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John Tuthill, UWIN faculty, wins 2018 McKnight Scholar Award

John Tuthill, UWIN faculty, winner of a 2018 McKnight Scholar AwardWe are proud to announce that John Tuthill, a UWIN faculty member, has won a 2018 McKnight Scholar AwardThe McKnight Scholar Awards, administered by the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience, “encourage neuroscientists in the early stages of their careers to focus on disorders of learning and memory”.

The McKnight Scholar Awards “are granted to young scientists who are in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories and research careers and who have demonstrated a commitment to neuroscience. The mission of the Endowment Fund is to support innovative research that can bring science closer to the day when diseases of the brain can be accurately diagnosed, prevented, and treated.”

John Tuthill is one of six researchers awarded a 2018 McKnight Scholar Award.  His research is on the topic of “Proprioceptive Feedback Control of Locomotion in Drosophila”: “Proprioception–the body’s sense of self-movement and position–is critical, for the effective control of movement, yet little is known about how the brain’s motor circuits integrate this feedback to guide future movements. Dr. Tuthill’s lab is working to unlock the essence of motor learning in the brain by investigating how walking fruit flies learn to avoid obstacles and navigate unpredictable environments, assessing the role of sensory feedback in motor control by optogenetically manipulating proprioceptor activity. A deeper understanding of proprioceptive feedback control has the potential to transform the way in which we understand and treat movement disorders.”

Previously, Dr. Tuthill was named a 2017 Allen Institute Next Generation Leader, awarded a Sloan Fellowship, named a 2017 Searle Scholar, and received a UW Innovation Award.

2018 UWIN Undergraduate and Post-baccalaureate Fellowships awarded

Join us in welcoming UWIN’s newest undergraduate and post-baccalaureate fellows!  Six undergraduate students and three post-baccalaureate researchers were awarded 2018 UWIN Fellowships.  You can read all about their exciting research below, and follow the links to see all of UWIN’s undergraduate and post-baccalaureate fellows.

2018 UWIN Undergraduate Fellows

Mahad Ahmed, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Fellowship Mahad Ahmed (2018 fellow) is an undergraduate student working with Tanvi Deora and Tom Daniel in the Biology department. He is investigating the neural basis of learning in hawkmoths (Manduca Sexta). Mahad’s current project looks at mechanosensation’s role in this learning, seeing how different flower shapes influence the moth’s feeding behaviors.
Mackenzie Andrews, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Fellowship Mackenzie Andrews (2018 fellow) is an undergraduate student in Bioengineering and Neurobiology with a minor in Neural Computation and Engineering. She is working with Charles Chavkin in the Departments of Pharmacology. Mackenzie’s research investigates how brain regions communicate to drive behaviors associated with drug abuse and addiction. She is designing a device to be simultaneously implanted in two brain regions in mice capable of optogenetic modulation and electrophysiological recording of neural activity. After graduating, Mackenzie will be continuing this project into her Bioengineering Master’s thesis where she will be doing the computational work required to analyze the data.
Alyssa Giedd, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Fellowship Alyssa Giedd (2018 fellow) is an undergraduate student working with Momona Yamagami and Sam Burden in the Electrical Engineering department. Alyssa’s research focuses on the development and testing of a remote data collection tool for quantifying motor planning. This will allow for the collection of data remotely so a greater number of individuals can participate in research on Cerebral Palsy.
Joyce Huang, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Fellowship Joyce Huang (2018 fellow) is an undergraduate student in the Bioengineering department, working with Rajiv Saigal in the Neurosurgery Department. Joyce’s research focuses on electronically controlled drug release for the treatment of spinal cord injuries. She intends to pursue an MD degree and continue research in neuroengineering after graduation.
Aiden Maloney-Bertelli, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Fellowship Aiden Maloney-Bertelli (2018 fellow) is an undergraduate student in Bioengineering and Electrical Engineering who works with Ramkumar Sabesan in the Ophthalmology department. Aiden is working on image processing algorithms for optical coherence tomography (OCT) of the human retina to support research in the emerging field of optophysiology. She and her lab aim to use a variant of OCT to noninvasively measure neuronal responses to visual stimuli and, thereby, provide insight into how the retina functions in healthy and diseased states.
Clara Orndoff, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Fellowship Clara Orndorff (2018 fellow) is an undergraduate Mechanical Engineering major working with Tom Libby and Sam Burden in the Electrical Engineering department. Clara’s research includes designing and building a system that will be able to analyze the different methods with which moths use multi-sensory information to increase their agility. Specifically, this system will quantify a flying moth’s response to mechanically applied perturbations. The goal of this work is to obtain results that can be used to build and improve nature-inspired flying robots.

