Janelia Farm

Last night I went to a lecture series hosted by the Janelia Farm Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The talk, on the evolution of human color vision, was terrific—and I was given the opportunity to take a tour of their lab facilities.

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(Click the image above for a small gallery of additional pictures).

The facilities are beautiful, and the lab is doing some really interesting work. One of the projects involves trying to understand how dragonflies navigate in the air to be able to catch their prey. A combination of little motion tracking dots on the dragonflies, high speed cameras—and even little electronic “backpacks” attached to the dragonflies—help scientists acquire their data.

It was also very interesting to see some of the support infrastructure. Projects like this often need to use equipment that isn’t readily available, so the lab maintains sophisticated machine shop and electronics fabrication capabilities that are used to build the things that can’t be bought.

It’s a fascinating place and well worth a visit if the opportunity arises.

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