Virginia Tech

The courses that Dr. Socha currently teaches at Virginia Tech include the following:

ESM 4105, 4106: Engineering Analysis of Physiologic Systems I and II

In a broad sense, physiology is the study of how organisms work.  In practice, it is an extremely vast field; this course focuses on quantitative analyses and the common solutions that organisms have evolved to deal with life’s processes. The over-arching question is, why are organisms “built” they way they are? These two courses are taught in sequence in the Fall and Spring, and include the following material: the cellular environment, the nervous system and signaling, muscle physiology, mass and heat transport, digestion, reproduction, water/salt balance, sensory processes, energetics, and circulation.

ESM 4246/5246: Mechanics of Animal Locomotion (in Fluids)

The purpose of this course is to understand how animals move through air and water, and across the interface between the two. This course focuses on the animals: to understand how patterns of movement are generated requires an understanding of force production at all levels, from muscle physiology to vortex generation. This is not a fluid mechanics, dynamics, or solids course, per se, but knowledge of these areas is fundamental for a holistic understanding of how animals move. Dr. Socha designed and implemented this new course in conjunction with Dr. Daniel Dudek, who designed the sister course ESM 4256/5256, which focusing on locomotion on land.

ESM 2104: Statics

Statics is the study of forces in static equilibrium (i.e., when the net force and net torque sum to zero on a system). This is sometimes considered the first rigorous mechanics course for many engineers, depending on the major.

ESM 5405, 5406: Biomedical Engineering Internship

The purpose of this summer clinical internship is to provide students with a practical understanding of modern health care delivery and its associated problems.  These students represent the engineers who will design the next-generation of medical technology, and it is important for them to have an appreciation for the immediate and long-term needs for improved technology in health care.  The practical problems associated with delivery of health care, and the ways that engineers relate to them, can only be fully appreciated and understood by real-world exposure and training in the actual environment. Students spend the majority of the summer term making observations on-site at Montgomery Regional Hospital.



University of Chicago (2004-2008)

Courses taught at the University of Chicago (while a postdoc at Argonne National Laboratory) include the following:

Bio 112: Animal Locomotion

Dr. Socha designed and a new course entitled “Animal Locomotion” for the University of Chicago.  This course explores this diversity of movement from a mechanical design perspective, and answers how the demands of form and function guide the many forms of biological locomotion.  I taught this course in 2004, 2007, and 2008. 

Other courses

Dr. Socha co-taught “From Neurons to Behavior” with Prof. Melina Hale in 2007 & 2008.


High School Science Teaching (1994-1996)

Science Department Head, Centerville High School

For two years I served as the (only) high school science teacher in the town of Centerville, Louisiana, located on the Bayou Teche a few miles from the Gulf Coast and south of Baton Rouge.  This school is one of the few remaining K-12 public schools in the country.  With only around 100 students in the high school, each subject area is taught by a single teacher.  Along with teaching physical science, biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science, I founded the cross-country team and served as the assistant track coach.  My girls cross-country team won the state title two years after I left--I wish I could have seen it in person.  If you’re one of my former students and are reading this, congratulations on your use of Google, and now email me.

(Left: Keelan emptying a crawfish trap.)


J. Socha with Brandon, pointing toward something important.