Dean’s Lecture Series

The Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering are excited to present the 2011-2012 series, and encourage you to join us at one or all of the lectures. Our distinguished speakers are all at the leading edge of their fields.

Marco Santello
Grasping the brain: unlocking the mysteries of the human hand

Nov. 18, 4 p.m.
Brickyard 210
699 S. Mill Ave., Tempe
Lectures are free and open to the public.

Light refreshments are served prior to the lecture to allow you to meet our guest lecturer. Due to limited space, registration is required.

engineering.asu.edu/lectureseries 

Marco Santello, professor and interim school director
School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering

Ever find yourself wishing you had a third hand? The hand is unique in its versatility and the role it plays in everyday life. We largely take for granted the coordination between the brain, sensory feedback and motor control in the hand needed for what seems like simple tasks—picking up a cup of coffee, using an iPhone or waving to a friend. When this capability is disrupted by neural disease or mechanical injury, quality of life is significantly impacted. Yet, restoring hand function remains a challenging task.

Marco Santello, interim director and professor in ASU’s School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering, says he became fascinated with motor control because of the brain’s ability to learn and execute a very wide range of movements. By studying the fundamental control mechanisms, Santello’s research vision is to provide insights into more effective diagnosis and rehabilitation of motor function in patients affected by neuromuscular and neurological disorders such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease, focal dystonia and carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as biologically-inspired robotics and neuroprosthetics.

He chose the hand as a model because it is unique in its versatility and the role it plays in everyday life—and it is involved in both perception and action. The problems studied range from microscopic to macroscopic—individual cells controlling muscle fibers to describing the strategies used to manipulate objects and plan complex movements using memory and visual feedback. Finding solutions to complex problems such as brain control of the hand requires a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together biologists, physiologists, engineers and neuroscientists.

On November 18, Santello will provide an overview of his research and the advances made in this area as well as insight in to future studies.

Upcoming dean’s lecture series:

  • Gary Dirks, Feb. 2, 4 p.m., University Club, Heritage Room
  • Ed Kavazanjian, March 15, 8:30 a.m., University Club, Heritage Room
  • EPICS competitive teams, April 26, 8:30 a.m., University Club, Heritage Room

engineering.asu.edu/lectureseries 

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