The Nishikawa Lab

Kiisa C. Nishikawa

Position: Principal investigator

Education:B.S.Biology (State University of New York, Albany), Ph.D. (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Postdoctoral Fellow (Dalhousie University, Nova Scotia, Canada), Miller Fellow (University of California, Berkeley)

Technique specialties: High speed kinematics, muscle lever techniques, modeling of intrinsic muscle properties.

The biomechanics and neural control of ballistic movement

     The unifying theme of my research is the evolution of behavior. My interest in how behavior evolves has led to interdisciplinary studies in a wide range of fields, including evolutionary ecology, behavioral neuroscience, biomechanics and muscle physiology. My earlier work focused on the ecological and behavioral interactions of salamanders in the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. More recent studies have investigated the neural basis of behavior in amphibians, specifically the swimming behavior of frog tadpoles and the visually guided prey capture behavior of salamanders. My current research has three components: 1) evolutionary studies of the biomechanics and neural control of prey capture in frogs; 2) studies of the more general problem of how brains and nervous systems evolve; and 3) studies of the mechanisms of power amplification in muscles that produce ballistic movements, including prey capture and jumping in frogs and prey capture in chameleons. Whereas my research has focused on these questions, I have worked on diverse projects with my graduate students whose research interests range broadly in the areas of neuroethology, comparative physiology and ecomorphology.

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