Steven Wiederman

Dr Steven Wiederman

Senior Lecturer

Adelaide Medical School

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.


Dr Steven Wiederman.
Senior Lecturer

In the Visual Physiology and Neurobotics Laboratory (VPNL), we study how the brain processes visual information. Consider a human catching a ball, a dog leaping at a Frisbee or a dragonfly hunting prey amidst a swarm. Brains large and small evolved the ability to predictively, focus attention on a moving target, whilst ignoring distracters and background clutter. We use electrophysiological techniques to investigate how flying insects see the world and build autonomous robots that emulate these neuronal principles.

We investigate visual processing from behavioural, computational and physiological levels, with a multidisciplinary team covering fields of neuroethology, neurobiology, psychology, computer vision and engineering.

Lab LogoIn the Visual Physiology and Neurobotics Laboratory (VPNL), we study how the brain processes visual information. Consider a human catching a ball, a dog leaping at a Frisbee or a dragonfly hunting prey amidst a swarm. Brains large and small evolved the ability to predictively, focus attention on a moving target, whilst ignoring distracters and background clutter. We use electrophysiological techniques to investigate how flying insects see the world and build autonomous robots that emulate these neuronal principles. 

We investigate visual processing from behavioural, computational and physiological levels, with a multidisciplinary team covering fields of neuroethology, neurobiology, psychology, computer vision and engineering.

Brain size(1) Capture behavioral data with arrays of medium-speed video cameras.
(2) Use intracellular, recording techniques to characterize neuronal physiology.
(3) Use dye-filling to examine underlying neuronal architecture.
(4) Develop computational models that mimic complex biological behavior.
(5) Design autonomous robots based on bio-inspired sensory and control processes.

Insects have evolved a relatively simple and efficient solution to a task that challenges the most sophisticated robotic vision systems – the detection, selection and pursuit of moving features in cluttered environments. 

modelsWe study a set of neurons from the brain of insects that achieve this visual target-detection task in spectacular fashion. Our most recent work suggests that the insects use sophisticated mechanisms of attention similar to those in primates, to aid in the selection of one feature even in the presence of distracters (e.g. feeding in a swarm). Combining electrophysiological experiments with computational modeling permits us to address research questions, such as:
How do dragonfly target-detecting neurons discriminate moving targets amidst visual clutter whilst in closed-loop pursuit?
How do neuronal responses enable ‘prediction coding’ (estimating target trajectories) and ‘selective attention’ (selecting one target amidst distracters)?

HTauNeurobotics: The physiological data obtained in our laboratory feeds into our robotics projects, as we implement neuronal processing onto an autonomous platform. This research involves computational modelling or hardware development, and is therefore suited to those with mathematical or engineering backgrounds. We work with collaborators in both Mechanical Engineering and Computer Vision on jointly supervised projects. 

 

Nanoscale Biophotonics: We are investigating the in vivo application of fluorescent nanoparticles for the purpose of recording neuronal function in behaving organisms. This research combines life and physical sciences as we explore properties of the nanoparticles, the tapering of optical fibers and their interaction with nervous tissue. This project is part of the ARC Centre for Nanoscale BioPhotonics and is in collaboration with the Institute for Photonics and Advanced Sensing (IPAS).

Media Links:

Wall Street Journal (2015), Scientists Tap Dragonfly Vision to Build a Better Bionic Eye
Australian Financial Review (2017), University of Adelaide test dragonfly neuron for artificial vision system
SAE (2017), Dragonfly study yields insight into vehicle autonomy
United Press International (2017), Dragonflies can predict their prey's next move
United Press International (2017), Honey bees have sharper eyesight than we thought 
The Engineer (2017), Dragonfly inspires predictive vision for driverless cars
Daily Mail (2017), Dragonfly's brains can predict the movement of their prey
Gizmodo (2017), How the Dragonfly's Surprisingly Complex Brain Makes it a Deadly Hunter
Popular Science (2013), How Dragonflies Could Help Scientists Build Better Robots
New York Times (2013), Nature’s Drone, Pretty and Deadly
NBC News (2012), Dragonfly has human-like power of concentration
Science Daily (2012), Dragonflies have human-like 'selective attention
Science Daily (2013), Dragonflies can see by switching 'on' and 'off'
Science Daily (2015), Robot eyes will benefit from insect vision
Science Daily (2017), Dragonfly brains predict the path of their prey
Science Daily (2017), Honey bees have sharper eyesight than we thought 
The Conversation (2012), Enter the dragonfly: insect shows human-like visual attention

 

 

    Expand
  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2016 Senior Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2014 - 2015 Lecturer University of Adelaide
    2013 - 2014 ARC Senior Research Associate University of Adelaide
    2011 - 2012 Postdoctoral Researcher University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2011 Associate Lecturer University of Adelaide
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2006 - 2007 University of Adelaide Australia Graduate Certificate In Education (Higher Ed)
    2005 University of Technology, Sydney Australia Bachelor of Engineering (Comp Sys) 1st Class Hons
    2005 University of Technology, Sydney Australia Bachelor of Medical Sciences
    2005 - 2008 University of Adelaide Australia PhD
  • Postgraduate Training

    Date Title Institution Country
    2015 - 2017 ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award University of Adelaide Australia
  • Research Interests

Australian Research Council Future Fellowship, 2018-2022
Next Generation Technologies Fund, Counter Improvised Threats Grand Challenge, 2018-2020
Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher Award, 2015-2017
 

Teaching
Lecturer of Sensory Systems in the 3rd Year Course, Cellular & System Neurobiology

 

    Expand
  • Current Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2019 Co-Supervisor Neurobiotics Inspired UAV Mountable Tracking Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Hamish Christopher Pratt
    2018 Co-Supervisor Real-Time Monitoring of Neuronal Action Potentials using Voltage-Sensitive Quantum Dots Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Ms Mengke Han
    2018 Principal Supervisor Dragonfly Neurons Aided by Light Polarization Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Matthew Benjamin Schwarz
    2017 Principal Supervisor Electrophysiological Investigation of Selective Attention in an Insect Target Detection Neuron Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr Benjamin Horatio Lancer
    2016 Principal Supervisor Development and Evaluation of Biologically Inspired Closed Loop Tracking and Pursuit Models using Simulink and Ground Based Robot Q Platform Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time John Vincent James
  • Past Higher Degree by Research Supervision (University of Adelaide)

    Date Role Research Topic Program Degree Type Student Load Student Name
    2015 - 2017 Co-Supervisor Microelectrophoresis of Semiconductive Quantum Dots Master of Philosophy Master Full Time Ms Mengke Han
    2015 - 2019 Principal Supervisor Neuronal Encoding of Natural Imagery in Dragonfly Motion Pathways Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Bernard Evans
    2014 - 2017 Principal Supervisor A Neurobiological Investigation of Visual Target Detection and the Optic Lobe of Dragonflies Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Joseph Mahandas Fabian
    2013 - 2017 Co-Supervisor An Insect-Inspired Target Tracking Mechanism for Autonomous Vehicles Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Miss Zahra Bagheri
    2010 - 2014 Co-Supervisor Facilitation in Dragonfly Target Motion Detecting Neurons Doctor of Philosophy Doctorate Full Time Mr James Robert Dunbier
  • Position: Senior Lecturer
  • Phone: 83134435
  • Email: steven.wiederman@adelaide.edu.au
  • Fax: 8313 4435
  • Campus: North Terrace
  • Building: Helen Mayo South, floor 4
  • Room: 4 22
  • Org Unit: Medical Sciences

Connect With Me
External Profiles