2018 UWIN Post-baccalaureate Fellows

Kirsten Gilchrist, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Fellowship Kirsten Gilchrist (2018 fellow) is a post-baccalaureate researcher working with Steve Perlmutter and Jane Sullivan in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. Kirsten’s research uses optogenetics to promote synapse regrowth and formation between cortical and spinal neurons. Her project will provide fundamental information on neural plasticity, with the goal of eventually improving treatment for spinal cord injuries. Kirsten attended the University of Washington where she received a bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology.
Pralaksha Gurung, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Fellowship Pralaksha Gurung (2018 fellow) is a post-baccalaureate researcher working with John Tuthill in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics. Pralaksha is studying the diversity and distribution of proprioceptors along the leg of Drosophila melanogaster (fruit flies). She will be characterizing the anatomy of function of tibial proprioceptors using optogenetic tools. Pralaksha graduated from Colby College with a bachelor’s degree in Cellular Molecular Biology/Biochemistry.
Aidan Johnson, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Fellowship Aidan Johnson (2018 fellow) is a post-baccalaureate researcher working with Wu-Jung Lee in the Applied Physics Laboratory. Aidan’s research focuses on deriving the computational principles of sensorimotor behavior in the context of coordinated flight and multi-agent active sensing. He is broadly interested in the signal processing that occurs within the brain and how the functions of individual neurons are combined for system-level action and perception. He recently graduated from the University of Washington where he received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering.

2018 UWIN Postdoctoral Fellowships Awarded

Please welcome UWIN’s newest postdoctoral fellows!  Four outstanding researchers have been awarded 2018 UWIN Postdoctoral Fellowships, providing two years of support for their neuroengineering research at the University of Washington. Their exciting work ranges from neural implants to spinal cord stimulation to improving language learning, and two of them are co-supported by the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.  The fellows will be starting their positions throughout the summer and fall of 2018.  You can read their exceptional biographies below, and follow the link to see all of UWIN’s current and emeritus postdoctoral fellows.

Laura Arjona, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Postdoctoral Fellowship Laura Arjona works in collaboration with Joshua R. Smith in Electrical Engineering and Chet Moritz in Rehabilitation Medicine. Laura’s research focuses on high performance readers and protocols for backscatter-based neural implants. Neural implants have the potential for significant impact in medicine, from restoring the use of limbs after spinal cord injury, to “electroceutical” alternatives to drugs, to brain-computer interfaces. Laura will be developing technology that will enable higher performance data transfer, as well as low latency bi-directional communication, which is essential for high-performance control of the nervous system. Laura will soon hold a doctoral degree in Engineering for the Information Society and Sustainable Development from the University of Deusto in Bilbao, Spain. She received a master’s degree in Information and Communication Electronic Systems from UNED University in Madrid, and a bachelor’s degree in Telecommunications Engineering from the University of Granada. Laura was awarded a specialization fellowship from the University of Deusto, and a Researcher Staff Training fellowship from the Basque Country Government.   She is co-funded by UWIN and the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.
Kinsey Bice, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Postdoctoral Fellowship Kinsey Bice works in collaboration with Chantel Prat in Psychology and Rajesh Rao in Computer Science and Engineering. Kinsey’s research aims to optimize language learning by identifying how to direct brain activity into the best state for learning. Using EEG and machine learning techniques, her project will provide insight into the functional correlates and flexibility of the brain’s activity at rest, and will help in developing software and technologies that could make it easier for adults to learn new languages. Kinsey received her doctoral degree from Pennsylvania State University in Psychology with a dual-title in Language Sciences and a Specialization in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Lylah Deady, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Postdoctoral Fellowship Lylah Deady works in collaboration with John Tuthill in Physiology & Biophysics and Andre Berndt in Bioengineering. Lylah’s research seeks to design and implement genetically encoded tools to query neuronal circuitry in real time. Her work at UW concerns developing a sensor to report neuronal inhibition and use it to identify the role of GABAergic input in Drosophila leg proprioceptive circuits. Lylah received her doctoral degree in Physiology & Neurobiology from the University of Connecticut.
Allie Widman, recipient of a 2018 UWIN Postdoctoral Fellowship Allie Widman works in collaboration with Steve Perlmutter and Adrienne Fairhall in Physiology and Biophysics. Allie’s research aims to understand how targeted activity-dependent spinal stimulation, a potential treatment for spinal cord injury, alters neuronal circuits to improve forelimb function. Through a brain-computer interface, this stimulation protocol induces plasticity based on precise timing of neural activity. The focus of her study is to identify the time course and specificity of this spike-timing-dependent plasticity in descending and somatosensory pathways using neurophysiology and modeling experiments. Allie received a doctoral degree in Neuroscience from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas. In addition to being named a WRF Innovation Postdoctoral Fellow, her awards include fellowships from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the National Institutes of Health.  She is co-funded by UWIN and the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.

