Volker's research explores how animals achieve autonomous, context-dependent control of behaviour through active interaction with their environment. He takes an inter-disciplinary approach, combining methods from behavioural physiology (e.g., motion capture and kinematics), neurophysiology (e.g., extra- and intracellular recording of nervous and muscular activity), biomechanics (e.g., morphological and physical constraints of limbs) and computational modelling (e.g., sensitivity analyses and artificial neural network modelling).
Volker studied Biology at the University of Tübingen, the University of Sussex (UK) and the Max-Planck-Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen. His PhD studies were on neurophysiological aspects of visual information processing in insects, which he conducted at the Australian National University in Canberra and at the Department of Neurobiology at Bielefeld University. After receiving his PhD, Volker became research fellow at Bielefeld University, where he obtained his habilitation in Zoology in 2005. During that time, he focussed on sensory-guided, context-dependent control of motor behaviour (mainly in insects) and neural network modelling of locomotor behaviour. In 2002 he was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study Berlin (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin). From 2007 to 2009, he led his own research group at the University of Cologne, focusing on active tactile sensing in insects, its role in locomotor control and its implementation in bionics/biorobotics. In 2009 Volker was appointed head of the Department of Biological Cybernetics at Bielefeld University. From 2011 to 2014 he was coordinator of the EU project Embodied Motion Intelligence for Autonomous Cognitive roBots (EMICAB, FP7-ICT). At present he is a principal investigator at CITEC.