David Michael Pierce

Departments of Mechanical Engineering/Biomedical Engineering/Mathematics

University of Connecticut

David M. Pierce
Associate Professor

The driving interest of our research is to understand and predict the mechanics of soft tissues and engineering materials. Our current work employs theoretical, computational, and experimental tools to explore the interplay of form and function in cartilage, specifically the multiscale and multi-phase mechanics and how these evolve in health, damage, and disease. Working at the intersection of imaging, image analysis, biology, physiology, and experimental and computational mechanics, our lab's overarching aim is to establish a virtual human cartilage—a patient-specific analysis framework—to integrate diverse data, facilitate interdisciplinary collaborations, and accelerate testing of hypotheses, including those previously unapproachable. To this end, our team establishes novel experimental protocols and builds validated simulation tools that inform our understanding of the mechanics of cartilage, the complex progression of osteoarthritis, and clinical perspectives on causes, treatments, and possible preventions. Other work encompasses characterization and modeling of arteries and intraluminal thrombi and failure prediction and design tools for Si-based MEMS devices. Key contributions include: (1) measuring the mechanics and damage mechanics of cartilage and arteries to understand and model these tissues; (2) imaging and analyzing networks of collagen fibers to understand mechanics and damage mechanisms in soft tissues; (3) establishing and implementing image-driven constitutive models and finite element simulations of sample- and patient-specific cartilage; (4) determining theoretically consistent initial strain/stress states for finite element simulations of soft tissues to improve prediction fidelity; and (5) quantifying and predicting the reliability of MEMS and electronics systems to advance simulation-driven design.