When Andrew Schulz was a teenager, he visited Africa with his mother. While there, he fell in love with elephants. He was especially intrigued by the enormous animals’ most famous feature: their trunks. Elephants use their long, flexible noses to breathe, grasp food, and even suck up water.
Today, Schulz is a Ph.D. student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he is studying mechanical engineering. Inspired by his fondness for elephants, he decided to learn more about the biomechanics of their trunks. Biomechanics is the study of how living things move. Schulz was particularly curious about how the huge mammals use their trunks to eat. “It’s one of those things you always see, but no one really knows what’s going on,” he says.