Course information

Course title
Finite Element Analysis Applied to Life Sciences
University / Organization
Transmitting Science
Academic level
Both Msc and PhD
Transmitting Science
Course director
Course lecturer(s)
Dr. Josep Fortuny (Institut Català de Paleontologia M. C. / Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, Spain / France) Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué (Universität Hamburg, Germany) Dr. Michael Berthaume (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology ,Germany)
Course aim
Course overview Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a great tool for biologists, palaeontologists, doctors, veterinarians, and other life sciences specialities in which researchers face questions about biomechanics of living and extinct organisms. Elements like bone, arthropod exoskeleton, mollusc shells, or the stems and leaves of plants can be analysed using this technique. FEA is a non-invasive modelling technique, based on the principle of dividing a system into a finite number of discrete elements where the equations are applied. Although static and dynamic analysis can be solved using FEA, in this course only static analysis will be covered. In this course, there will be an introduction to the Finite Element in order to model biological structures and understand how they worked. It will cover all the steps involved in FEA (for static analysis) except the creation or reconstruction of the model, which will be covered in the previous course Introduction to 3D Imaging Technologies: Photogrammetry, Laser, CT-scan and (µ)CT-scan for Life Sciences. After the theoretical introduction, we will build and analyse 2D and 3D finite element models of skeletal elements and deepen on the methods and software’s required to perform FEA. Key questions as mesh size, boundary conditions, applied forces, scaling and numerical singularities will be thoroughly addressed.
Course contents / programme
Monday. Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué. An introduction to the use of Finite Element Analysis (FEA): Mathematical model, features and practical procedure. Basic continuum mechanics: Stress, displacements, strain, constitutive equations. Failure criteria in elastic materials. Tuesday. Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué. Theoretical approach to Meshing: Types of mesh. Mesh generation. How to evaluate a mesh (quality and reliability). Recommendations for a good practice. Material Properties: Biomechanical properties of the bones to be used in FEA. Considerations for non-lineal materials to understand the modelling of soft tissues. Wednesday. Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué. 2D Plane models reconstruction: Steps for 2D models generation: Image, digitized images (XY coordinates), generation of point cloud and obtaining the 2D model. Finite Element Analysis of simplified two-dimensional plane models of biological structures: Definition and characteristics of plane models. Comparative Analysis: Correcting by size differences: Quasi-homotethic transformation. Quantitaive analysis of FEA data. Examples of combining FEA data with other techniques (Geometric Morphometrics). Thursday. Dr. Josep Fortuny and Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué. 3D models: Keys in pre-process and post process: Getting the model ready for analysis. 3D Finite Element Mesh Techniques. Assignment of boundary conditions, defining material properties. Boundary conditions in 3D models (muscles, muscular insertions and analogues). Interpreting results. CASE STUDY: Alligator jaw: Biological Implications. Interpretation of the results. Friday. Dr. Josep Fortuny and Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué. Working with real examples. Creation of a complete FEA model. Saturday. Dr. Michael Berthaume. Model analysis: Interpreting forces, displacements, stresses, strains, and energies. Comparing stress and strain magnitudes and distributions. Geometric morphometrics (GM) and finite element analysis: Using GM to pick sample. Relating shape to performance. Using GM to quantify results.
Required Knowledge and preparation
Teaching methods
Course type
Consecutive days
Online course
Duration (net days)
September 17th-22nd, 2018
Course fee
Direct e-mail to register
Paper submission required?
Logo of institution
front approval