In the last week of September, UW hosted the 2015 meeting of the recipients of NSF Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience grants. These awards support theorists working with experimentalists to develop and test theories of brain function. Talks covered topics as diverse as models of sequence learning in hippocampus, network instantiations of neural integrators and deciphering whole-brain representations of natural speech. Plenary speakers were Anne Churchland, from Cold Spring Harbor Labs, describing her work on cortical representations of multisensory integration in decision-making; Surya Ganguli of Stanford University, discussing the computational power of complex synapses; and Jesse Goldberg of Cornell who showed new results on basal ganglia dynamics during songbird learning. The meeting was also an opportunity to learn about new funding opportunities for theory from NSF, NIH and the BRAIN Initiative.
A highlight of the meeting was the final workshop, a lively discussion about what machine learning might be able to tell us about the brain and how studies of the brain can inform machine learning algorithms in the future. Speakers/panelists included UW faculty Emily Fox and Wyeth Bair along with Odelia Schwartz (U. Florida) and two industry researchers, Blaise Aguera y Arcas (Google Seattle) and Greg Corrado (Brains group, Google Mountain View).
Our Computational Neuroscience graduate alum, Jeremiah Wander, will be returning to UW this Thursday to join a Biosciences Careers panel discussing careers in technology. After graduating from Bioengineering with a thesis under the supervision of Rajesh Rao, Miah joined Desney Tan at Microsoft Research. Desney has been a long-time affiliate of the CSNE and of computational neuroscience at UW and Miah is working on projects in robotics. In the Thursday careers panel, Miah will be joined by Tim Blakely, a CSE alum who is now at Google working on a collaborative project with the Allen Institute for Brain Science to bring Google’s big data horsepower to world-wide connectomics efforts.
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:
- Neuroscience, Dec 1
- Bioengineering, Dec 1
- Computer Science and Engineering, Dec 15
- Applied Mathematics, Jan 15
- Speech and Hearing, Feb 15
- Biological Physics, Structure and Design, Dec 1
- Biology, Dec 1
- Psychology, Dec 1
- 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
Lars 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!
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!
The thesis 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.
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.