Dr. Hoy will develop four projects that will provide novel and interdisciplinary approaches, as well as teaching materials, for undergraduate courses in neuroscience and biomedical engineering. For the first project, he will apply biomimetics (how nature’s “designs” can inspire engineers) to a course for engineering and physical science students. The course, entitled “Mother Nature Wears Engineering Boots,” examines the behavioral and morphological adaptations evolved by animals to survive the rigors of natural selection in nature as sources of inspiration for engineering students looking for novel applications to robotics and material sciences. Dr. Hoy believes that reframing neuroethology in an engineering context will attract these students and provide a new take on the subject for biologists. His target is a lecture (for 15 to 150 students) and lab (for 12 to 20 students) course. The outcome is a multimedia version of the course (CD-ROM) for download to PowerPoint presentations; thus, the course has teaching implications beyond the Cornell University community.
Next is Project Fruitfly, which will focus the relationship between genes and behavior through neurogenetic research on Drosophilamelanogaster and its many neurobehavioral mutants. It is modeled on Dr. Hoy’s successful Project Crawdad, a CD-ROM that teaches neurophysiology to students in labs. The Project Fruitfly CD will provide resource material for lecture courses as well as novel laboratory exercises and demonstrations. The laboratory part of the course will focus on the genetics and neurobiology of Drosophila; the lectures will go beyond fruitflies to consider the relationship between genes and behavior in animals and humans. Dr. Hoy’s target is to develop undergraduate courses in neurobiology, psychology, and genetics as well as workshops for teachers. The outcome is to encourage geneticists to teach neurobehavioral subject matter and neurobiologists to teach about neurogenetics. The CD-ROM has potential for wide distribution in biology curricula, ranging from introductory biology courses to graduate seminars.
Third, Dr. Hoy hopes to bring together biology and engineering undergraduates into research teams, working in a lab course. The teams will do experiments on neural systems in which degeneration and regeneration are readily demonstrable. His target is to assemble three or four teams, totaling 18 to 24 students, per summer.
The fourth project will consider the challenges of developing human performance measures by using small, nonintrusive, wearable devices as a way to introduce non-science majors to some concepts of exercise and rehabilitation physiology in relation to larger issues of brain, mind, and behavior. Dr. Hoy will take advantage of technology that is now available or rapidly being developed to monitor the state of healthy humans with noninvasive sensors and to relay the information “wirelessly” by telemetry to PDAs, such as Palm Pilots, to teach human physiology, anatomy, physical education, biology, and human biology. His target is to produce lecture and lab materials for nonmajors as well as preprofessional students in biology, physiology, nursing, pre-med and preveterinary, and biomedical engineering. Adjustments in course design will be made for differences in academic backgrounds and goals. The outcome is to develop multimedia (CD-ROM) lab and lecture materials at all levels, with the aim of disseminating them to as broad an academic audience as possible.
Dr. Hoy's research interests are broad, from developmental and cell biology to behavioral genetics, neuroscience, and evolutionary neurobiology. These are reflected in his work in acoustic communication. He takes a model systems approach by studying communication acts in insects such as crickets and flies to investigate how the act of communication (signal generation, detection, recognition) is controlled by simpler neural systems and how these systems develop and evolve. Dr. Hoy’s lab tackles the problem of animal communication at multiple levels of biological organization: (1) the behavioral acts themselves and their adaptive pay-off; (2) the genetic and/or environmental determinants that control the form of the signal and influence its detection and recognition; (3) the neuroethology of communication, including the neurobiological networks that underlie signal production, the neurosensory basis of hearing, the neurophysiology of individual neurons in auditory circuits, and the evolution of the signal mechanism; and (4) the evolution of communication signals. Building on his lab’s discovery that a tiny fly possesses a novel, directionally sensitive “ear,” Dr. Hoy’s engineering collaborators were inspired to make a directionally sensitive, tiny silicon microphone for hearing aids by using nanofabrication technology. This interest in the biology-engineering interface has brought Dr. Hoy into close association with engineering faculty and students in his teaching as well as in his research.
Last updated October 2002