perform behavioral studies. The diet was then tested to examine whether protein supplementation could affect the macrostructure of both the male and female adults. Six decomposition-related amino acids and two sugar sources (in water) were tested on the gustatory response of L. sericata males and females fed either a diet of honey water only, or one supplemented with protein, utilizing the proboscis extension reflex (PER) assay to determine differences in the behavior of the sexes associated with the stimulus. Also examined was the olfactory response of both male and female flies fed either a diet of honey water only, or one supplemented with protein, utilizing the electroantennogram to establish whole neural depolarizations in response to a challenge with one of five decomposition-related volatile organic compounds. A number of important hypotheses, and applications have been proposed from the results of this research that will impact forensic, medical, and classical entomology. Utilizing a common diet consisting of honey-water and a broad-spectrum protein source, such as bovine liver, will allow for continuous and replicable culture of laboratory colonies of Lucilia sericata in conditions similar to those found in the natural environment. Details of the post-eclosion adult female and male time line as affected by the consumption of protein should help inform post-mortem interval estimation. Combining data from the diet and morphometric studies with the olfactory and gustatory sensing findings allows insight into whether Calliphorid sensing occurs at the local level of the sensilla or at a higher processing level in the antennal lobe of the cephalic ganglion.


Cranks and crankshafts, Links and link-motion, Machinery, Kinematics of, Periodic functions, Mechanical Engineering

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Copyright © 2015, author