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Header of the course Finite Element Analysis Applied to Life Sciences - 5th Edition


Organising committee



Date and Site


Course length and ECTS



Number of places








Registration Form




Course Poster


Finite Element Analysis Applied to Life Sciences
Finite Element Analysis (FEA) is a great tool for biologists, palaeontologists, doctors, veterinarians, and other biosciences 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 3D Model Generation in Life Sciences. That is how to define the material properties of biological structures, the use of a consistent Mesh Generation Methods, the proper definition of biomechanical boundary conditions and finally, how understand and analyse the results obtained in a computational simulation.

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. The last day attendees will have opportunity for trying to analyse by themselves their own data or other examples with the help of both instructors.


Dr. Josep Fortuny instructor at Transmitting Science
Dr. Josep Fortuny

(Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP) and Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain).
Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué instructor at Transmitting Science
Dr. Jordi Marcé-Nogué
(Universität Hamburg, Germany).

Organising committee:

Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno course coordinator at Transmitting Science
Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno

(Transmitting Science, Spain).
Juan Vicente Bertó-Mengual coordinador del curso en Transmitting Science
Juan Vicente Bertó-Mengual (Transmitting Science, Spain).
Dra. Judit Marigó coordinadora del curso en Transmitting Science
Dr. Judit Marigó

(Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle, France; and Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP), Spain).


Graduate or postgraduate degree in any Sciences discipline, basic knowledge of statistics and personal computers. Familiarity with 3D model generation, as the starting point of the course will be with the model already constructed. If you do not know how to create and generate a 3D model to take the previous course 3D Model Generation in Life Sciences is recommended.

Participants will be required to bring their own personal laptop with the following minimum requirements: Windows, CoreI5 or equivalent, 4 GB RAM, 1 GB memory dedicated to the graphic card, 20 GB of hard disk space available. If you wish to attend but do not have access to a laptop which meets these specifications, please contact us at courses@transmittingscience.org.



Date and Site:

Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP): Premises of Sabadell - Museum

Monday 10th to Friday 14th October 2016.

Premises of Sabadell of the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP), C/ de l’Escola Industrial, 23, 08201 Sabadell, Barcelona (Spain). GPS Coordinates: Latitude 41.547346 (41° 32’ 50.4459’’N), Longitude 2.106325 (2° 6’ 22.7712’’E). How to arrive.


Monday 10th October 2016.

- 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 11th October 2016.

- Theoretical approach to Meshing:

  • Types of mesh.
  • Mesh generation.
  • How to evaluate a mesh (quality and reliability).
  • Recommendations for a good practice.

- Defining 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 12th October 2016.

- 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 13th October 2016.

- 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.


  • Alligator jaw: Biological Implications. Interpretation of the results.



Friday 14th October 2016.

- Working with your own data.


- Rayfield EJ (2007) Finite Element Analysis and Understanding the Biomechanics and Evolution of Living and Fossil Organisms. Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences, 35 (1): 541-576.

- Kupczik K (2008) Virtual biomechanics basic concepts and technical aspects of finite element analysis in vertebrate morphology. Journal of Anthropological Sciences, 86: 193-198.

- Moazen M, Curtis N, O’Higgins P, Jones MEH, Evans SE, Fagan MJ (2009) Assessment of the role of sutures in a lizard skull a computer modelling study. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 276: 39-46.

- Dumont ER, Grosse IR, Slater GJ (2009) Requirements for comparing the performance of finite element models of biological structures. Journal of theoretical biology, 256 (1): 96-103.

- Fletcher TM, Janis CM, Rayfield EJ (2010) Finite Element Analysis of Ungulate Jaws: Can mode of digestive physiology be determined? Palaeontologica Electronia, 13 (3).

- Marcé-Nogué J, Fortuny J, Gil L, Galobart A (2011) Using Reverse Engineering to Reconstruct Tetrapod Skulls and Analyse its Feeding Behaviour, in Topping BHV, Tsompanakis Y, eds. Proceedings of the Thirteenth International Conference on Civil, Structural and Environmental Engineering Computing. Civil-Comp Press, Stirlingshire, United Kingdom, Paper 237 (pp. 1-12).

- Bright JA, Rayfield EJ (2011) The response of cranial biomechanical finite element models to variations in mesh density. The Anatomical Record, 294: 610-620.

- Fortuny J, Marcé-Nogué J, De Esteban S, Gil LL, Galobart A (2011) Temnospondyli bite club: Ecomorphological patterns of the most diverse group of early tetrapods. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 24 (9): 2040-2054.

- Fortuny J, Marcé-Nogué J, Gil LL, Galobart A (2012) Skull Mechanics and the Evolutionary Patterns of the Otic Notch Closure in Capitosaurs (Amphibia: Temnospondyli). The Anatomical Record, 295 (7): 1134-1146.

- Lee HH (2012) Finite Element Simulations with ANSYS Workbench 14, SDC Publications.

