Welcome to the Dickerson Lab! We are in the Department of Biology at the beautiful and historic University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Our research is at the interface of neurobiology, biomechanics, and behavior and seeks to understand how locomotor output is structured by precise sensory input. We study this question in the fruit fly, Drosophila, focusing on the functional organization of its flight control circuitry.

Interested in joining the lab? We are looking for students and postdocs! See opportunities below.


1/13: Here's a nice write-up of the paper from Outside JEB.

10/11: We have an open postdoc position! Apply here.

10/10: The paper is live! Check it out!

9/20: The lab site is up and running!

8/23: Paper, "Flies regulate wing motion via active control of a dual function gyroscope," is accepted at Current Biology!

7/1: The lab is open! We are located in the beautiful Genome Sciences Building, on the second floor.



Timing is crucial in the nervous system, where the ability to rapidly detect and process subtle disturbances in environment determines whether an animal can attain its next meal or safely navigate complex, unpredictable terrain. A number of animals, such as barn owls, electric fish, and echolocating bats have evolved specialized neural circuits to resolve timing differences with micro- to nanosecond resolution. Although previous work has made tremendous strides toward uncovering the neural bases of detecting these differences, our understanding of how motor output is structured by precise sensory input remains poor. Research in our group aims to close this gap by focusing on a system that pushes the bounds of organismal performance, flight control in the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster.


Flies execute steering maneuvers in less time than it takes us to blink our eyes, which requires that they rapidly collect and process information from multiple sensory systems. Although vision is indeed an important sensory modality, mechanosensory feedback on a wingstroke-to-wingstroke basis is critical to stable flight. The lab directs its on structures that are unique to flies, known as the halteres, which act as dual-function gyroscopes that help structure the wingstroke. By studying this question in Drosophila, we can leverage the powerful genetic toolkit available for the mapping, imaging, and silencing of neural circuits. We take an integrative approach, combining in vivo imaging, muscle physiology, and behavior.


Brad Dickerson - Principal Investigator

I conducted my graduate work at the University of Washington and was a NSF Postdoctoral Research Fellow and California Alliance AGEP Fellow at Caltech. As of July 2019, I am an Assistant Professor and Kenan Honors Fellow in UNC's Biology Dept. My CV can be found here.

Join us! - Highly motivated students and postdocs that are interested in any aspect our work and a highly collaborative environment are more than welcome in the lab. The lab accepts graduate students through UNC's Biology department as well as through the joint College of Arts & Sciences/Medical School Biological & Biomedical Sciences Program. Just get in contact with Brad and we can figure out which option is the best fit for you.

We are also currently looking for postdoctoral researchers, funded either on lab grants or through independent grants/fellowships. If you are a recent Ph.D. or finishing grad student thinking about what comes next, contact Brad so that we can discuss potential projects and funding.

The lab also has room for and invites inquiries from undergraduate researchers in various capacities.


Dickerson, B.H., de Souza, A.M., Huda, A., and M.H. Dickinson 2019. Flies regulate wing motion via active control of a dual function gyroscope. Curr. Biol. 29, 3517-3524. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.08.065

Eberle A.L.*, Dickerson B.H.*, Reinhall P.G., Daniel T.L. 2015. A new twist on gyroscopic sensing: body rotations lead to torsion in flapping, flexing insect wings. J R Soc Interface. 12(104):20141088 (* denotes equal contribution)

Dickerson, B.H., Aldworth, Z.N., and T.L. Daniel 2014. Control of moth flight posture is mediated by wing mechanosensory feedback. J. Exp. Biol. 217, 2301-2308. doi:10.1242/jeb.103770

Google Scholar Profile



My interest in scientific research began informally, through attending local museums and interacting with science communicators in settings both large and small. Those experiences taught me the value of different scientific disciplines and the power of effective teaching in fostering an interest in and an appreciation for research. This has led to my longstanding interest and participation in teaching at multiple scales, both formally and informally. Biology is an increasingly interdisciplinary field of science, and addressing new and emerging open problems requires students use tools from fields both within and beyond the domain. My goals as a teacher are to equip my students with the necessary technical and communication skills to work with fellow scientists within and across disciplines, thereby opening new topics of inquiry through collaboration, and encourage scientific engagement as citizens.

me Outside of the classroom and laboratory, I am dedicated to communicating the findings and implications of my work to the lay public. Before attending graduate school, I worked as a Programs Fellow at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA. As a graduate student, I served as the coordinator of a group that organized educational materials for Avatar: The Exhibit. Additionally, I was a Science Communication Fellow with Seattle’s Pacific Science Center where I participated in their “Scientist Spotlight” events to speak with visitors of all ages and backgrounds about my research.



Green Pharmacy | Flying Animals. Podcast for the Museum of Science, Boston. You can download Brad's segment here.

Podcast describing Brad's graduate research. Here's the source of the background music.

science writing

Obama's Brain Activity Map Needs a Compass. An op-ed Brad wrote for RealClearScience.


Avatar: The Exhibition educator resources


bdicker [at] email [dot] unc [dot] edu

Office location: GSB 2157

Office phone: 919-962-0703

Mailing address:

Department of Biology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Coker Hall CB #3280
120 South Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3280

© 2019 Brad Dickerson | UNC Biology | UNC Chapel Hill