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Research Spending & Results

Award Detail

Awardee:DREXEL UNIVERSITY
Doing Business As Name:Drexel University
PD/PI:
  • Vikas Bhandawat
  • (617) 699-3378
  • vb468@drexel.edu
Award Date:12/11/2019
Estimated Total Award Amount: $ 582,347
Funds Obligated to Date: $ 582,347
  • FY 2018=$72,347
  • FY 2019=$510,000
Start Date:07/01/2019
End Date:02/28/2022
Transaction Type:Grant
Agency:NSF
Awarding Agency Code:4900
Funding Agency Code:4900
CFDA Number:47.074
Primary Program Source:040100 NSF RESEARCH & RELATED ACTIVIT
Award Title or Description:CAREER:A Multidisciplinary Approach to Unraveling the Neural Circuits that Govern Odor Modulation of Locomotion and to Improving Neuroscience Education
Federal Award ID Number:2010705
DUNS ID:002604817
Parent DUNS ID:002604817
Program:Modulation
Program Officer:
  • Edda Thiels
  • (703) 292-8167
  • ethiels@nsf.gov

Awardee Location

Street:1505 Race St, 10th Floor
City:Philadelphia
State:PA
ZIP:19102-1119
County:Philadelphia
Country:US
Awardee Cong. District:03

Primary Place of Performance

Organization Name:Drexel University
Street:1505 Race Street
City:Philadelphia
State:PA
ZIP:19102-1119
County:Philadelphia
Country:US
Cong. District:03

Abstract at Time of Award

A simple task like walking to one's favorite coffee shop involves computation across several timescales. On a short timescale (less than 1 second), one has to move one's legs on an uneven surface and maintain balance; on a medium timescale (a few seconds) one has to walk relatively straight on a sidewalk; on a longer timescale (minutes), one has to follow the street signs or use one's memory to navigate; and on an even longer timescale decisions such as whether or not to drink coffee are made. The mission of the principal investigator's laboratory is to understand neural computations underlying behavior at multiple timescales as they apply to a given task using novel techniques such as creating mathematical models of behavior and developing new methods for probing neural activity as it relates to behavior. The proposed research also has an important educational mission: Most problems in the world require interdisciplinary thinking, which is best taught at an early age. In this project, high school students are directly involved in the investigator's multidisciplinary research program, with the goals of (1) deepening the students' neuroscience education with a focus on engineering, mathematics, and technology, (2) exposing them to interdisciplinary training at a younger and more receptive age, and (3) preparing them well to think holistically about complex scientific problems. The overarching objective of the principal investigator's research is to understand how sensorimotor transformation unfolds in the brain during the performance of complex behaviors that are part of an animal's natural behavioral repertoire. The gap in understanding of this process exists because attacking this problem requires an integrated, multidisciplinary approach that combines neuroscience techniques, animal behavior, and computational skills- a combination not often found in one investigator. The central hypothesis of the project is that flexible behaviors emerge from a modular organization and can be divided into two neural subtasks: (1) to devise an "action plan" that transforms sensory responses into actions; and (2) to adapt the action plan to current demands and thereby generate behavioral flexibility needed for successful task execution. The project tests this hypothesis in the context of odor-guided locomotion, a complex flexible behavior, in a relatively simple and genetically highly tractable model system, Drosophila. A multidisciplinary approach that includes mathematical modeling, in vivo whole-cell patch clamp recordings, functional imaging, and quantitative behavioral analysis is employed to address the central hypothesis.

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