Faculty News

Mahadevan_MIT Robot Wig

Harvard and MIT Develop Hair-Brushing Robot

May 5, 2021

L. Mahadevan teamed with MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory to develop a hair-brushing robot. The robotic arm has a sensorized soft brush, camera with force feedback, and closed-loop control.

The robot, which can identify different hair types and groom accordingly, could be an assest in assistive-care settings.  MIT News shares a video of the robot in action. 

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Naomi Pierce and Benton Taylor 2021 Climate Fund

Naomi Pierce and Benton Taylor awarded Harvard Climate Change Solutions Fund

April 22, 2021

Professors Naomi Pierce and Benton Taylor along with seven other Harvard research teams will share $1 million in the seventh round of the Climate Change Solutions Fund (CCSF). The award was established by President Emerita Drew Gilpin Faust in 2014 to support research and policy initiatives intended to reduce the risks of climate change.

Naomi Pierce won for her proposal, "Prospecting for Functional Materials in the Entomology...

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DANNCE in Motion

3D deep neural network precisely reconstructs freely-behaving animal's movements

April 19, 2021

Animals are constantly moving and behaving in response to instructions from the brain. But while there are advanced techniques for measuring these instructions in terms of neural activity, there is a paucity of techniques for quantifying the behavior itself in freely moving animals. This inability to measure the key output of the brain limits our understanding of the nervous system and how it changes in disease.

A new study by researchers at Duke University and Harvard University introduces an automated tool that can readily capture behavior of freely behaving animals and...

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Roe Deer courtesy of Nathan Ranc

Memory Drives the Foraging Behavior of Large Wild Mammals

April 13, 2021

A recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that the foraging decisions of roe deer are guided primarily by memory, and not sensory perception alone.

The cognitive processes underlying the foraging decisions of large mammals in nature are not well understood, in part because it has been difficult to disentangle the effects of sensory perception and memory on the animals’ movements. Nathan Ranc (Ph'D '...

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Leprich, et al., Bailey Geobiology Research Group, University of Minnesota

Deep-Sea Bacteria Release Excess Carbon into the Ocean and Atmosphere

April 12, 2021

Professor Peter Girguis teamed with researchers at University of Minnesota to examine collected samples of carbonate rocks from the Del Mar East methane seep. The study published in The ISME Journal: Multidisciplinary Journal of Microbial Ecology discovered that deep-sea bacteria are dissolving the rocks, releasing excess carbon into the ocean and atmosphere. 

“If CO2 is being released into the ocean, it’s also being released into the atmosphere, because they’re constantly...

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Modern crocodile by Rutpratheep Nilpechr

Rapid evolution made ancient crocodile species more diverse

March 23, 2021

Ancient crocodiles were more diverse than modern crocodiles due to rapid evolution. Modern crocodiles live in river, lakes and wetlands, but ancient crocodiles flourished on land and in the oceans. Some even adopted dolphin-like adaptations to living in oceans, while others lived on land as plant eaters.

Stephanie Pierce, Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology, co-authored the study in ...

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Little Skate

Mathematical framework unravels the simplicity of early walking in ancient vertebrates

March 17, 2021

In 2018 researchers from New York University found that little skates, which scuttle along the sea floor on two leg-like fins, use the same motor neurons and genes that help humans and other land vertebrates walk. The study’s findings suggested the neural networks required for walking may have been present in the common ancestor of skates and mammals about 420 million years ago. But how these ancient ancestors walked remained a mystery.

Postdoctoral researcher Fabio Giardina,...

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