Thesis subject

Show me your hands and I tell you who you are - Screening the toe pad morphology of Dutch amphibians

Within the 4TU project Soft Robotics, we aim to unravel the fundamental functioning of soft biological gripping systems to provide bioinspiration for the design of next-generation soft robots. Among others, we focus on the soft sticky toe pads of tree frogs, which enable these animals to safely grip even under challenging conditions (e.g. in a wet environment). This remarkable attachment performance renders tree frogs a fascinating model for development of biomimetic adhesive soft robots that can interact gently and flexibly with delicate and variable objects such as agricultural products.

Thesis content

The morphology of the adhesive toe pads of tree frogs is adapted both superficially and internally to the arboreal lifestyle of these animals. A lack of reference data on non-arboreal amphibians, however, prevents us from fully understanding the functional relevance of the different morphological features of tree frog toe pads. Therefore, you will map in this thesis the toe morphology of a range of Dutch amphibians with different lifestyles and habitats using histology and other visualisation techniques to broaden our understanding of their functional toe pad morphology.

Schematic depiction of a tree frog’s toe pad in lateral view show-ing structures and materials relevant to attachment (https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icaa037).
Schematic depiction of a tree frog’s toe pad in lateral view show-ing structures and materials relevant to attachment (https://doi.org/10.1093/icb/icaa037).

This MSc subject is available from 01/2021.

The following skills would be helpful for this project:

-          Knowledge in functional morphology

-          Knowledge in bioadhesion/biomechanics

-          Experience in histology and image analysis (e.g. ImageJ)

-          Experience with statistics

-          Steady hands

For questions or application (incl. CV and letter of motivation), please contact Julian Langowski via the contact form.

Examiner: Prof. Dr. Ir. Johan L. van Leeuwen
Supervisors: Julian Langowski
Contact: Julian Langowski (via contact form)
Begin date: 01/01/2021 (variable)
End date: 01/06/2021 (variable)
Credits: 36 ECTS (variable)
For: MSc Biology / Animal Science
Requirements: Successful completion of Functional Zoology (EZO 30806)
Used skills: Experimental design, Data management, Histology, Image recording and analysis, Scientific writing and presentation