Most people are irritated by the buzzing of a fly's wings. But biologist Michael Dickinson views the sound with a deep sense of wonder.

Why you should listen

Some things are so commonplace that they barely register our attention. Michael Dickinson has dedicated much of his research to one such thing -- the flight of the fly. Dickinson aims to understand how a fly's nervous system allows it to accomplish such incredible aerodynamic feats. Affectionately dubbed the "Fly Guy" by The Scientist, Dickinson's research brings together zoology, neuroscience and fluid mechanics.

Dickinson was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2001. He is now a professor of biology at the University of Washington, where he heads The Dickinson Lab. The lab conducts research into insect flight control, animal brain recordings, animal/robot interactions and animal visual navigation and welcomes students with an interest in studying insect flight, behavior and evolution from an interdisciplinary approach perspective. 

What others say

“While fleeing a rolled-up newspaper, the [fly] can change course in as little as 30 thousandths of a second. Now Prof Michael Dickinson ..., who has spent two decades studying flies, announces that their ability to escape is all down to quick thinking.” — The Telegraph

Michael Dickinson’s TED talk

More news and ideas from Michael Dickinson


New playlist: The world of tiny things

June 9, 2013

There’s a time and a place for the big picture; there’s a time and a place for the tiny one. This week, watch the playlist “The world of tiny things,” all about viewing the unseen and looking at the world on a very small scale. In this playlist, E.O. Wilson makes a plea for insects […]

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