We conduct a range of research projects in the Chiel Lab. Here are very brief descriptions of a few of our recent research projects: 

Basic science

Experimental studies

  • Ecological
    • Studying aquarium ecology to enhance Aplysia’s long-term well being and maintenance in the laboratory 
  • Behavioral
    • Characterizing multifunctional feeding behavior in Aplysia
    • Understanding how the presence of other animals influences behavior (e.g., social learning)
    • How sensory feedback can affect behavioral variation
    • Effects of scale on feeding movements and forces
  • Biomechanical
    • Analysis of the biomechanics of individual Aplysia muscles
  • Neural
    • Short term changes in neural activity in response to mechanical loading
    • Determining how an animal senses changing conditions (sensory feedback) and how this affects behavior
    • Effects of learning on neural circuitry for feeding

Modeling studies

  • Neuromechanical models of feeding behavior
  • Mathematical analysis of robustness and flexibility in neuromechanical models

Translational applications

  • Novel techniques for monitoring and modifying the nervous system
    • Infrared stimulation and inhibition of small-diameter, unmyelinated axons
    • Using carbon fiber electrode arrays to simultaneously monitor and manipulate groups of neurons

Engineering applications

  • Development of biologically inspired soft robots
  • Development of software tools for data analysis