Opportunities

Opportunities to join the Agile Systems Lab

(Prof. Sponberg's group in physics and biological sciences @ GT)

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Specific positions will be posted below as they arise.

However, we always welcome inquires from undergrads, graduate students, and postdocs with backgrounds in neuroscience, physics, physiology, biomechanics, or engineering interested in studying agile systems!

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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
  • Neuroethology
  • Comparative biomechanics -- especially motor control
  • Active soft matter
  • Muscle physiology
  • Electrophysiology -- especially in intact, behaving animals
  • Computational neuroscience or neurophysics
  • Experimental fluid mechanics
  • Classical dynamic systems
  • Control theory and system identification of biological/bio-inspired systems
  • Robophysics and experimental 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 regular openings for graduate students and postdocs. Please refer to the postings at the top of this page, but things may be a little out of date so feel free to contact Simon. Some of the specific areas of interest we are looking for are the following:

  1. The originals of precision in the timing codes for motor control especially during fast, agile behaviors.

  2. Coordination and organization of the motor program across many muscles during locomotion, with an particularly emphasis on information theory, controls, and system identification.

  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  are interested in teaming with the lab to target an such an opportunity, please contact me. 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 on a case-by-case basis. 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: Neuroscience -- the computations and mechanisms underlying how animals acquire, process and act upon information, Biomechanics -- the analysis of animals’ mechanics and the physical structures than enable movement, and Muscle Biophysics -- 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
  • Multielectrode recording rigs for small brain and descending neuron recordings
  • Sharp electrode recording rigs for single neuron recordings
  • Virtual realty behavior arenas including electrophysiology
  • Low-speed wind tunnel for small animal flight in laminar and unsteady flows
  • Micro-implantation and instrumentation facilities
  • Electrophysiology rigs for tethered 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)