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Earnest C. Watson Lecture Series

Wednesday, February 14, 2018
8:00pm to 9:00pm
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Beckman Auditorium
"Using the Brain of a Modern Fly to Reconstruct the Behaviors of an Ancient World"
Michael Dickinson, Esther M. and Abe M. Zarem Professor of Bioengineering and Aeronautic, Biology & Biological Engineering, Caltech,

Over 400 million years ago, a group of tiny six-legged creatures evolved the ability to fly—an event that fundamentally transformed life on our planet. Equipped with the ability to fly, insects underwent one of the most extraordinary radiations in the history of life and have dominated every terrestrial ecosystem since. Using a diverse assortment of modern techniques from diverse fields such as neuroscience, biomechanics, and engineering, Dr. Dickinson is attempting to reconstruct the behavior and ecology of the ancestral insects through his investigations of the common fruit fly. Through his work, the brain of a common fly provides a fascinating window into the past, providing new insight into the evolution of our planet's most diverse group of organisms.