Squirrel Olympics!

Published today in Science – Lucia began this project in 2014 when she was awarded a residency at the newly inaugurated art-science incubator  Stochastic Labs , to create art inspired by squirrel behavior. Instead, she recruited 6 students to join her. Judy Jinn and Nate Hunt (graduate student from Bob Full lab)had been working on a different design that summer, since Lucia persuaded Nate to drop cockroaches and come to squirrels to study movement. Lucia then invited another biomechanist, Tom Libby (graduate student from Bob Full lab), and three students from the Jacobs Lab – graduate students Mikel Delgado and Jennifer Arter and undergraduate Aaron Teixiera to make a team to spend a month brainstorming – which led to our invention of the climbing wall. We demo’ed the mock-up of the wall for a Dorkbot hosted by Stochastic Labs in October 2014. Judy and Nathan then built the wall, designed and ran the experiment on the Berkeley campus.

Here’s the article (pdf): Acrobatic squirrels learn to leap and land on tree branches without falling

And the commentary in Science: Squirrels have their own gold medal moves

And an article by Jim Gorman in the New York TimesSquirrel Acrobats are as Smart as they are Athletic

Squirrel on wall

The Squirrel Team.  Nate Hunt (graduate student in Full Lab, trained in physics, whom we persuaded to switch from running cockroaches to leaping squirrels) – Judy Jinn (graduate student in Jacobs Lab, animal behavior and cognition; trained 20 species of wasps in face recognition for her undergraduate thesis, also imitation in bottle-nosed dolphins, then came to Berkeley and was co-first author showing geckos can run on water) – Lucia J. – Aaron Teixeira (undergraduate student in Jacobs Lab undergraduate assistant). Tom Libby (graduate student in Full lab) and Jen Arter (graduate student in Jacobs lab) not pictured. Where squirrels can take you… Nate Hunt is now an Assistant Professor (University of Nebraska, Omaha), Judy Jinn was recruited by Facebook where she is now a very happy quantitative UX Researcher and Aaron Teixeira has another dream job as Shelter Behavior Manager at the San Francisco SPCA.