State-of-the-art approach to interdisciplinary research
Bush-cricket hearing is the epitome of sophisticated evolution that integrates biology, engineering and biophysics. It has been elaborated to increase the chance of acoustic detection by allowing optimal separation from at least two acoustic inputs (potentially more) to each ear. By using an interdisciplinary approach linking sensory biology, physics, mathematics, and engineering, this project aims to generate new knowledge that will form the basis for breakthroughs in acoustic sensors. The hearing elements of the bush-crickets are currently being scrutinised physiologically, mechanically, and structurally in the micro-nano-scale, to investigate directionality, sensitivity, frequency analysis in correlation to the neuromechanochemical properties of the physical hearing components. This interdisciplinary approach allows us to elucidate the functions of the outer, middle and inner ear components, experimentally and in combination with advanced computation will help us to inform the development of novel acoustic sensors that mimic the bush-cricket hearing sensitivity, frequency mapping, and multi-input directional hearing. We envisage that our research will contribute to advancements in hearing aid technology, cochlear implants processing algorithms, ultrasound detectors and imaging. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the project, we are also producing novel material properties data that will have a strong impact in the field of tissue and cellular engineering. The flow diagram below describes how the various subprojects are organised to meet objectives and produce deliverables.
The ERC project has allowed us to push the boundaries of the traditional bioacoustics hearing research on insects. Our current interdisciplinary projects, which are state-of-the-art, have a positive effect on moving the field of sensory biology towards the development of new methodologies and research approaches. The interdisciplinary nature of this group provides an excellent environment for knowledge transfer, lateral thinking and multidisciplinary training.
Use of the synchrotron national facility in Oxfordshire
After the first national lockdown, the lab visited the Diamond Light Source to use the synchrotron national facility in Oxford, in a visit that lasted five days between 7th-12th October, 2020. The visiting team included PDRAs Eleftherious Siamantouras, Darron Cullen, PhD student Charlie Woodrow, and PI Fernando Montealegre-Z. We scanned over 90 samples, which are currently being processed for future analysis and modelling.
This project structure has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.(Grant agreement ERC CoG 2017 773067)