New Project: Keeping the Trees Safe

It’s April 2018 and I’m looking forward to working again with Olivia and David Hackett (and now also with my colleague Conor Buckley). Our new project is centred around the Oregon Maples in Front Square, but it will have consequences for all the big trees on the campus. David and his team are constantly keeping an eye on the trees to make sure they are safe and won’t fall down in the next storm. The risk assessments they do are difficult and require a lot of expertise; these days they get help from some high-tech scanning equipment called sonic tomography, which can literally “see” inside a tree. I hope to help them by using engineering computer software to make simulations of the trees to predict how strong they are and how they might fail. The software is called Finite Element Analysis. We already applied the same methods to something very different – predicting the strength of exoskeletons in insects and crabs. So here goes!

David T