Research

My research group studies how physics informs the study of biomechanics and sensory biology. Projects include:

  • Dynamic optical signals during avian courtship displays: Using a combination of multispectral imaging, reflectance spectroscopy and quantitative visual modeling, we are studying how peacocks and related species of pheasants use highly specific illumination and display geometries to generate optimal optical signals. This project is a collaboration with Roslyn Dakin (Carleton University).
  • Pigmentation pattern formation: Computational models can now reproduce many biologically relevant patterns, including many aspects of animal pigmentation patterns. We are studying: 1) how to tackle the inverse problem — efficient methods for parameterizing the multiple nonlinear differential equations required to model a new pattern; 2) new methods for quantifying pigmentation patterns in a lower-dimensional pattern space to allow guided searches for solving this problem; and 3) interaction between morphology and pigmentation pattern formation.
  • Kinematics of raptor take-off and maneuvering flight: Working with local falconers and the Cape May Raptor Banding Project, we use 3D video to study how a wide variety of diurnal raptors (birds like hawks, falcons and eagles) take off and maneuver in flight.
  • Search strategies during foraging: Using field video and computational models, we are studying the search strategies used by birds during foraging on the ground.
  • Pose estimation of live animals in the field