I am from India where I received an Integrated BS-MS with a major in
Biology and a minor in Physics from Indian Institute of Science
Education and Research, Trivandrum. I am a third year Ph.D. student
in the Dept. of Biology at Tufts University. Currently I am working
in Dr. Barry Trimmer's lab and my research interests include
behavior, neuroscience and design of biomimetic devices.
Fast, rapid movements in living systems are driven by muscles
storing and releasing energy rapidly by a common feature of
pre-loading an external structure slowly and releasing the energy
quickly by a mechanical trigger. This lever-based velocity
amplification system is exploited in different ways in different
arthropods. But not all animals have clearly defined elastic
structures, catches or stiff levers to aid in these rapid movements.
My research is about examining how soft, non-hydrostatic animals
make rapid movements. Soft-bodied caterpillars are known to produce
fast defensive strikes at noxious stimuli applied to their abdomen.
They strike with their mandibles towards the location of the
stimuli. We are characterizing the strike behavior in caterpillars
quantitatively and investigating the mechanisms underlying it. We
examine the potential role of buckling in controlling or powering
such movements and test the hypothesis that structural instabilities
are used to control precision in targeting, while sustained muscular
contractions allow energy to be stored for rapid movements.
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