- Lawrence KL (2012) ANSYS Workbench Tutorial Release 14, SDC Publications.

- Marcé-Nogué J, DeMiguel D, Fortuny J, De Esteban-Trivigno S, GIl L (2013) Quasi-homothetic transformation for comparing the mechanical performance of planar models in biological research. Palaeontologia Electronica, 16: 15p. http://palaeo-electronica.org/content/2013/468-quasihomothetic-transformation.


- Reddy JN, An Introduction to Continuum Mechanics, Texas A & M University.

- Morris A, A Practical Guide to Reliable Finite Element Modelling, John Wiley & Sons.

Course length and ECTS:

40 hours on-site. This course is equivalent to 4 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System). Participants who have completed the course will receive a certificate at the end of it.


Monday 10th to Friday 14th October 2016:

9:30 to 13:30 Lessons.
13:30 to 15:00 Lunch.
15:00 to 19:00 Lessons.

  • There will be two coffee breaks each day, halfway through each lesson session.

The schedule is approximate; it is possible that the content of one day may run into the next and a working day may be longer than advertised.


You will find below some testimonials from former participants to previous editions of this course:

Safiyyah Iqbal former participant at Transmitting Science“The course was intense but very well organised and allowed for an enjoyable experience that was worth every moment. The venue provided a wonderful atmosphere. It truly was an amazing experience meeting Dr. Soledad De Esteban-Trivigno, Dr. Jordi Marcé-Norgué and Dr. Josep Fortuny, as well as interacting and making new friends with the other students. It was a great week filled with many memories that I can honestly say that I would definitely do another course in future.”
Safiyyah Iqbal, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa (4th Edition).

Janina Dynoswky former participant at Transmitting Science“The FEA courses give an elementary introduction to this complex and interdisciplinary research field, and offer the possibility to learn to use sophisticated software under instruction (in a very pleasant atmosphere), which is always much easier than doing it by oneself. The courses are also a good opportunity to meet students working on related topics, who often face similar problems – a perfect basis to find solutions together and get into contact with (future) colleagues from around the world. Furthermore, the attendance of the FEA courses was really helpful for me because I met experienced instructors and had the chance to discuss my projects and optimize my work flow.”
Janina Dynowski, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart, Germany (1st Edition).

Marta Pina former participant at Transmitting Science“A really useful course! Everything explained by the instructors is also practiced during the classes so you can apply it afterwards for your own data. Moreover, the instructors are always willing to answer any question you have about the lessons and about how to build and process your models. The organisation of the course is also an additional point because you don’t need to be worried about anything (technically and personally).”
Marta Pina, Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP), Spain (1st Edition).

More Testimonials.

Number of places:

Places are limited to 16 participants and will be occupied by strict registration order.


Reduced registration fee until April 30, 2016: 645 €. Full registration fee after April 30, 2016: 860 €. This includes course material, coffee breaks and lunches.

Former participants will have a 5 % discount** on the current course fee.

We offer the possibility of paying in two instalments (contact us at courses@transmittingscience.org).

Please complete and submit your Registration Form (see below); we will confirm your acceptance by e-mail. If you do not receive any confirmation by e-mail after registration, please contact us at courses@transmittingscience.org.

This course will be held if at least 50 % of the places are filled.

Cancellation policy:

If you wish to cancel your participation in this course, cancellations up to 20 days before the course start date will incur a 30 % cancellation fee. For later cancellations, or non-attendance, 75 % of the fee will be charged.

If Transmitting Science must cancel this course due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the control of Transmitting Science, you will either be entitled to a full refund of the course fee, or your fee can be credited toward a future course / workshop. Transmitting Science is not responsible for travel fees, or any expenses incurred by you as a result of such cancellation. Every effort will be made to avoid the cancellation of any planned course / workshop.


The course will take place in the city of Sabadell, Barcelona (Spain).

You may stay in Barcelona city or Sabadell. You will find information about Hotels and Hostel in Sabadell here. It takes about 45 minutes by public transport to arrive to Sabadell from the centre of Barcelona city. The place of the course is about 15 minutes walking from the train stop.

How to arrive to Sabadell from Barcelona city.


Unfortunately there are no internal grants available for this course. However some discounts are offered to people belonging to some of the Associations, Institutions or Universities listed here. If you want to apply to this discount please state the name of your Association, Institution or University in the “Comments” field of the Registration Form (proof will be asked later).

Spanish unemployed scientists, as well as Spanish PhD students without any grant to develop their PhD, could benefit from a 40 % discount** on the course fee. If you want to ask for this discount, please contact us at courses@transmittingscience.org. That would apply for a maximum of 2 places and they will be covered by strict inscription order.


For further information contact: courses@transmittingscience.org.


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Registration Form

  • Do you need an invitation letter for processing a visa?
    (list of countries in which visa is required to visit Spain).
  • Are you going to validate the course in any research PhD School or doctorate?
  • At which University / Postgraduate School / PhD School?


** Discounts are not cumulative.