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Department of Zoology

 

I’m a final-year PhD student with an interest in predatory insects. I hope that, by studying how their brain and bodies work, we can build more efficient autonomous systems, like self-driving cars and drones.

Biography

After graduating with a First-class BSc in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science at the University of Sussex, UK, I stayed at Sussex for a MRes in Neuroscience. I completed a dissertation on the biomechanics and behaviour of praying mantids, graduating with a Distinction in 2016. I then moved to the University of Cambridge to start a PhD on the behaviour and neuroscience of fast invertebrate predators in the Department of Zoology, with a year abroad at the University of Minnesota, USA.

Research

Predatory animals need not only to outrun their prey, but also to outsmart them. For this reason, predators show some of the most fascinating and flexible behaviours in the animal kingdom. Invertebrate predators, like insects, cannot rely on a big brain for smartness and flexibility, so how do they successfully capture prey?

 

I got interested in this question early in my undergraduate degree and discovered through literature and my own research that invertebrate predators often use clever tricks to capture prey. Albeit small, the nervous system of insect predators is capable of implementing robust behaviours for prey capture, relying on simple rules that are usually very effective. At the same time, insects can also rely on physical forces acting on their small bodies, like gravity and elasticity, to achieve the desired behaviour with formidable speed and little energy. I am interested in the interlink between behaviour, neuroscience, and biomechanics, particularly in insect predators that need to quickly and efficiently capture other animals.

Publications