After graduation, Dr. Fish offered me a position in his lab at West Chester University as a technician for six months and, subsequently, a master’s student studying propulsion in cetaceans. As a technician, I was responsible for making sure that experiments ran smoothly and specimens arrived promptly. If a new piece of equipment entered the lab, I would spend time learning its procedures and teaching them to Dr. Fish and the other lab personnel. During one of the experiments on cetacean tail flukes, I observed that the dense internal material contained collagenous fibers oriented in a criss-crossing pattern that seemed to convey anisotropy.
When I transitioned into a graduate position, I expanded this observation into a multi-species comparison of the morphology and material properties of the cetacean tail fluke. This work is ongoing and has given me the chance to practice useful techniques such as microscopy, μCT scanning, and mechanical testing.
The first portion of this research has been written up for publication in the Journal of Morphology (Gough et al. 2018).