Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2022

Author's School

McKelvey School of Engineering

Author's Department

Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Cilia are microscopic cellular appendages that help us breathe by clearing our airways, maintain the health of our central nervous system by circulating cerebrospinal fluid, and allow us to reproduce by transporting eggs and propelling sperm cells. Cilia even determine the asymmetry of our internal organs during embryonic development. However, the mechanisms underlying ciliary beating are not fully understood. Questions remain as to how arrays of the motor protein dynein generate the propulsive waveforms observed in cilia and how structural elements within the cilium and its connection to the cell deform during beating. In the current work, mathematical modeling, analysis, and simulation are applied to answering these questions in three related aims: (i) a mathematical model of ciliary beating driven by steady dynein forces solved by linear stability analysis of custom finite-element equations; (ii) a model of the basal body and cilium created in commercial finite-element software and solved using a geometrically-nonlinear time-domain solver; and (iii) a custom software tool written for automated tracing of ciliary imaging, and applied to the analysis of beating cilia. Through these aims, I estimated properties of the cilium and basal body, supported the plausibility of a model of ciliary beating, and gained insight into the motility of cilia on pancreatic beta cells.


English (en)


Philip V. Bayly

Committee Members

Susan K. Dutcher, Guy M. Genin, John M. Meacham, David A. Peters,