Author Archives: Adrienne Fairhall

Thinking of studying Comp Neuro and Neural Engineering at UW?

Thinking of applying for PhD studies in Computational Neuroscience and Neural Engineering at UW?

The University of Washington has a rich, active and highly collaborative community of researchers in the field of computational neuroscience and neural engineering. The University of Washington is a vibrant research university with a beautiful campus in a spectacular urban setting, with an ERC Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, the UW Institute for Neuroengineering, close connections to the local tech industry and the Allen Institute for Brain Science. UW is also a major data sciences center with interdisciplinary interactions coordinated through the eSciences Institute. The city is a short distance from wilderness and outstanding summer and winter outdoor adventure.

While faculty advisors belong to a wide range of different departments, researchers come together regularly for seminars, journal clubs and a yearly retreat. Many student funding opportunities exist through multiple training grants, UWIN and the CSNE. Doctoral programs encourage collaborative research projects across departmental boundaries, but admissions and first-year course work and formal requirements are handled by graduate programs individually. Students interested in this area should apply to the program that best fits their background, interests and career goals.

 Relevant programs, websites and application deadlines include:

Faculty include:

  • Wyeth Bair (Neuro, CSE): Computer modeling of visual cortical circuits
  • Geoff Boynton (Neuro, Psychology): Functional imaging of vision
  • Beth Buffalo (Neuro): Navigation and memory in primates
  • Bing Brunton (Biology, Data Sciences): High dimensional neural data
  • Howard Chizeck (CSE, Neuro): Performance metrics for neural interfaces
  • Tom Daniel (Neuro, Biology): Sensorimotor integration and flight control
  • Horacio de la Iglesia (Neuro, Biology): Circadian rhythms
  • Marcel den Nijs (Physics): Statistical mechanics of brain function
  • Adrienne Fairhall (Neuro, BPSD, Physics): Adaptive neural coding, sensorimotor integration
  • Eb Fetz (Neuro): Motor control and brain-computer interfaces
  • Ione Fine (Neuro, Psychology): Human visual psychophysics and imaging
  • David Gire (Neuro, Psychology): Mammalian olfaction
  • Bertil Hille (Neuro, BPSD): Biophysics of neuronal signal transduction
  • Greg Horwitz (Neuro): Cortical color processing
  • Nathan Kutz (A Math): Nonlinear dynamics and dimensionality reduction
  • Adrian KC Lee (Neuro, Speech and Hearing): Auditory scene analysis with imaging
  • Chet Moritz (Neuro, Rehab Medicine): Neural prosthetics
  • Sheri Mizumori (Neuro, Psychology): Neurobiology of decisions, learning, and memory
  • Bill Moody (Neuro, Biology): Cortical development
  • Scott Murray (Neuro, Psychology): Visual neuroimaging
  • Jay Neitz (Neuro): Color vision
  • Jeff Ojemann (Neuro, Neurology): Human neural function and neuroprosthetics
  • Anitha Pasupathy (Neuro): Neurobiology of visual shape processing
  • David Perkel (Neuro, Biology, S&H): Neural mechanisms of vocal learning
  • Steve Perlmutter (Neuro): Motor control
  • Chantal Prat (Neuro, Speech and hearing): Auditory processing
  • Nino Ramirez (Neuro): Neural control of rhythmic activity
  • Rajesh Rao (Neuro, CSE): Computational modeling and brain-computer interfaces
  • Fred Rieke (Neuro, Physics, BPSD): Sensory signal processing in the retina
  • Jeff Riffell (Neuro, Biology): Neuroecology and chemosensation
  • Ed Rubel (Neuro, BPSD, S&H): Development of the auditory system
  • Jay Rubinstein (Neuro, BioE, S&H): Biophysics and engineering of cochlear implants
  • Eric Shea-Brown (Neuro, A Math): Nonlinear dynamics in neural computation and coding
  • Bill Spain (Neuro, BPSD): Biophysics of neuronal computation
  • Kat Steele (Mec Eng): Human movement
  • Emo Todorov (Neuro, A Math, CSE): Optimal motor control


Tech Sandbox winner continues to shine

larsCrawfordLars Crawford, graduate of the Neurobiology/Computational Neuroscience program’s class of 2014, was recently accepted into the Technology Commercialization Fellowship Program at the University of Washington’s Center for Commercialization for his work on a virtual home rehabilitation system called vHAB. A kinematic hand sensor and custom EMG sleeve controls a set of dynamic games that emulate traditional upper extremity therapy tasks and is designed to keep patients motivated in their home rehabilitation while collecting usage and ability data over time. The vHAB concept was a winner in the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering’s Tech Sandbox course/competition in which Lars’ team, also including bioengineering graduate students Brian Mogen and Tyler Libey, created the system. The team has continued to work on the project to push it toward market and help to improve lives. The fellowship is intended to provide personal funding and mentorship to help Lars realize this goal. Congratulations!

