About Me

I’m a queer Southerner who found their way to neuroethology by way of a stint working as a baker: a professor at the University of South Carolina figured that if I could turn out consistent baked goods on a regular basis, I’d probably make a good bench scientist. After taking his neurobiology course, he hired me to teach students how to record from neurons and build bio-inspired robots. I eventually parlayed this experience teaching electrophysiology and design into a position designing equipment for electrophysiology, and I spent the next two years designing and building an automated electroretinography system and other equipment for Dan Speiser’s visual ecology lab. Learning to speak machine helped hone my questions about processing in non-silico subjects, and I joined the Lohmann lab at UNC to study how the Caribbean spiny lobster processes Earth’s magnetic field in Fall 2018. Since then, I’ve developed computational models for sensing & processing the magnetic field that explain observed lobster orientation behavior. Now I’m collaborating with the UNC Quantitative Biology and Engineering Sciences laboratory to develop bioinspired robotics from my models and planning future behavioral field work.

At UNC, I also work with the graduate student-led DEI group. My own background, experience teaching a highly technical electrophysiology lab, and copious amounts of data all support our conviction that rigorous intellectual work requires contributions from a diversity of perspectives and that academia benefits from increased accessibility. If you’re having difficulty navigating what can sometimes be a confusing and unfriendly system, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

luke.t.havens [at] gmail [dot] com


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