We study mechanosensory systems. We also occasionally study the signalling end of the same systems. But what I really do is hope, fondly (and perhaps, crazily) that we can, for at least this small corner of biology, develop the sort of experimentally testable and tested, philosophical, theoretical and predictive framework that physics has managed. I acknowledge that I may have physics, or worse, maths envy. Worse still, I may still be hoping to earn the Ph part of my PhD. I think of this extension of this xkcd comic often.
Dr. Erin Brandt is a postdoc in the Mhatre lab, starting in September 2019. She is broadly interested in sexual selection, thermal biology, and the mechanistic bases of behavior. Dr. Brandt graduated with her Ph.D. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management from UC Berkeley in 2019. She conducted her dissertation work in the Elias Lab, focusing on how temperature impacts sexual behavior, physiology, and movement ecology in jumping spiders. Her work in the Mhatre lab examines the relationship between temperature, movement, and perception in spider sensory organs.
Vinod Shankar is a mechanical engineer by qualification and is broadly interested in insect ecology and evolution, specifically in understanding their morphological adaptations. Owing to his qualifications as an engineer, he is particularly intrigued by how mechanics play a vital role in their biological structures and adaptive strategies. He has worked on various projects in the field of evolutionary biology, applied ecology, animal interaction, etc. and currently with the Mhatre Lab, he is interested in developing novel experimental protocols/ systems/ techniques to measure and quantify some of the interactions/ patterns that are observed in nature, and also in simulating them.