Booz Allen Colloquium: "Fast, Small, yet Still in Control: Flying Insects Balance Speed & Accuracy"

Friday, April 4, 2014
3:00 p.m.
Stanley Zupnik Lecture Hall, Rm. 1110, Jeong Kim Engineering Building
Carrie Hilmer
301 405 4471

Booz Allen Hamilton Distinguished Colloquium in Electrical and Computer Engineering

"Fast, Small--yet Still in Control: How Flying Insects Balance Speed and Accuracy"

Dr. Sanjay Sane

National Center for Biological Sciences, India


The evolution of flight and the miniaturization of the insect body size drove the spectacular success of insects. However, for flying insects a smaller body size also means a corresponding increase in the frequency of their wing motion.Yet, several insects can flap their wings at frequencies exceeding hundreds of cycles per second while displaying extraordinary aerobatic control of their aerial maneuvers. Such fine control of flight requires enhanced sampling rates by the sensory system, rapid sensorimotor integration by the central nervous system and fast actuation
by the flight muscles. Moreover, these movements must occur with great precision because even small deviations from the intended motion can lead to large errors from the desired flight path. High-frequency flapping thus pushes the insect flight system to the very limits of its neural and biomechanical capability. How did insects cope with the complex demands for speed and precision for flight? I will address this question in my presentation focusing on both the nervous system and
the musculosketal mechanics of the thorax.


Dr. Sanjay Sane received a Bachelor’s degree in physics, chemistry and mathematics from St. Stephen’s College in University of Delhi, and a Master’s in Physics from the University of Poona, specializing in Nonlinear Dynamics and Astronomy & Astrophysics in the area of General Relativity. During this time, he became very interested in the aerodynamics of insect flight. After completing his Master’s degree, he was briefly at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai, and the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore where he switched to studying biology of insect flight muscles. He completed his PhD in Michael Dickinson’s laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley on the topic of “Aerodynamics of flapping flight”. He then took up a post-doctoral fellowship under Tom Daniel at the University of Washington, Seattle. There Sane studied questions relating to the sensory neurobiology of insect flight. He returned to India as a faculty member at the National Centre for Biological Sciences in Bangalore in late 2007, leading a laboratory devoted to Mechanics and Neurobiology of Flight.


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