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I study the vocal toadfish plainfin midshipman (Porichthys notatus), an excellent model organism for bioacoustics and mating behavior. I am primarily interested in the following two areas:
1. Honest acoustic signalling
Nesting type 1 male midshipman produce long duration advertisement calls (Called 'hums') to attract females. These calls are nocturnal, meaning that females locate the nests primarily using acoustic cues. Since females likely lay all their eggs in a single nest, I am interested if they can infer potential information about the quality of the male from the hum i.e if the hum acts as an honest reflector of male quality. I am testing if there is a correlation between hum related features such as amplitude and fundamental frequency, and potential quality indicators such as body size, and condition.
2. Role of the swim bladder in directional hearing
Female plainfin midshipman are exceptionally adept at locating the hums of male plainfin midshipman. Unlike terrestrial animals, fish determine the direction of sound from acoustic particle vibrations. However, sounds coming from opposite directions create exactly the same particle vibrations. It is thought that the sound scattered from the gas filled swimbladder plays a role in distinguishing sounds incident from opposite directions. I am using finite element analysis to model how the scattering of sound from the swim bladder modifies the motion of the inner ears. My hypothesis is that the direction dependent scattering of sound from the swim bladder improves the ability of the inner ears to classify sound direction.
I graduated from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research Pune with a BS-MS in science in April 2017. For my masters' thesis, I investigated the landing maneuvers of houseflies (Musca domestica) on walls and ceilings, in the lab of Dr. Sanjay Sane, National Center for Biological Sciences, Bangalore, India. My work demonstrated that as flies approach the landing surface, they begin to slow down at a fixed time before touchdown. If they did not do so, they end up colliding with the landing surface. As an undergraduate, I also worked in the areas of community ecology, phylogenetics, and comparative anatomy. I joined the Department of Biology at the University of Washington as a graduate student in September 2018, and then joined the Sisneros lab during Spring 2019.