Researcher Profile

Natasha Mhatre

Natasha Mhatre

Assistant Professor



Contact Information:
(519) 661-2111 x84505
BGG 3023


Associated Websites:

Research Areas


Natasha Mhatre is interested in understanding how different animals, particularly invertebrates, perceive sounds and also vibrations. Her research uses different experimental techniques like laser vibrometry and 3D uCT imaging, and couples them with physics and mechanics based modelling to understand how these two types of mechanosensory systems function.

Her research aims to understand the different mechanisms used by these sensory systems to adapt to their ecological needs and achieve high sensitivity. An obvious mechanism is structure, both of the sensor itself and also of the whole body that that sensor is embedded in.

Dr Mhatre is also particularly interested in a unique physiological mechanism called 'active amplification' that only some mechanosensory systems possess. In insects this process works through the sensory neurons which expend their own energy to actively amplify incoming sounds and the resulting vibrations. This amplification occurs through the activity of motor proteins within these neurons. This is a unique process for many reasons, and not least because it blends the sensory with the motor. As a result, she spends a lot of time thinking about these categories themselves, about whether and when they are useful to consider as separate.

She also occasionally works in sound and vibration production, since much of the experimental and theoretical apparatus is the same. One area of sound production that Natasha is particularly interested in is the use of acoustic tools and objects. She has shown that simple insects like tree crickets can make optimal tools and that optimization is achievable using a small set of rules. In the future, she would like to examine this cognitive system further. Dr Mhatre would also like to explore the possibility that the size of such 'rule-sets' might be a better way to think about the complexity of animal tools and objects.