UCL Division of Biosciences


CDB Seminar - Dr Robyn Grant, Manchester Metropolitan University

12 October 2023, 4:00 pm–5:00 pm

photo of Robyn Grant

Title: From mouse moustaches to walrus whiskers: What can whiskers tell us?

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Michael Wright – Cell and Developmental Biology

Talk abstract: Nearly all mammals have whiskers – sensory tactile hairs, also known as vibrissae. In fact, whiskers are only truly absent in a handful of species, including humans. However, much of what we know about whiskers comes from studying just a few species, such as laboratory rats and mice. In this presentation, I will present a snapshot of what we know about whiskers, drawing information from our comparative studies of whisker anatomy, development, evolution, and function. In particular, I will answer the following questions: how do whiskers work, develop, and evolve? And what are they for? I will also consider the applications of whisker research for mammalian behaviour, welfare, and conservation.

Zoom: https://ucl.zoom.us/j/92576663173

Host: Dr Phil Cox

About the Speaker

Dr Robyn Grant

Reader in Comparative Physiology and Behaviour at Manchester Metropolitan University

I am a Reader in Comparative Physiology and Behaviour at Manchester Metropolitan University. I am a Sensory Biologist specialising in somatosensation. I address fundamental questions about the form and function of vertebrate touch sensing by adopting an interdisciplinary approach. Specifically, my work focusses on facial touch sensors -  whiskers in mammals and rictal bristles in birds. My research answers questions in the following areas:

  • What behaviours and movements are associated with touch sensing?
  • Why is the shape of the touch sensor and the anatomy of the follicle so diverse?
  • How did facial touch sensing evolve?
  • How does neurodegeneration effect sensing and locomotion?
More about Dr Robyn Grant