Opportunities

Opportunities to join the Sponberg Group

 

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We are now recruiting undergrads, graduate students, and postdocs with backgrounds in physics, physiology, biomechanics, neuroscience, or engineering!

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Contact Simon

 

Who should apply and what to expect

The science of movement is inherently interdisciplinary. No one field holds all the answers. We seek students from a variety of backgrounds from physics to biology to engineering. Emphasis will be placed on creating a strong interdisciplinary team where each individual has established research domains, but benefits from the multidisciplinary environment. Students with interests and skills in any of the following may find a good fit with the lab:

  • Physics of living systems
  • Comparative biomechanics -- especially motor control
  • Muscle mechanics and coordination
  • Electrophysiology -- especially in intact, behaving animals
  • Computational neuroscience or neurophysics
  • Classical dynamic systems
  • Control theory and system identification of biological/bio-inspired systems
  • Computational modeling
  • Mechanical engineering -- especially physical modeling (e.g. robotics)

How to apply

The first step is making contact. E-mail Simon. Please include a brief description of your background and research interests.

 

Specific opportunities & funding

The Sponberg Lab has several openings for graduate students and postdocs. These include, but are not limited to, the following three specific areas of interest:

  1. Sensorimotor control of locomotor tracking tasks using robotic stimuli and virtual sensory worlds.

  2. Coordination and organization of the motor program across many muscles during locomotion, with an particularly emphasis on (Shannon) entropy/information based approaches.

  3. The multiscale physics of muscle -- muscle function during perturbed, periodic motion and the properties of the contractile machinery that enables multifunctionality.

All students and postdocs are encouraged to write individual fellowships. If you you are interested in teaming with the lab to target an such an opportunity, please contact me. Funding exists for some grad students and postdocs. Other opportunities and sources of funding may also be available.

 

Affiliated academic programs

Professor Sponberg can formally advise graduate students in the following programs:

Advising is also possible through the other engineering and science schools at Georgia Tech. Undergraduates from any discipline are welcome if their interests align with the lab and they are eager to contribute.

 

Foundations

We have three conceptual foundations: Biomechanics -- the analysis of animals’ mechanics and the physical structures than enable movement. Neuroscience -- the computations and mechanisms underlying how animals acquire, process and act upon information, and Muscle Physiology -- the study of how muscles transform the electrical signals of the nervous system into force, strain, and work. These foundations are tied together by the theme of studying the Physics of Living Systems.

 

What animals do we work with?

Much of the lab’s work relies on invertebrates, particularly insects, because of their robust behaviors, tractable electrophysiological signals (e.g. discrete patterns of neural and muscular activation), general accessibility, and the fundamental idea that despite being quite tiny systems, they realize a wide diversity of forms and behaviors. While future work will likely take advantage of these systems, the lab is not organism specific. We apply the principle of using systems that are advantageous in their extreme behavior, experimental tractability, or comparative perspective (Krogh, 1929). As we move towards a maturing of the integrative science of movement at the whole organism level, we will turn to whatever system allows us to best understanding the physics and physiology of locomotion.

 

Our tools and techniques

  • High-speed imaging and real-time motion capture
  • Low-speed wind tunnel for small animal flight in laminar and unsteady flows
  • Micro-implantation and instrumentation facilities
  • Reconfigurable behavioral arenas
  • Electrophysiology rigs for tethered and reduced preparations
  • Dynamic material characterization of muscles
  • Rapid prototyping
  • Computational resources
  • Time-resolved, small angle x-ray diffraction through living muscle tissue
    (via trips to the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Labs)