Prof. Pavan Ramdya

CIS – “Get to know your neighbors” Seminar Series

Reverse-engineering Drosophila movement control toward applications in robotics

Prof. Pavan Ramdya, head of the Neuroengineering Laboratory

Monday, Oct 4, 2021 3:15 – 4:15pm (CEST)

A shared goal of neuroscience and robotics is to understand how systems can be built to move effectively through the world. However, state-of-the-art algorithms for selecting and executing limbed behaviors in robots are still quite primitive compared with those used by animals. To inspire better artificial control approaches and to understand the biology of limb movement control, we are investigating the fly, Drosophila melanogaster. I will discuss how we are combining 3D pose estimation, 2-photon imaging of motor circuits in behaving flies with physics-based simulations and neural network modeling to uncover algorithms giving rise to adaptive and flexible animal behaviors.

Pavan Ramdya, Firmenich Next Generation Chair of Neuroengineering, is the Director of the Neuroengineering Laboratory at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. Dr. Ramdya received his PhD in Neurobiology from Harvard University and then performed postdoctoral work in robotics and neurogenetics at EPFL and UNIL, then bioengineering at Caltech. His laboratory aims to draw inspiration from insects in order to design more intelligent robotic controllers. To accomplish this, they use computational, engineering, genetic, and microscopy approaches to investigate how neural population dynamics, biomechanics, and gene expression sculpt complex limb-dependent behaviors in Drosophila melanogaster. In recognition of his work, he has been awarded an HFSP Career Development Award, a Swiss National Science Foundation Eccellenza Grant, the UNIL Young Investigator Award in Basic Science, and is a member of the FENS-Kavli Network of Excellence.

List of 5 selected publications

LiftPose3D, a deep learning-based approach for transforming 2D to 3D pose in laboratory animals.
Gosztolai A*, Günel S*, Abrate MP, Morales D, Lobato Ríos V, Rhodin H, Fua P,  Ramdya P.
Nature Methods, 18(8):975-981.

Imaging neural activity in the ventral nerve cord of behaving adult Drosophila.
Chen CL, Hermans L, Viswanathan MC, Fortun D, Aymanns F, Unser M, Cammarato A, Dickinson MH, Ramdya P.
Nature Communications, 2018 Oct 22;9(1):4390.

Climbing favours the tripod gait over alternative faster insect gaits.
Ramdya P, Thandiackal R, Cherney R, Asselborn T, Benton R, Ijspeert AJ, Floreano D.
Nature Communications, 2017 Feb 17;8:14494.

Mechanosensory interactions drive collective behaviour in Drosophila.
Ramdya P, Lichocki P, Cruchet S, Frisch L, Tse W, Floreano D, Benton R.
Nature, 2015 Mar 12;519(7542):233-6.

Emergence of binocular functional properties in a monocular neural circuit.
Ramdya P, Engert F.
Nature Neuroscience, 2008 Sep;11(9):1083-90.