The Daniel Lab
Contact Info


Implantable Microelectronics and Flight Control in Manduca sexta
(Armin Hinterwirth, Ty Hedrick, Office of Naval Research MURI & Packard Interscience Program)

Neurons and neuronal networks decide, remember, modulate, and control an animal¹s every sensation, thought, movement, and act. The intimate details of this network, including the dynamical properties of individual and populations of neurons, give a nervous system the power to control a wide array of behavioral functions. We want to know more about neuronal dynamics and networks; about synaptic interactions between neurons; about how neuronal signaling and behavior and control and environmental stimuli are inextricably linked. Consequently, we have begun in a multi-university, multi-disciplinary, multi-sponsor research program to integrate silicon electronics with neurobiology. Recent research by Jordanna Sprayberry has focussed on visual image processing and the patterns of descending motor signals that respond to moving images. Additional work has focussed on stimulating motor patterns in ventral ganglia with the goal of path control of live hawmoths.
Inverse Approaches to Flight Control in Manduca sexta
(Office of Naval Research MURI & Packard Interscience Program, National Science Foundation to Ty Hedrick)

As part of his postdoctoral research here, Ty Hedrick has launched a project that involves an inverse problem: what motions of wings give rise to a pre-defined trajectory of a flying animal? While the forward problem has been a focus of research on animal flight for some time, the inverse problem provides a new glimpse into the range of kinematic parameters that can yield identical trajectories. Ty's research currently uses genetic algorithms to "evolve" wing kinematic parameters (e.g. angular amplitudes) that give rise to wingstroke forces which propel a moth through a specified trajectory. There are lots of solutions that work! See one example movie by Ty Hedrick.

Flexible Filaments and the Dynamics of Muscle Contraction
(Bertrand Tanner, Gradute Student, MacArthur Foundation & Komen Professorship, National Institutes of Health)

For some time, we have been concerned with the dynamics of muscle contraction -- at the level of whole muscle and at the level of the molecular motors that drive contraction. In one set of studies we focus on how motor molecules may interact through a compliant network of actin filaments. In a current study, we are focusing on the total mechanical power output of the dominant flight muscle of Manduca sexta, a muscle whose behavior is remarkably similar to cardiac muscle (Tu and Daniel). Now, under the leadership of Bert Tanner, a Bioengineering gradaute student, we are focussing on multiple filament interactions along with spatially explicit models of Calcium regulation of the thin filament. This work has been part of a long term collaboration with the laboratory of Mike Regnier.(click to get to his home page)

Flapping Flight with Flexing Wings
(Andrew Mountcastle, Stacey Combes, Sanjay Sane: NSF)

In a collaborative research project, we explore the aero-elastic dynamics of flexing wings. Our efforts have focused largely on the mechanical design of insect wing and how the passive bending may (or may not) interact with aerodynamic force generation.One set of studies (Daniel and Combes, Combes and Daniel) examine these issues with both theory and experiments. Recent work by Sanjay Sane shows how the airflow induced by flapping wings shows a signal that is likely due to the bending dynamics.  Now Andrew Mountcastle is studying how bending waves may propagate along the wing.

Bio-gyroscopes: an new spin on flight research in the Daniel lab.
(Sanjay Sane Postdoc; Alexandre Dieudonne, Neurobiology Graduate Student; Jessica Fox, Neurobiology Rotation Student; Cam Myhrvold, Visiting Highschool Student)

As part his postdoctoral research Sanjay Sane has proposed the notion that insects may encode gyroscopic forces by antennal vibration. This in turn has driven a number of related research projects including a blend of finite element analyses, neurobiological approaches and biomechanical approaches to see how antennae or other structures can encode gyroscopic forces. We are particularly interested in the stress and strain distributions in compliant gryoscopes. The lab has the first recordings of sensory encoding in antennae and halteres (Haltere from the crane fly Holorusia :image by Cam Myhrvold)

Finite Element Modelling of Shells
(MacArthur Foundation & Komen Professorship)

What are the consequences of shell shape to the stress distribution within shells? What are the functional consequences of coiling? In a collaborative research project with Peter Ward, we are using finite element methods to examine a new twist to the mechanics of shell design. Click on the shell to see a gallery of shell stress distributions for some recent work asking about the origins of coiling and curvature in mollluscan shells.
Last updated on Thursday, 26-Oct-2006 06:14:29 PDT. Send questions or comments to