Mechanics of Behavior in Non-Neuronal Systems and Other Puzzles from the Depths of the Ocean

Seminar | February 28 | 11 a.m.-12 p.m. | 3110 Etcheverry Hall

 Manu Prakash, Department of Bioengineering, Stanford University

 QB3 - California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences

Remarkable behavioral complexity in metazoans can be attributed to the evolution of the neuron and the nervous system. But for such a system to arise in the pre-cambrian era, precursors of animals without neurons must have roamed the earth at some point of time. Soft-bodied animals make for a very poor representation in our fossil records, shutting the door to inferring origins of behavioral complexity prior to nervous systems as we know it. By exploring diverse living relatives of multi-cellular and single-celled organisms spread across the tree of life, I will share examples of quantitative methods to construct behavioral motifs in simple non-neuronal systems.

Time permitting, I will also share old biological puzzles, new tools and opportunities and an urgent need to understand planktonic life - the biological soup we call the ocean.

Finally, we will discuss ways to bring young people into the fold of sciences by letting them explore the wonders of the microscopic world - in their own terms - around the world and share our own work in making the process of science more equitable.