Science AMA Series : I’m Barani Raman, a biomedical engineer at
Washington University in St. Louis, I study insect olfactory systems and
create “cyborg insects”, AMA!
I’m Barani Raman, a biomedical engineer at Washington University in St.
Louis. I started my career as a computer engineer trying to develop an
“electronic nose,” (a non-invasive chemical sensing system). The
current state-of-art systems that we fabricate are no match to the
capabilities of the biological olfactory system. So, I have been
studying the insect olfactory system for the past decade to understand
their design and computing principles. Our current approach is
two-pronged: (i) conduct basic neuroscience investigation to understand
how a relatively simple insect olfactory system works, and from there
take inspiration to design the next generation e-noses (ii) take
advantage of recent advances in miniaturized, low-power, flexible
electronics to create “cyborg insects” and use them as biorobotic
sensing systems. Recently, my group has made several important findings
regarding how locusts smell, what are some of the neural information
processing principles, and what are the rules that govern how neural
activity can get translated to behavioral outcomes. AMA! Thank you so
much for the interest in understanding my work and all the terrific
questions. This was fun and it is good to know what the tax payers care
about as well.