Brain University continues

Our Seattle Arts and Lectures series, Hacking the Brain to Reveal, Repair, Rebuild, launched on October 1 with a mind-bogglingly fun and informative talk from Phil Horner about the use of stem cells to repair spinal cord. The series continues on October 22 with a talk by Beth Buffalo on the remarkable spatial coding properties of the hippocampus, for which the 2014 Nobel Prize in Physiology was awarded, and how we may be able to intervene to enhance memory. Sneak previews promise a fascinating evening. Spread the word to family and friends!

Beth talk ad



Congratulations to Yu Hu!

The Huthesis of Yu Hu, an Applied Mathematics PhD Student advised by Eric Shea-Brown, was selected as the top-ranked thesis in mathematical sciences, physics and engineering in the competition for the 2014 UW Graduate School Distinguished Dissertation Award.  His dissertation, “Collective Activity in Neural Networks: the Mathematical Structure of Connection Graphs and Population Codes,” propelled him to a Swartz Fellowship at Harvard, where we’ll be watching to see more great findings coming down the comp neuro pipeline.

New graduate students

We are happy to announce the new graduate trainees in the Computational Neuroscience Program.

Yoni Browning, working in the Buffalo and Fairhall labs, is working on primate navigational strategies and their representation in hippocampus using virtual reality environments. Yoni is a graduate of the UW undergraduate computational neuroscience program. He will be cofunded by UW Institute for Neuroengineering.

Kaitlyn Casimo, working with neurosurgeon Jeff Ojemann, works on the measurement and characterization of ECoG signatures of resting state activity.  Kaitlyn is also cofunded by the UW Institute for Neuroengineering.

Phil Mardoum, a graduate of the University of Chicago’s computational neuroscience program, will be working with Fred Rieke and Rachel Wong on optimal filtering by synapses in the retina.

Joris Vincent, who will work with Steve Buck on computational models of lightness perception, is a graduate of University College Utrecht with a background in neuroscience and psychology.




Dispatch from Friday Harbor

We are well into the second week of our new summer Workshop on the Dynamic Brain, co-hosted by the UW Computational Neuroscience program and the Allen Institute for Brain Science. The course is held at Friday Harbor Labs, UW’s exquisitely beautiful “science camp” on the forested shores of San Juan Island.  This course has a very distinct flavor compared with other computational neuroscience courses: it is structured around the data being produced by the Allen Institute. Twenty-four students from all over the world have gathered for the opportunity to learn to use relevant tools, access new data and to start to think about constructing models for cortical function based strongly on measured anatomy and ultimately, physiology and activity data from behaving animals– all with help and advice from the people creating and curating that data for public use.  Christof Koch, Clay Reid, Shawn Olsen and Michael Buice discussed visual processing, connectomics and high-level models of cortical function while Lydia Ng, Nick Cain and David Feng introduced students to tools to explore the “projectome” using AIBS unpublished data and to click together network models using a new graphical user interface called SimViz.  Along with the Allen Institute team, speakers have included local UW faculty including Adrienne Fairhall and Eric Shea-Brown on models of neural coding, visual scientists Wyeth Bair, Anitha Pasupathy and Jay Neitz and data sciences guru Bill Howe; Google engineer Blaise Aguera y Arcas speaking on machine intelligence; and Anne Churchland, from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, on circuits of decision-making.

Students are busy carrying out cool projects including analyses of the topography and multisensory nature of projections into superior colliculus, building dynamical models based on the projectome connectivity matrix and developing recurrent networks for feature extraction.

As today’s highlight, Christof Koch accepted the ALS ice bucket challenge.

Christof takes the bucket!

Wyeth helps Christof accept the ice bucket challenge.

Working with projects in the mess hall

Student Alex Cayco-Gajic works with AIBS faculty Shawn Olsen, Nick Cain and David Feng.

Friday Harbor

Friday Harbor ferry terminal



Karl in Germany

marrett_lowresUndergraduate computational neuroscience student Karl Marrett is conducting research this summer through the CSNE funded Brain Links – Brain Tool Summer Exchange.   He is forming a collaboration between his current lab  at UW, led by Adrian “KC” Lee, which has a focus in auditory brain science and Michael Tangermann’s lab at the University of Freiburg that specializes in machine learning and brain computer interfaces.

Class of 2014

Congratulations to our computational neuroscience graduates of 2014, and their mentors! Many of our students will be staying on for an additional year to take extra classes and continue working in labs. Pictured here: Front– Teresa Jiang (Moody lab), Thida Myint (Spain lab), Nivretta Thatra (Perkel and Brenowitz labs), Phanith Touch (Neitz lab), Karl Marrett (Lee lab). Back– Matt Summers (Rieke lab), Lars Crawford (Bair lab).

Class of 2014