Skip to main content


Primary Blast Trauma and the Historical Case Report of the Crew of the HL Hunley

Speaker: Rachel Lance, Ph.D. Host: Ruth Lilly Medical Library

This talk examines the deaths of the crew members of the Civil War submarine HL Hunley as a case study of injury patterns of blast trauma. The lungs are the most easily injured organs in a blast and often drive the overall risk level of the exposure, but Dr. Lance will also delve into the developing topic of blast neurotrauma and traumatic brain injuries (TBI) that so frequently affects today’s veterans. The pulmonary and neurological risk of blast trauma to the crew of the Hunley formed a portion of Lance’s doctoral research on underwater blast trauma, and her experiments on the topic are described in the trade non-fiction book: In the Waves: My Quest to Solve the Mystery of a Civil War Submarine. Before returning to graduate school to earn her PhD, Dr. Lance spent several years as an engineer for the United States Navy building specialized underwater equipment for Navy divers, SEALs, and Marine Force Recon personnel.

This event is part of the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute Seminar Series and is co-sponsored by the John Shaw Billings History of Medicine Society, IUPUI Medical Humanities & Health Studies Program, IUSM History of Medicine Student Interest Group, and the Ruth Lilly Medical Library.

An image of Rachel Lance, Ph.D