Faculty and Staff - Becky L. Woodward, Ph.D.
Research Assistant Professor
205 Boardman Hall
University of Maine
Orono , ME , 04469 -5711
Phone: (207) 581-2149
Fax: (207) 581-2379
Colorado State University Mechanical Engineering B.S. 1993
Colorado State University Mechanical Engineering M.S. 1998
University of Maine Mech. Eng. & Marine Science Ph.D. 2006
Biologically applied engineering design, development of new research tools & techniques for biological studies – particularly in the field of marine mammal research.
Dr. Woodward’s research is interdisciplinary in nature – bridging the gap between biology and engineering by applying mechanical engineering design principles to real world design problems. Much of her research to date has been in the field of marine mammal research, working to develop new tools for studying the behavior of whales. With their limited surface times and wide ranging movements in a three-dimensional world, whales provide a unique challenge for researchers. The whales inhabit a corrosive sea water environment which inhibits visual observations, and they dive to significant depths to forage under crushing pressures. Together these issues provide a number of design challenges for the development of tools to study the movements and behaviors of these animals. Recent research topics include:
1) Development of noninvasive tag packages, tag attachment mechanisms and tag deployment methods to study whale behavior and movement
- Design of a novel peduncle tag for medium to long-term tracking studies
- Design of a net gun/tail lasso tag deployment system
- Design of a low drag satellite telemetry buoy for tracking large whales at sea
- Refinement of crossbow deployment techniques of suction-cup attached tags
2) Modeling the abrasive impact of fishing gear on whale skin tissues as a means of understanding large whale entanglement injuries
- Design of both a straight pull and an oscillatory loading system to study skin/line interactions in a laboratory setting
- Comparison of skin abrasion resistance characteristics across species, body regions, and different age classes of animals
3) Examining morphological specializations of baleen whales associated with hydrodynamic performance and ecological niche
- Using external morphology to link control surface area with predicted swim performance
- Studying bone geometry to link vertebral design with skeletal flexibility and potential for maneuverability
- Using digital acoustic recording tags (DTAGs) to compare underwater swim behaviors of different whale species
Modeling whale entanglement injuries, morphological specializations of baleen whales associated with hydrodynamic performance and ecological niche, experimental modeling of large whale entanglement injuries, behavior in gray whales feeding off the central British Columbia Coast, refining crossbow deployment techniques of suction cup attached tags for cetacean studies.
Selected Journal Publications
• Winn JP, Woodward BL, Moore MJ, Peterson ML, Riley JG. 2008. Modeling whale entanglement injuries: An experimental study of tissue compliance, line tension, and draw-length. Marine Mammal Science . 24:326-340.
• Woodward BL, Winn JP, Fish FE. 2006. Morphological specializations of baleen whales associated with hydrodynamic performance and ecological niche. Journal of Morphology . 267:1284-1294.
• Woodward BL, Winn JP, Moore MJ, Peterson ML. 2006. Experimental modeling of large whale entanglement injuries. Marine Mammal Science . 22(2):299-310.
• Woodward BL, Winn JP. 2006. Apparent lateralized behavior in gray whales feeding off the central British Columbia Coast . Marine Mammal Science . 22(1):64-73.
• Woodward BL, Peterson ML, Winn JP. 2002. Refining crossbow deployment techniques of suction cup attached tags for cetacean studies. Marine Technology Society Journal . 36(2):50-57.