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Antoine Wystrach

CNRS Researcher, ERC PI

Trained as a biologist, I always wondered whether I preferred neuroscience or evolutionary biology. After a PhD spent outdoors studying ant navigation, I realised that striking a balance between these two research fields was actually possible, and fun! I further spent a few years in the UK as a postdoc modelling insects’ brain and behaviour and eventually got a research position in the CNRS. I now study ant navigation in both the lab and the field, using fancy tools such as VR, neural models and 3D worlds… or sometimes just using my hands to move an ant from A to B

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Sebastian Schwarz

Postdoc, ERC funded

I am fascinated with all kinds of animal behaviour but predominantly I try to understand how insects with seemingly simple and small brains tackle behavioural problems in their natural environment. My main study animals are social Hymenoptera such as ants and bees. My experimental focus lies in visual navigation and spatial cognition plus their respective learning and memory processes. Currently, I try to combine behaviour field studies on the navigational abilities of desert ants with modern tracking methods and virtual reality devices. More precisely, I am investigating whether visual information derived during navigation can be transferred from the natural environment to the virtual reality and vice versa.

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Léo Clément

PhD Student, ERC funded

I always liked to observe the behaviour of insect and animals in their natural environment. Recently I chose to focus on social Hymenoptera, such as bees, bumblebees, and some particular species of ants. More precisely I am interested in solitary foragers: they venture out of the nest alone and bring back the food items collected to their nest. They therefore need to have robust navigation mechanisms to ensure the sustainability of the colony. I wish to understand how their miniature brain solve the complex task of navigating in complex environments. Currently as a PhD student, I am using a trackball device to precisely record the motor movements of ant directly in their natural environment. I am also planning to use this trackball combined with a VR set up that allow me to “play” with the visual environment of the ant and thereby decode the sensory-motor rules based on the navigational behaviour.

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Erwan Tilly

Master2 Student

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Jessim Ahdjoudj

Master1 Student

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Previous team members

Florent Le Moël

PhD Student, ERC funded (2018-2021)

I have always been into both neurosciences and computing, and I realised during my Masters internship at the Biorobotics Lab (Edinburgh, Scotland) that insects were a perfectly suited model to link both my passions. Indeed, their tiny, super optimised brains can achieve many complex tasks with impressive accuracy, a statement which holds as a goal for many embedded / robotic applications. Similarly, building computational models of their brains allow us to understand how these animals tackle difficult environmentally-relevant challenges. In the Ant Navigation team, I combine neuroethological studies with desert ants directly in their environment, with computational modelling of visual navigation, and Virtual Reality in the lab.

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Blandine Mahot-Castaing

Undergrad and later Master2 student (2019 and 2021)

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Christelle Gassama (Undergrad internship 2019 and 2021)

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