On April 27th, 2012, the Moto-IGERT program hosted the second Chicago Neuromechanics Symposium on the University of Chicago campus.
Neuromechanics is a rapidly growing field of research that encompasses a breadth of scientific areas. Researchers who study neuromechanics are interested in how organisms accomplish movement and explore this question by examining motor mechanics and skeletomuscular properties; the neural circuitry underlying movement, sensorimotor processing, and learning; and how these structures develop and evolve. Studying motor systems from such diverse perspectives allows us to fully understand how they work.
This symposium successfully brought together a diverse group of motor control researchers and students not only from across the Chicago area, but also from institutions throughout the rest of Illinois, and even Wisconsin, to discuss current scientific research within the interdisciplinary field of neuromechanics. Furthermore, it succeeded in nurturing and expanding the previously-existing Chicago neuromechanics research community, while fostering collaborative bonds between researchers.
A large variety of talks were given by invited speakers from many of the diverse areas within neuromechanics research. Among these speakers were Karen Sears (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) with her talk entitled, "Bridging the Gaps: Uniting Genetics, Development and Paleontology to Study Mammalian Limb Evolution" and Roy Ritzmann (Case Western Reserve University), whose talk was entitled, "Negotiating Barriers: Insect Brain and Behavior Studies for Better Robots." In addition, attendees of the symposium were given the opportunity to discuss their research with fellow attendees during the evening's poster session. Finally, in the keynote talk, Michael Dickinson (University of Washington) gave an exciting look into the mechanics behind flight and visual navigation, as well as its modulation and regulation, in his wonderfully engaging talk, "Straighten Up and Fly Right: Visual Navigation in Fruit Flies."
Thank you to all presenters and attendees for making the meeting the success it was. We would like to additionally thank the Center for Integrative Neuroscience and Neuroengineering Research (CINNR), the University of Chicago Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy, and the University of Chicago Committee on Evolutionary Biology for the financial support, which made this symposium possible.