Chris J. Dallmann

Neuroscientist 
Postdoctoral Fellow, Ache Lab 
University of Würzburg, Germany 
chris.dallmann at uni-wuerzburg.de
@ChrisJDallmann

Research

I’m a neuroscientist. My goal is to understand how neural circuits control arm and leg movements—a major challenge in neuroscience with implications for treating movement disorders, designing neural prostheses, and robotics. I tackle this challenge in the fruit fly, Drosophila. The unparalleled genetic tools and the compact nervous system of this model organism enable us to develop a detailed, mechanistic understanding of movement control.

In the Ache Lab (University of Würzburg), I study how neural circuits in the fly’s “spinal cord” translate movement instructions from the brain into leg movements during walking. I combine motion capture, electrophysiology, and two-photon calcium imaging of neural activity in behaving flies with comprehensive connectivity analyses (connectomics).  

In the Tuthill Lab (University of Washington), I used many of the same techniques to study how neural circuits use signals from movement sensors on the legs to control walking. 

Dallmann CJ, Agrawal S, Cook A, Brunton BW, Tuthill JC (2023). Presynaptic inhibition selectively suppresses leg proprioception in behaving Drosophila. bioRxiv. PDF

Dallmann CJ*, Karashchuck P*, Brunton B, Tuthill JC (2021). A leg to stand on: computational models of proprioception. Current Opinion in Physiology. *Co-first authors. PDF

As a graduate student, I studied how neural circuits use signals from force sensors on the legs to control walking. I took a biomechanics approach and combined motion capture, force measurements, and electromyography in freely walking stick insects—another invertebrate model organism (see also The New York Times ScienceTake).

Dallmann CJ, Dürr V, Schmitz J (2019). Motor control of an insect leg during level and incline walking. Journal of Experimental Biology. PDF

Dallmann CJ, Hoinville T, Dürr V, Schmitz J (2017). A load-based mechanism for inter-leg coordination in insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. PDF

Dallmann CJ, Dürr V, Schmitz J (2016). Joint torques in a freely walking insect reveal distinct functions of leg joints in propulsion and posture control. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. PDF

Positions

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Würzburg, since 2023

Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Washington, 2018–2023

Graduate Researcher, Bielefeld University, 2013–2018

Research Assistant, Bielefeld University, 2012–2013

Visiting Student Researcher, University of California at Berkeley, 2009 and 2012

Research Assistant, University of Applied Sciences Bremen, 2011

Education

PhD in Neuroscience, Bielefeld University, 2018

MSc in Neurobiology and Behavior, Bielefeld University, 2013

BSc in Biomimetics/Bio-Inspired Engineering, University of Applied Sciences Bremen, 2011

Honors and Awards

Marie Sklodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Fellowship, European Union, 2023–2025

Research Fellowship, German Research Foundation (DFG), 2020–2022

The Raymond and Beverly Sackler Postdoctoral Scholarship, University of Washington, 2018–2020

Best Talk Award, German Zoological Society Annual Meeting, 2016

German National Scholarship (Deutschlandstipendium), 2013

PROMOS Travel Scholarship, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), 2012

Publications

2024

Lee SJ, Dallmann CJ, Cook A, Tuthill JC, Agrawal S. Divergent neural circuits for proprioceptive and exteroceptive sensing of the Drosophila leg. bioRxiv. PDF

Zill SN, Dallmann CJ, Zyhowski WP, Chaudhry H, Gebehart C, Szczecinski NS. Mechanosensory encoding of forces in walking uphill and downhill: force feedback can stabilize leg movements in stick insects. Journal of Neurophysiology. PDF

2023

Dallmann CJ, Agrawal S, Cook A, Brunton BW, Tuthill JC. Presynaptic inhibition selectively suppresses leg proprioception in behaving Drosophila. bioRxiv. PDF

Dallmann CJ, Dickerson BH, Simpson JH, Wyart C, Jayaram K. Mechanosensory control of locomotion in animals and robots: moving forward. Integrative and Comparative Biology. PDF

Lesser E, Azevedo A, et al. [including Dallmann CJ]. Synaptic architecture of leg and wing motor control networks in Drosophila. bioRxiv. PDF

2022

Azevedo A, Lesser E, Mark B, Phelps J, et al. [including Dallmann CJ]. Tools for comprehensive reconstruction and analysis of Drosophila motor circuits. bioRxiv. PDF

2021

Szczecinski NS, Dallmann CJ, Quinn RD, Zill SN. A computational model of insect campaniform sensilla predicts encoding of forces during walking. Bioinspiration and Biomimetics. PDF

Dallmann CJ*, Karashchuk P*, Brunton B, Tuthill JC. A leg to stand on: computational models of proprioception. Current Opinion in Physiology. *Co-first authors. PDF

Zill SN, Dallmann CJ, Szcsecinski NS, Büschges A, Schmitz J. Evaluation of force feedback in walking using joint torques as naturalistic stimuli. Journal of Neurophysiology. PDF 

2019

Dürr V, et al. [including Dallmann CJ]. Integrative biomimetics of autonomous hexapedal locomotion. Frontiers in Neurorobotics. PDF 

Dallmann CJ, Dürr V, Schmitz J. Motor control of an insect leg during level and incline walking. Journal of Experimental Biology. PDF

Featured in Inside JEB “Stubborn stick insects stick to regular walk when scaling slopes

Neveln ID, Dallmann CJ, Sponberg S. Using mutual information to analyze adaptations to loading, speed, and terrain. AMAM conference. PDF 

2018

Zill SN, Dallmann CJ, Büschges A, Chaudhry S, Schmitz J. Force dynamics and synergist muscle activation in stick insects: the effects of using joint torques as mechanical stimuli. Journal of Neurophysiology. PDF 

Dürr V, Theunissen LM, Dallmann CJ, Schmitz J. Motor flexibility in insects: adaptive coordination of limbs in locomotion and near-range exploration. Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology. PDF  

Dallmann CJ. A biomechanics approach to sensorimotor control of insect walking. Doctoral thesis. Bielefeld University, Germany. PDF  

2017

Dallmann CJ, Hoinville T, Dürr V, Schmitz J. A load-based mechanism for inter-leg coordination in insects. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. PDF  

2016

Dallmann CJ, Dürr V, Schmitz J. Joint torques in a freely walking insect reveal distinct functions of leg joints in propulsion and posture control. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. PDF

Featured in The New York Times ScienceTake “Stick insect helps scientists study how animals move

2015

Dallmann CJ, Ernst MO, Moscatelli A. The role of vibration in tactile speed perception. Journal of Neurophysiology. PDF 

2014

Mongeau J-M, Demir A, Dallmann CJ, Jayaram K, Cowan NJ, Full RJ. Mechanical processing via passive dynamic properties of the cockroach antenna can facilitate control during rapid running. Journal of Experimental Biology. PDF