Group members

Professor Daniel Robert

Head of lab.

Dr Fernando Montealegre Zapata

Dr Fernando Montealegre Zapata is an Entomologist with expertise in tropical ecosystems and a strong interest in the evolution of invertebrate physiologies that produce and process ultrasonic signals. In 1997 he received a Diploma degree in Entomology from the Universidad del Valle, Colombia, followed by a PhD from the University of Toronto in 2005. For two years he joined the lab of Dr Mason in Toronto as a postdoctoral fellow, where they collaborated on a project studying the mechanisms of communication in extreme ultrasonic katydids from the neotropics. His expertise is biomechanics of structures that generate and receive signals in acoustic insects (e.g. eardrum membranes and sound generators). His approach to these studies is based on laser vibrometry and opto-motion detectors. In Bristol, he will focus on the mechanisms underlying the reception of acoustic signals in Tettigoniidae; specifically on the hollow acoustic trachea as wave guides.

Dr Joanne Gornall

Dr Joanne Gornall is a Biophysicist with a strong interest in the mechanical properties of biological molecules. In 2008 she completed her PhD with Professor Eugene Terenjtev at the Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, studying the helix-coil transition in biopolymer networks. Currently, she is using a combination of techniques, including optical tweezers, AFM and optical microscopy, to study various aspects of cellular mechano-sensing in Dinoflagellates and synthetic model systems such as unilamellar vesicles and emulsions.

Jade Cho

Jade Cho is in the final year of her PhD in the Bionanoscience group with Professor Daniel Robert. She graduated from Bristol University with an MSci degree in Physics in 2003. Her main interest in Physics as an undergraduate lay in the Polymer Sciences and she is eager to incorporate this into her current project. Working with insects for the first time, her project involves mechanically characterising the mosquito’s antenna for potential applications in artificial nanomechanical sensors. She has taken a new dynamic approach in studying the insect anatomy by imitating the methods mechanical engineers use in their study of macrostructures. Once she has successfully characterised the antennal structure she hopes to move on to fabricating novel type of sensors.

Yu-Po Chen

Yu-po Chen is a PhD student in her second year in the Bionanoscience group. She got her BSc in Entomology from National Chung Hsing University in Taiwan in 2004. Her degree dissertation is about how colour preference affects the behaviour of the oriental fruit fly. After graduating, she was a research assistant in Academic Sinica and National Taiwan University for two years. She started her PhD in 2006, focussing on the effect of courtship song components in Drosophila.

Thorin Jonsson

Thorin Jonsson completed his diploma degree in Biology at the Georg-August-University in Goettingen, Germany with a thesis about communication during aggressive behaviour between male Drosophila melanogaster. There he was trained in bioacoustical and behavioural techniques as well as in the use of Laser Doppler Vibrometry. After that he joined the University of Auckland, New Zealand for research on brain nuclei used in songbird communication where he learned in vivo single- and multi-unit electrophysiology and immunocytochemical staining methods. He is now doing his PhD in the Bionanoscience group, focussing on the neural and mechanical basis of acoustic communication in Drosophila.

Katie Lucas

Katie Lucas completed her BSc.H. in Biology at Queen's University in Kingston, Canada with a thesis on cold tolerance in Drosophila melanogaster. She then went on to complete her MSc at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada studying the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of hearing in butterflies. During her Master's project, Katie travelled to Bristol to study butterfly membrane mechanics using laser Doppler vibrometry in the Robert lab. She has now returned to Bristol to start a PhD, and is studying the neurophysiology and active sensing capabilities of antennae in mosquitos and Drosophila. .

Erica Morley

Erica Morley graduated from the University of Bristol in 2004 with a BSc in Biology. After two years working as a research assistant, and the completion of a master’s degree, she has returned to Bristol to start a PhD in the Bionanoscience group. Her project focuses on audition and communication in Drosophila; an excellent model system in which to investigate mechanisms underlying the production and reception of acoustic signals.

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Previous Members...

Dr James Windmill

Dr James Windmill was a Postdoctoral Fellow between 2003 and 2008. He is a qualified engineer with a PhD in Nanotechnology. Originally trained in electronic engineering, he has been involved in nanoscience research since 1998. He is an expert in Scanning Probe Microscopy, with specific interests and skills in the instrumentation involved. This has included both topographic and magnetic imaging techniques. He joined the research group as a postdoctoral researcher in 2003. Working with collaborators in the Physics Department he has helped to bridge the gap between the biological and physical aspects of our Bionanoscience research. Dr Windmill's research here has included investigations into the nano-mechanics of insect sound receivers. His latest research project aims to improve our understanding of the processes through which mechanical vibrations at the nanoscale are converted to neural signals. He is now a Lecturer at the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering (CUE) in Glasgow.

Vicky Pook

Vicky Pook was a Research Technician here in the Bionanoscience group. She has now left to work as a volunteer teacher in Ethiopia.

Dr Joseph C. Jackson

Dr Joseph Jackson completed his PhD here in the Bionanoscience group in January 2008. His research project focussed on the dynamics of insect sound receivers, investigating the processes involved in maximising detection of nanometre deflections caused by sound.

Dr Liz Tuck

Dr Liz Tuck recently completed her PhD here in the Bionanoscience group. Her research project examined nanoscale auditory receivers using a combination of behavioural experiments and Laser Doppler Vibrometry.

Dr Jerome Sueur

Dr Jérôme Sueur spent some time as a postdoctoral research assistant in the Bionanoscience group. One of his research project's here at Bristol examined the sound radiating from a flying fly. He is now a Professor Assistant (Maître de Conférences), at the Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle, Paris, France. His research is focused on animal acoustic communication, in particular for pair formation, where his main model for study is the cicada.

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