Links to other pages in this course website:



Syllabus/Home Page contents:

Course Description

Honors Option

Class Structure


Grading Policy

Course Policy

All material on this course website is subject to change without notice.

BIOEN 326, Autumn 2014
Solid and Gel Biomechanics

Syllabus and Home Page

Course Description

UW General Catalog Course Description: Solid mechanics and interactions of biological structures and medical materials. Emphasis on the relationships between composition, structure, properties and performance of metals and ceramics, synthetic and natural macromolecules, cells, tissues and self assembling systems.


This course introduces the mechanical behavior of biological and medical structures and materials, from the continuum description of properties to the atomistic and molecular mechanisms that confer those properties. Subjects include elastic and viscoelastic deformation, failure and adhesion of metals, ceramics, polymers and biological structures. Measurement methods and quantitative analytic and numerical models will be applied to these topics. This course will also introduce principles of how biological and nonbiological materials interact, such as protein adsorption to surfaces and mechanical sensing of material stiffness.

Textbook is highly recommended but not required.

  • Mechanics of Materials, Brief Edition, by James M. Gere. (c) 2011. SI units version is recommended. Other editions of this text will also suffice, but other texts by the same name by other authors will not.
  • Unsure whether to buy the text? The first 6 weeks of class closely follow the text, while the last 4 weeks cover more biological topics not addressed in Gere. Comments from students last year were split about 50/50; half gave comments like "I barely touched the Gere textbook ... The lecture notes were enough to study from" while half said things like "the textbook had great material for homework help and exam review. The book was a much easier read than any of the other BIOE core class textbooks," or "...there were times when the concept is too hard to understand and I had to read both the textbook and your notes to have a full understanding. Also the text book serves as a great exercise book with all the practice problems at the end of the chapter."
  • Additional electronic readings will be indicated with links on the schedule page of this web site.

Course Objectives:

By the end of the course, students should be able to:

  • Identify the biomolecular basis of linear and nonlinear viscoelastic material properties of cells, tissues, and biomaterials.
  • Use engineering formulae to relate experimental results to models and theoretical calculations for elastic and viscoelastic materials.
  • Develop and solve ODE models of static and dynamic biomechanical systems to solve biological problems.
  • Develop a basic understanding of mechanotransduction, including the integrin biology of cell adhesion
  • Understand principle of adhesion between materials, of which at least one is biological.
  • Learn and apply skills for independently evaluating scholarly work

Topics Covered:

  1. Molecular basis of materials properties.
  2. Stress, strain, and intrinsic materials properties.
  3. Mechanical properties of linear elastic materials.
  4. Plasticity, failure, and strength
  5. Viscoelastic materials
  6. Biological adhesive mechanics
  7. Mechanotransduction

Ad-Hoc Honors Option

Students interested in an ad-hoc honors option should contact Wendy Thomas. She would like to work with interested honors students to read original research articles, discuss their relationship to the course, and gain inspiration from the articles to develop a new homework problem for next year's class that applies the class material to current research. We would meet every other week for discussions, while the students would do some reading and brainstorming as well as problem-solving and editing outside of these meetings.

Class Structure and Organization

Instructor: Wendy Thomas
Office: BIOE N430P
e-mail: wendyt@
Phone: (206)616-3947

Hourly Assistants:

  • Fablina Sharara (fsharara@)
  • Yingqiang Bu (yingqb@)

Class Meeting Times and Location:
Lecture: MWF 10:30-11:20 SMI 102

Final Exam: Monday, December 08, 2014, 8:30-10:20 AM, SMI 102

Office Hours:

  • Fablina and Yingqiang: 5 - 7 pm Tuesdays
  • Wendy: 1:30 to 2:30 pm Mondays

Viewing links on web site: Many of the course documents are not available to the general public and are password protected. You can access them by following instructions to log in with your UW net ID if you are enrolled in the class. If your UW net ID doesn't work, tell Wendy at by email from your UW net ID account and let her know if you enrolled in the class within the past few days. Also, most of the readings and assingments are in Adobe Acrobat which you can download for free.


Prerequisites and Recommended Background

Prerequisites by Course:

CHEM 142; 152; 162; PHYS 122; BIOEN 315

Prerequisites by Topic:

  • Biochemistry or Biomolecular Engineering,
  • Physics (Mechanics and Oscillatory Motion),
  • General Chemistry

A familiarity with the following is also suggested as all core bioengineering students have taken this material as prereqs or correqs, so it will be used as needed:

  • advanced calculus
  • differential equations
  • linear algebra
  • mathematical programming


Assignments and Grading Policy

Assignments and exams will be assigned points, but are scaled just like our grade points; 75% = 3.0 = B, etc. The final course grade is a weighted average of your scores according to the following formula:

Catalyst GradeBook (see link above) will be used to publish scores. Go to the grade book and log in with your UW NetID and password. You can only view your own scores. Please alert an instructor ASAP if you see an error in your posted scores.

Extra Credit Policy. If you think there is a mistake on the homework or lecture notes that makes it hard to understand, then email Wendy explaining why you think it is a mistake, and she will give you one extra credit point per corrected mistake if you send the email before the fixed document is posted. A mistake is defined as any quantitative typo, incorrect statement or ambigous/misleading phrasing. Spelling or grammar mistakes don't count unless they are so horrific that they prevent understanding. After fixing the document online, I will email you back thanks and confirmation of extra credit.


Course Policy

(Deadlines, Cooperation vs. Plagiarism, Class Attendance, Disability)

Deadlines. All assignments (reading anlaysis, labs, and projects) must be turned in on time except by instructor permission.

Health, family, and other emergencies. If you have a health or family emergency that prevents you from turning in an assignment on time or attending an exam, contact the instructor for permission.

Helping vs Cheating: You are encouraged to discuss homework and lectures with your fellow students, but you may not copy or take credit for another personís work and you must write your homework independently. When you help each other, follow these guidelines:

  • you can point out the relevant parts of the lecture notes or text.
  • you can point out an area that you think the other person may have made a mistake, and discuss why.
  • you can discuss the pluses and minuses of different approaches
  • you cannot give an answer.
  • Use the type of help given by your instructors in office hours as a guideline.

Forllow these policies when you use the GoPost board.

Plagiarism. Place in quotes any material that you copy directly, and reference the source of material when you rewrite ideas in your own words. 

Feedback and suggestions about the class will be highly appreciated.  Please feel free to email me or talk to me in person.  

Access and Accommodations:  Your experience in this class is important to us, and it is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law. If you experience barriers based on a disability or temporary health condition, please seek a meeting with DRS to discuss and address them. If you have already established accommodations with DRS, please communicate your approved accommodations to your instructor at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course.

Disability Resources for Students (DRS) offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions.  Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS.  If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (this can include but not limited to; mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 or or

There may be times this quarter that I must travel. During these times, I will have more limited access to my email, and you should expect a one to two day delay in email response, so you should request DRS accomodations prior to these departures if they must be processed in a timely manner.



 Last Updated:
November 4, 2014