Principal Investigator

Simon Sponberg

Simon moved to Georgia Tech in the fall of 2014. He studies how the versatile, agile locomotion of animals arises from their physiological components using the perspective of physics and comparative biology. He completed his graduate training at UC, Berkeley and postdoctoral research at the University of Washington. 

University Contact Info

Simon Sponberg
Dunn Family Professor
School of Physics
School of Biological Sciences
Adjunct in Biomedical Engineering
Bioengineering Graduate Program
Quantitative Biosciences Graduate Program
Georgia Institute of Technology
Howey Physics Building C205
837 State St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30313

The Sponberg Group @ Georgia Tech
Agile Systems Lab
837 State St. NW
Howey Physics Building W208/W209
Atlanta, GA 30313


Dr. Brett Aiello

Ph.D. from University of Chicago

Integrative Biology

Brett Aiello is a postdoctoral researcher in the Sponberg Lab. Brett received his Ph.D. in Integrative Biology from the University of Chicago where he studied the correlated evolution of limb mechanics and mechanosensation in the pectoral fins of fishes. In the Sponberg Lab, Brett will continue studying the evolution of neuromechanical systems using a diverse superfamily of moths, Bombycoidea.
You can find him at:

Dr. Stephanie Gage

PhD from University of Arizona


Stephanie Gage is fascinated by the neuroethology of pollinators. As a PhD student, she studied how neuromodulators affect olfactory-guided behaviors in the hawkmoth, Manduca sexta. This work led to a post-doctoral position with the U.S. Department of Agriculture where she created a program to determine whether sensory processing in honey bees is affected by the stressors they face. From these experiences, it became necessary to dive into how neuromodulatory processes affect sensory processing and the motor system.  She is currently working to understand how nervous systems have the flexibility to adapt while maintaining the control to execute. Her projects include: (1) learning about how behavioral context influences systemic modulation, (2) how this may influence sensory integration, (3) and what this may tell us about learning and memory.

Graduate Students

Megan Matthews

Ph.D. Candidate


Megan studies fluids, moths, and their interactions.

Joy Putney

Ph.D. Candidate

Quantitative Biosciences

Joy obtained her B.S. in Biology and Physics-Engineering from Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA. While there, she researched how electrical signals for gastrointestinal motility are altered by disease states. She has an interest in the interface between biomechanics and neural control that started with her undergrad research, and is excited to work in the Sponberg lab, because--let's face it--moths are a lot cuter than guts. When not in lab, she enjoys reading books, going to the movies, hiking, and playing video games.

Usama Bin Sikandar

Electrical engineering

Usama is an electrical engineer with a focus on dynamics and control systems. Using different models of flapping flight, he is trying to understand how hawkmoths display remarkable agility in their flight. He is also working on two collaborations: 1) With Brett in a quest to answer why silkmoths and hawkmoths fly differently; 2) With Dr. Ferrari's lab (Cornell) in remodeling their RoboBee to make it a better flier by taking inspirations from insect flight.

Varun Sharma

Quantitative Biosciences

Varun is a Quantitative Biosciences (QBioS)  PhD student interested in the Neuroscience of flight behavior. He got his B.E. in Mechanical Engineer at Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Pilani,  and his MS in Mechanical Engineering at CU Boulder. His work involves control theoretic analysis of flight behavior, and electrophysiological study of sensory and motor processes.

Leo Wood

Leo obtained his B.S. in mechanical engineering from Texas A&M, and his M.Sc. in zoology from the University of British Columbia. His prior research always focused on how matter capable of changing shape can be arranged and controlled to produce motion. Now at Georgia Tech, he’s studying how nervous systems can interact with and control muscle mechanics to produce locomotion. In his spare time he likes to play with his dog, make music, watch bad movies, read, and get demolished by friends at chess.

