School of Medicine Coronavirus Update:
Read for more details specific to medical students and School of Medicine events.


Sasha N. Zill, PhD
Associate Professor

Phone: (304) 696-7384

Research Interests

Our research is a labor of love that has as its context understanding how the nervous system generates motor behaviors.  It can be argued that nervous systems evolved in animals to allow for sensible decisions to be made in generating and adapting motor actions.  Sense organs provide the information needed for making these modifications. The animals we have studied are arthropod invertebrates, and most work in the lab is done on sense organs of insects that detect mechanical forces (mechanoreceptors).

Positive force feedback in development of substrate grip in the stick insect tarsus.
Zill SN, Chaudhry S, Exter A, Büschges A, Schmitz J. Arthropod Struct Dev. 2014 Jun 18. pii: S1467-8039(14)00048-6. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2014.06.002. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 24951882 [PubMed – as supplied by publisher]

Directional specificity and encoding of muscle forces and loads by stick insect tibial campaniform sensilla, including receptors with round cuticular caps.
Zill SN, Chaudhry S, Büschges A, Schmitz J. Arthropod Struct Dev. 2013 Nov;42(6):455-67. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2013.10.001. Epub 2013 Oct 11. PMID: 24126203 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]

Force encoding in stick insect legs delineates a reference frame for motor control.
Zill SN, Schmitz J, Chaudhry S, Büschges A. J Neurophysiol. 2012 Sep;108(5):1453-72. doi: 10.1152/jn.00274.2012. Epub 2012 Jun 6. PMID: 22673329 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE] Free PMC Article

Zill, S, Büschges, A, Schmitz, J (2011) Encoding of force increases and decreases by tibial campaniform sensilla in the stick insect, Carausius morosus. J Comp Physiol A  197:851-867.

Zill SN (2010) Invertebrate neurobiology: role of the insect brain in walking. Current Biology 2-: 438-440.

Zill SN, Keller BR, Chaudhry S, Duke ER, Neff D, Quinn R, Flannigan C (2010) Detecting substrate engagement: responses of tarsal campaniform sensilla in cockroaches. J Comp Physiol A 196:407-420.

Zill SN, Keller BR, Duke ER (2009) Sensory signals of unloading in one leg follow stance onset in another leg: Transfer of load and emergent coordination in cockroach walking. J Neurophysiol 101:2297-2304.

Zill SN, Keller BR (2009) Neurobiology: Reconstructing the neural control of leg coordination. Current Biology 19: 371-373.

Zill SN, Keller BR (2008) Neurobiology: Venom of wasps and initiation of movements. Current Biology 18: 525-527.

Zill SN (2007) Invertebrate neurobiology: sensory processing in reverse for backward walking. Current Biology 17: R462-464.

Keller BR, Duke EF, Amer AS, Zill SN (2007) Tuning posture to body load: decreases in load produce discrete sensory signals in the legs of freely standing cockroaches.  J Comp Physiol A 193:881-891

Quimby L, Amer A and Zill, SN (2006) Common motor mechanisms support body weight in serially homologous legs of cockroaches in posture and locomotion.  J Comp Physiol A 192:247-266

Kaliyamoorthy S, Zill SN, Quinn RD (2005) Force sensors in hexapod locomotion.  Int J Robotics Res 24: 563-574

Zill S, Schmitz J, Büschges A (2004) Load sensing and control of posture and locomotion.  Arthropod Struct and Dev 33:273-286 (Special Issue: Arthropod Locomotion Systems: from Biological Materials and Systems to Robotics, RE Ritzmann, SN Gorb and RD Quinn, eds.)

Sumaiya Chaudhry