wing The Dickerson lab is broadly interested in how biomechanics structures sensory input to control behavior. An animal's morphology, along with its physical interaction with the environment, necessarily determine the information available to control behavior. Indeed, many animals rely on specialized mechanosensors to mediate the appropriate responses to physical stimuli.

To reveal the general principles of sensory encoding and sensorimotor processing, we study the flight control circuitry of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster. By studying these questions in Drosophila, we can leverage the powerful genetic toolkit available for the mapping, imaging, and manipulation of neural circuits. Furthermore, flies exhibit exquisite aerial maneuvers, the control of which require rapid mechanosensory feedback.

The lab directs its attention on both the wings and structures that are unique to flies, known as the halteres, both of which provide timing information that structures the wing stroke. Our questions span levels of biological organization, combining the micromechanics of sensory structures, neuronal signaling, muscle physiology, and behavior. With this integrative approach, we hope to provide insight into how animals’ sensory structures and neural circuits have evolved with their locomotor body dynamics to finely control behavior.

questions

techniques

opportunities

Questions - Current topics of interest include: Techniques - Addressing these problems necessitates an interdisciplinary approach. As a result, we employ a range of tools to study Drosophila flight physiology, including:

arena

A hallmark of our approach is that we perform our experiments in intact, behaving animals.


Opportunities - Highly motivated students and postdocs that are interested in any aspect our work and a highly collaborative environment are more than welcome in the lab. Just get in contact with Brad (bdicker [at] caltech [dot] edu) and we can figure out which option is the best fit for you. We are also currently looking for postdoctoral researchers, funded either on lab grants or through independent grants/fellowships. If you are a recent Ph.D. or finishing grad student thinking about what comes next, contact Brad so that we can discuss potential projects and funding. The lab also has room for and invites inquiries from undergraduate researchers in various capacities.

Contact me: bdicker [at] caltech [dot] edu