Category Archives: news

Frankenstein at the Science Center

Tomorrow evening, October 25th, Neural Computation and Engineering graduate student Kaitlyn Casimo will be presenting a Halloween special at the Pacific Science Center: “Frankenstein: a modern postmortem”. This talk will present an updated take on the fascinating moral ambiguities of the Frankenstein story and where we stand today, both technically and ethically, on the engineering of minds.

“Frankenstein” is the latest in a series that Kaitlyn has presented in her role as a Science Communication Fellow at the Pacific Science Center. Alongside her dayjob in the Ojemann lab characterizing resting state activity and exploring the potential use of these signals in BCIs, Kaitlyn is passionate about conveying science to the community and to kids. Along with her work at the Science Center, she also acts as the primary student coordinator for UW’s Brain Awareness Week, and is the student outreach coordinator for the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering. She is helping to spread her knowledge and experience in speaking to and writing for the public with a series of workshops open to undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs that are running monthly throughout this school year. These sessions will handle topics such as crafting a memorable message, and building hands-on demos to illustrate concepts in computational neuroscience and neural engineering.


Comp neuro alums on the faculty life

Two young computational neuroscientists, who contributed so much to the UW community when they were here as graduate students, offer some reflections and previews of the faculty life.

Joshua Goldwyn is starting a faculty position in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Swarthmore College.  He is feeling “thrilled” to be in a “unique environment that features rigorous academics in a wonderfully warm and supportive community” where “the students are second-to-none in their intellectual curiosity and joy of learning.”  Looking back at UW, “What a remarkable environment (intellectual and outdoors)!  Faculty are talented and passionate about their science, and also welcoming and encouraging to students.  I keep with me the wonderful feeling of collaboration and discovery that I found at UW.”

Yu Hu is beginning a new faculty position at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), by way of fellowships at Harvard and Hebrew Universities.  At HKUST, he writes, “I am excited to explore new perspectives,” aiming to “shed light on the exploding datasets in neuroscience, by bridging to fields of mathematics.”  Of UW, he says “I am so fortunate for not only working with and studying from leaders in the field, but also for being part of a community that feels like home.”

Congratulations to postdoctoral fellows

We’d like to congratulate several of our postdoctoral fellows who have moved or are moving on to real jobs.

Anatoly Buchin came to UW in 2016 as a Swartz postdoc working with the Fairhall lab on network models of Hydra. Anatoly did his PhD with Boris Gutkin at the École Normale Superieure on interactions between biophysical properties of neurons and network dynamics, a background he brought to his several projects at UW and beyond. He will be continuing in this theme in his new position as a scientist at the Allen Institute for Brain Science, where he is developing models for epilepsy based on human cell type data.

Anatoly says, “I have recently joined the Modelling Analysis and Theory team (MAT) at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, United States. My current projects are related to development of large-scale simulations of biophysically detailed networks of hippocampal and neocortical neurons of the human brain. These simulations will provide the interpretation of the brain’s electrical signals and guide the development of the stimulation protocols aiming to reduce the pathologic excitability observed in epilepsy and Alzheimer disease. The Allen Institute is a great place to do cutting edge fundamental and translational research and provide the data to the global scientific community.”

Guillaume Lajoie did his PhD with Eric Shea-Brown on chaotic network dynamics and returned to Seattle as a UWIN/CSNE fellow after a stint in Germany with Fred Wolf. Here he worked on BCI-driven plasticity in motor cortex in collaboration with the Fetz and Fairhall labs, and will be starting an assistant professorship at the University of Montréal later this year.

Guillaume says,”I will be joining the ranks of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Montréal (UM), in Montréal, Canada. As an applied mathematician working in the field of computational/theoretical neuroscience, I am thrilled to join the mathematics, neuroscience and computer science communities at UM and throughout other institutions in Montréal. My arrival coincides with an exciting time where a number of large investments involving Montréal institutions, both governmental and private, have been announced to promote fundamental and translational research related to neuroscience, artificial intelligence and big data.”

Braden Brinkman came to UW with a PhD in Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in order to work with the Rieke and Shea-Brown groups. Braden has been working on models of how noise shapes efficient coding strategies in sensory systems as well as using tools from statistical physics to study network models of neural computation and dynamics. Next January he will be taking up an assistant professorship in the Neurobiology and Behavior department at Stony Brook University in New York.

Braden says, “The department has been expanding its focus on computational and theoretical neuroscience in recent years, with my position completing their initial core of theorists. In addition to the department’s own strengths in neuroscience, the New York area also boasts many other nearby universities and laboratories with strengths in both theoretical and experimental neuroscience, and having seen the growth of the computational neuroscience community here in Seattle over my four years at UW, I’m extremely excited to be joining a university with a similarly strong local neuroscience community.”


Training for diverse career paths

In a recent SfN webinar Developing a 21st Century Workforce, moderated by Katja Brose, speakers Huda Akil, Elisabeth van Bockstaele and Adrienne Fairhall discussed training for career paths beyond academic science, the importance of interdisciplinary training, and strategies for programs and individual students to gain opportunities to enhance students’ quantitative backgrounds. At UW, UWIN, the Computational Neuroscience program and the CSNE aim to provide students with these training opportunities and to give exposure to an increasing range of job openings in neurotechnology companies. To help plan for such a future direction, it is interesting to look at the hiring criteria for jobs at a new start-up and CSNE partner, ArianRF:

  • Solid knowledge in neuroscience
  • Experienced with neural signal acquisition
  • Experience with EEG/ECoG
  • Solid knowledge in signal processing/ statistical signal processing
  • Knowledge in machine learning and computational neuroscience
  • Motivated and self-driven: willing to be a core person and “go to guy” in a start-up company.

Graduate training applications now open!

We are very happy to announce that there are now multiple opportunities open for graduate student support in computational neuroscience and related areas. Applications are due on July 17.

Please see the websites of each program for relevant requirements. All of these slots are open to graduate students in a wide range of degree programs as long as your research lies in an appropriate area. Applications can be shared between programs; please indicate on your application which of the other programs you would like to be considered for, taking into account program requirements.

Underrepresented groups are strongly urged to apply.

Studies in Neural Computation and 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.

Students enrolled in any relevant program are eligible to join the Graduate Certificate Program in Neural Computation and Engineering, and to apply for funding through UWIN and the Neural Computation and Engineering Training Program.

 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
  • Michael Buice (Allen Institute and AMath): Models of visual computation
  • 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
  • Emily Fox (CSE, Stats): Bayesian network analysis
  • 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
  • Stefan Mihalis (Allen Institute, AMath): Algorithms of computation and learning
  • 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
  • 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
  • Eli Shlizerman (EE): Neural networks and computation
  • Bill Spain (Neuro, BPSD): Biophysics of neuronal computation
  • Kat Steele (Mec Eng): Human movement
  • John Tuthill (PBIO): Proprioception and decision-making in flies
  • Emo Todorov (Neuro, A Math, CSE): Optimal motor control
  • Daniela Witten (Biostat): Big data approaches to neural data