Gemma has many research interests in the area of non-Newtonian fluid mechanics.
Gemma worked jointly with Linear Diagnostics Ltd to maximise the signal to noise ratio for flows of particle suspensions in thin rectangular channels. This involved a combination of experimental work and analytical and numerical solution to the coupled non-Newtonian flow equations and a Fokker-Planck equation governing fibre distribution.
Alongside Dave Smith and Rosemary Dyson, Gemma developed analytical solutions adapting Taylor’s classical swimming sheet model to account for an active aligned suspension of elongated particles. These suspensions relate to the fibrous cervical mucus of many internally fertilising species; the efficiency of sperm propulsion through cervical mucus is an important factor in fertilisation. They deduced that propulsion in this media was drastically different from Newtonian fluids, with certain particle configurations providing an easier pathway for propulsion. This lead to Gemma’s current research project investigating the automation of tracking sperm flagella.
Connections between active and transversely-isotropic media
Alongside Craig Holloway, Rosemary Dyson and Dave Smith at the University of Birmingham, Ed Green at the University of Adelaide and Richard Clarke at the University of Auckland, Gemma investigated links between active suspensions of elongated particles and Ericksen’s transversely-isotropic model, describing fluids with a preferred direction.