Ethan Wold

Quantitative Biosciences

Ethan is in the Quantitative Biosciences (QBioS) PhD program interested in the mechanisms of superfast and powerful organismal movement. He received his ScB in  Biology and Geophysics at Brown University in 2020. His work in the lab involves resonant mechanics and strain-dependent muscle activation in insect flight. Outside of research, he enjoys playing the guitar, cooking, and hanging out with his dog Remy.

Research Technicians

Marc Guasch

Lab Technician

Marc Guasch Studied Physics and Math & Computer Science at Emory University. While there he investigated one way stress and flow on buoyant objects. He runs the day to day maintenance of the lab and also works with Megan on the investigation of aerodynamic mechanisms of robust insect flight in unsteady flow. When off work, he enjoys going to concerts, socializing with friends, playing video games, and spending quality time with his dogs.

REU Scholars

Rebecca Burns

Physics Major / Russian Language Minor

Rebecca is a rising senior at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, where she has been doing applied topology research. This summer, as part of Georgia Tech’s REU in physics program, she is working on a project involving the mechanics of flight. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, math, and making movie trailers in Russian.

Sofia Russo

Physics Major/ Philosophy Minor

Sofia is a rising senior at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She is part of the Broadening Participation in Physics 2021 REU Summer Program at Georgia Tech. She is researching x-ray diffraction through insect muscle this summer. In her spare time she enjoys reading and playing beach volleyball.


Emine Zeynep Ulutas


Emine is an undergraduate Neuroscience major interested in systems and cellular neuroscience. She is working with Brett and Stephanie on understanding how contextual cues and neuromodulation can regulate behavioral plasticity in moths. In her spare time, she enjoy hanging out with my friends, playing violin, and trying out new restaurants/coffee shops.

Tobias Niebur

Electrical engineering/Neuroscience

Tobias is an undergraduate pursuing a double major in electrical engineering and neuroscience. His interests lie in invertebrate spike timing and control, and he works with Joy to analyze muscle and neural data of in flight moths in order to uncover the role spike timing plays in the system.

Manognya Sripathi

Biomedical Engineering major with a Computer Science minor

Manognya is a 3rd year undergrad majoring in Biomedical Engineering with a Computer Science minor. Manognya works with Brett on researching the causes of blinking in mudskipper fish - mainly through evaporation and visual stimuli. In her free time, she enjoys singing as part of an a cappella team, painting, hiking, and hanging out with my friends.

Harrison Fu

Biomedical engineering

Harrison is an undergraduate biomedical engineering major. He works with Brett to study mudskipper blinking. In his free time, he enjoys rock climbing, kayaking, and trying new recipes.

Haritha Sigili


Haritha is an undergraduate neuroscience major with a minor in health and medical sciences. Her interests lie within systems neuroscience. She is working with Stephanie in understanding the process behind how hawkmoths learn and apply that knowledge. In her spare time, she enjoys having out with her friends and learning to cook new recipes.

Lab Alumni

Dr. Jeff Gau (Ph.D. Georgia Tech)

Dr. Travis Tune(Ph.D. Georgia Tech)

Dr. Izaak Neveln (Ph.D. from Northwestern Univ.--Biomedical Engineering)

Brandon Pratt

Gabriela "Ella" Small (Swarthmore -- Physics)

Martha Rimniceanu (Research Technician -- now at Frye Lab, UCLA)

Amoolya Tirumalai (BME -- now at Bhandawat Lab, Duke)

Elizabeth Veith (Bio)

Rachel Barker (Physics -- now at Sober Lab, Emory)

Chidinma "Chi Chi" Chukwueke (BME -- now at Abbott Labs)

Steven Chandler (Research Technician)

Gabriela Maria Hernandez (Physics, Univ. of Miama)

Usama bin Sikandar (EE -- Masters)

Brittany Bayley (Physics -- Masters)

William Xia (ECE)

Natalie Murray (Physics)

Frank Adams (Physics/Mech. Eng. Clark Atlanta Univ.)

Hunter Hakimian (Physics)

Ravi Chauhan (Mech. Eng.)