Guest blog: Lav R. Varshney
I have been following the OpenWorm project with great interest over the last year and am really glad to be contributing to it through some blog posts on mathematical theories of neurobiology and related subjects. As background, I am an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where my research focuses on information in complex systems, whether neurobiological, sociotechnical, or nanoscale. In the past, my colleagues and I had worked on completing and analyzing the hermaphrodite C. elegans connectome in a paper, whose data is now being used in OpenWorm. This built on the pioneering work of John White, et al.
An opening line of our paper said that “the wiring diagram reported here can further be used to generate predictions about signal propagation in future perturbation, ablation, or artificial stimulation experiments” but what really intrigues me these days is the possibility of computational simulation experiments that yield a detailed, principled understanding of C. elegans biology. This, of course, is the promise of the OpenWorm project.