Joshua Swore

Postdoctoral Scholar, UW Biology

I am interested in the development of bioinspired devices. Specifically, I am interested in how we use the insect antenna in conjunction with machine learning to interpret the neural response and identify odors, known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Intriguingly, several VOCs discernible by insect antennae correlate with various health and environmental conditions. Some are emitted by individuals infected with diseases such as COVID-19 or the common cold. Others pertain to chemical leaks or are linked with substances like drugs and explosives. Within the structure of the antenna, receptors located on neurons are responsible for binding with these VOC’s. Upon binding, the receptor triggers an action potential in the neuron. Using electrodes placed within the antenna we can record the net change in voltage potential. Each VOC produces a distinct voltage signature, which, once recorded, can be used with machine learning models to identify the specific VOC behind the voltage response. My current research is centered on decoding the specific VOCs behind these voltage responses. Through leveraging advanced machine learning techniques, I aim to elucidate the unique voltage profiles associated with each VOC. The overarching goal is to construct a bioinspired sensor tailored for the detection of disease-associated VOCs.