Reverse-engineering Drosophila action selection and movement control
A shared goal of neuroscience and robotics is to understand how systems can be built to move effectively through the world. However, state-of-the-art algorithms for selecting and executing limbed behaviors in robots are still quite primitive compared with those used by animals. To inform robotic control approaches, we are investigating how the fly, Drosophila melanogaster, controls complex limb movements.
I will discuss how we are combining 2-photon imaging of the ventral nerve cord in behaving Drosophila with physics-based simulations and neural network modeling to uncover how flies generate flexible behaviors.
About the speaker
Pavan Ramdya, Firmenich Next Generation Chair of Neuroengineering, is the Director of the Neuroengineering Laboratory at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. Dr. Ramdya received his PhD in Neurobiology from Harvard University and then performed postdoctoral work in robotics and neurogenetics at EPFL and UNIL, then bioengineering at Caltech.
His laboratory aims to draw inspiration from animals in order to design more intelligent robotic controllers. To accomplish this, they use computational, engineering, genetic, and microscopy approaches to investigate how neural population dynamics, biomechanics, and gene expression sculpt complex limb-dependent behaviors in Drosophila melanogaster. In recognition of his work, he has been awarded an HFSP Career Development Award, a Swiss National Science Foundation Eccellenza Grant, the UNIL Young Investigator Award in Basic Science, and is a member of the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence.
Pi Stories: A series of seminars aimed at providing the opportunity to the PhD students to learn the success stories of some of the most talented researchers in the world. Each speaker will present a research project he/she led as a principal investigator. The presentation will cover the scientific scope of the project and the most important results the project achieved. The speakers will also share their own experience of turning a research idea into a successful project winning a competitive grant.