signal-in-the-noise | episodes

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Signal in the Noise

In this episode, we are joined by Barbara Webb and Anna Hadjitofi. Barbara runs the Insect Robotics lab at the University of Edinburgh, and Anna is a PhD student at the School of Informatics at the university. She is interested in studying and understanding the neural mechanism of the honeybee waggle dance. They join us to discuss the paper: Dynamic antennal positioning allows honeybee followers to decode the dance.

Barbara and Anna shared some breakthroughs in the field of animal communication. Anna discussed how the honeybee uses the waggle dance to communicate. She discussed how the colony of bees shares responsibilities when foraging for different food options. Anna also gave some history about the study of the waggle dance.

Our guests explained how they captured the waggle dance of honeybees in their hives. They also discussed how they analyze the data to make conclusive findings. They shared the models used to predict the angle of the dance and also discussed how the honeybee follower understands the angle of the dancer.

Barbara discussed what the neural socket is. She also discussed how researchers use the neural socket to understand the workings of insects' brains. They both discussed the kind of computations the honeybee brain can do. Rounding up, they shared prospects about bioinspired robotics.

Paper in focus

Dynamic antennal positioning allows honeybee followers to decode the dance

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Anna’s GitHub

Barbara’s Google Scholar

Barbara Webb obtained a BSc in Psychology at the University of Sydney followed by a PhD in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh, where she began her exploration of insect-inspired robots by building a robot cricket. She held faculty positions in the University of Nottingham and University of Stirling before returning to the University of Edinburgh where she is now Professor of Biorobotics in the School of Informatics. She leads the Insect Robotics group there and investigates navigation, learning and sensorimotor control, including the underlying neural circuitry. Her approach has been highly influential, and she has been invited to write reviews of the methodology in Nature and Science. She was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.

Anna Hadjitofi is a PhD researcher at the University of Edinburgh, interested in the neural circuits underlying communication in honeybees. She has a background in neuroscience and computing. Prior to her PhD, she worked in data science and AI-related research positions at Microsoft Research (Cambridge) as well as the Alan Turing Institute (London).

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