Fred Delcomyn

422A Morrill Hall
Office: (217) 333-8793
Fax: (217) 244-3499

Mail to: Department of Entomology
320 Morrill Hall
505 S. Goodwin
Urbana, IL 61801

Fred Delcomyn

Professor Emeritus of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Professor of Neuroscience
Professor of Entomology


B.S. (Biology) Wayne State University, Detroit, MI 1962
M.S. (Biology) Northwestern University, Evanston, IL 1964
Ph.D. (Biology) University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 1969

Physiology and simulation of insect behavior

Any animal‘s behavior is the result of the spatial and temporal patterning of the activity of motor neurons. How does the central nervous system generate such a pattern? We investigate this question physiologically, by computer simulation, and by robotics, using walking as a model behavior. Physiologically, we study the characteristics of sense organs and the effects of manipulation of their output on the pattern of walking. Such experiments help us to establish the contribution of different sense organs to the walking pattern. We also use computer simulations of the walking control system to study locomotion. Simulations help determine what kinds of control mechanisms can generate patterned output that is similar to that observed in the living animal, and how sensory feedback may contribute to the pattern, allowing us to further develop our concepts about how the control system is organized. Working with robotics engineers, we build and study six-legged walking robots to test specific hypotheses generated from the physiological and simulation work as to how the locomtor system can generate coordinated walking.


U.S. Public Health Service Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Oregon, March - September 1969
Summer Faculty Fellow, University of Illinois, Urbana, June - August 1973
Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected May, 1983)
Biographee in "Who's Who in Frontiers of Science and Technology " published by Marquis Who's Who, Inc. (Since 1986.)
Biographee in "Who's Who in the MidWest " Published by Marquis Who's Who, Inc. (Since 1986.)
Senior Fulbright Scholar, Federal Republic of Germany, 1987 - 1988

Representative Publications

Delcomyn, F. 1980. Neural basis of rhythmic behavior in animals. Science, 210:492–8.

Delcomyn, F. 1985. Walking and running. In Comprehensive Insect Physiology, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, Ed. by G.A. Kerkut and L.I. Gilbert, Vol. 5, Chapter 11, pp. 439-466. London: Pergamon Press.

Delcomyn, F. 1991. Perturbation of the motor system in freely walking cockroaches. I. & II. J. Exp. Biol., 156:483–517.

Delcomyn, F. 1999. Walking robots and the central and peripheral control of locomotion in insects. Auton. Rob. 7:259–70.

Reichler, J.A. and F. Delcomyn. 2000. A dynamics simulator and controller testbed for biologically inspired walking robots. Int. J. Robotics Res., 19:42–58.

Delcomyn, F. and Nelson, M.E. 2000. Architectures for a biomimetic hexapod robot. Robot. Auton. Sys., 30:5–15.

Li, J., Fan, Z., Chen, J., Zou, J., Liu, C. and Delcomyn, F. 2002. High yield microfabrication process for biomimetic artificial haircell sensors, Smart Electronics, MEMS, and Nanotechnology Conference (Conference 4700), SPIE's 9th Annual International Symposium on Smart Structures and Materials, 17-21 March 2002, San Diego, CA.

Delcomyn, F. 2004. Insect Walking and Robotics. Annual Rev. Entomol. 49:51–70.

Delcomyn, F. 2004. Insect walking. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, 3d edition (CD-ROM), edited by G. Adelman and B. Smith. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Delcomyn, F. 2004. Insect models for robotics. Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, 3d edition (CD-ROM), edited by G. Adelman and B. Smith. Amsterdam: Elsevier.