Professor and Chair, Biology
Susannah Hannaford’s research interests include nerve cells, the circuits into which these cells are organized, and the behaviors they mediate. A neurobiologist, her area of specialization is sensory physiology, which focuses on how animals detect changes in their environment, process this information in their brains, and sort through this complexity to detect the important features—potential mates, predators, and food. For more than a decade she has studied insect behaviors, ranging from how flies "taste" their environment with their feet and wings, to how male moths find conspecific mates and avoid females of other closely-related genera. She also has researched how insects detect forces on their wings and use this sensory information to refine their flight. Hannaford has collaborated with psychologist Robin Foster in studies of the behavior of bees, including examining changes in bumblebee brain structure with age and experience.