Sweta Agrawal, PhD

Function and evolution of proprioceptive circuits

My long-term goal is to build and run a research group focusing on the function and evolution of the Drosophila proprioceptive system.

Proprioception, an animal’s sense of position and movement of its own body, is essential for almost all coordinated movement throughout the animal kingdom. As a result, the overall organization and function of proprioceptive systems are likely conserved across different species. But, at the same time, animals vary in size, body shape, muscle types, locomotor gaits, and environments, meaning their proprioceptive systems face different challenges. Drosophila is a particularly powerful model system for understanding proprioceptive processing: central circuits that integrate and process proprioceptive inputs are more experimentally accessible than those of vertebrates, but still analogous in organization and function. Additionally,Drosophila use two different modes of locomoting (flight and walking) that operate on different timescales with separate motor systems.

Through my research, I will explore how biomechanical structure, neural processing, and motor systems constrain proprioceptive function.