Applications open for 2018 UWIN undergraduate and post-baccalaureate fellowships

Applications are now open for the 2018 WRF Innovation Undergraduate and Post-baccalaureate Fellowships in Neuroengineering.  Applications are due by Tuesday, March 6th, 2018.

These fellowships provide up to $6000 to support undergraduate and post-baccalaureate researchers committed to working in UWIN faculty labs.  More information about applying for these fellowships can be found in the links below:

Registration open for 2018 Neural Computation and Engineering Connection (NCEC)

2018 Neural Computation and Engineering Connection posterRegistration is open for the 2018 Neural Computation and Engineering Connection (NCEC)!  It will be held on the afternoon of Thursday, January 18, 2018 and all day Friday, January 19, 2018.  NCEC brings together the UW neuroengineering and computational neuroscience communities in an exciting and stimulating event!

NCEC 2018 features many superb keynote speakers: Allison Okamura (Stanford), Loren Frank (UC San Francisco), Vivian Mushahwar (University of Alberta), Takaki Komiyama (UC San Diego), Ila Fiete (UT Austin) and David Reinkensmeyer (UC Irvine).  Local speakers include: Sheri Mizumori (Psychology), Amy Orsborn (Electrical Engineering/Bioengineering), Azadeh Yazdan (Bioengineering/Electrical Engineering), Nino Ramirez (Seattle Children’s Research Institute).  UWIN and Computational Neuroscience graduate and postdoctoral fellows will also be giving talks.

**Registration is free but required.  Please register at: https://goo.gl/forms/UqdiCv9CX4ftrrKw1.
Registration closes on Monday, January 8th.**

A general schedule is available at: http://uwin.washington.edu/ncec/, and a detailed schedule will be available closer to the event.  Thursday’s daytime events will be at the CSNE (Russell Hall Suite 204, 1414 NE 42nd St.). Thursday evening will end with a launch event and reception in the Health Sciences Building for the new UW Computational Neuroscience Center.  Friday’s events will be at the Husky Union Building (HUB) room 250, with an evening reception in HUB 145.

UWIN faculty Andre Berndt and John Tuthill named 2017 Allen Institute Next Generation Leaders

Andre Bernt and John Tuthill, UWIN faculty named as 2017 Allen Institute Next Generation LeadersWe are excited to announce that two UWIN faculty members, Andre Berndt and John Tuthill, have been named as 2017 Allen Institute for Brain Science Next Generation Leaders!  The Allen Institute’s Next Generation Leaders are “distinguished early-career researchers who will provide feedback in both formal and informal settings to scientists at the Allen Institute”.

“We are very pleased to welcome this group of impressive researchers as advisors to the Allen Institute,” says Christof Koch, President and Chief Scientific Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. “Their caliber and fresh perspectives make them invaluable to our team. We look forward to hearing their feedback as well as providing guidance as they build their own careers.”

According to the Allen Institute, “Next Generation Leaders are selected each year through a competitive application process from a pool of international applicants.”  Six researchers were appointed in the 2017 cohort; only two of the six are from the University of Washington, and both of those are UWIN faculty members!  This is the first time University of Washington faculty have been named Allen Institute Next Generation Leaders.

Earlier this year, Dr. Tuthill was also awarded a Sloan Fellowship, named a 2017 Searle Scholar, and received a UW Innovation Award.

You can read more at the Allen Institute press release, as well as see the biographies of Drs. Berndt and Tuthill.

Applications open for 2018 UWIN postdoctoral fellowships in neuroengineering

Applications are open for UWIN’s 2018 WRF Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Neuroengineering.  These highly selective fellowships fund research in computational and engineering approaches to neuroscience; joint mentoring between faculty in different disciplines is strongly encouraged.

The fellowships provide two years of funding including a $65,000 annual salary and a $25,000 research stipend.

Applications are due by January 16, 2018. Please see http://uwin.washington.edu/post-docs/ for more information.

2017 WRF Innovation Graduate Fellowships in Neuroengineering awarded

We are pleased to announce the seven exceptional University of Washington graduate students have been awarded 2017 Washington Research Foundation Innovation Graduate Fellowships in Neuroengineering: Aaron D. Garcia (Neuroscience), Vaishnavi Ranganathan (Electrical Engineering), Soshi Samejima (Rehabilitation Science), Raymond Sanchez (Neuroscience), Mohammad Tariq (Neuroscience), Momona Yamagami (Electrical Engineering), and Ezgi Yücel (Psychology).  Read about the new fellows and their exciting, innovative research below:

Aaron D. Garcia is a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience program advised by Bing Brunton in Biology and Elizabeth Buffalo in Physiology and Biophysics. Aaron’s research centers on identifying brain activity in the hippocampus and surrounding structures used during navigation and memory tasks. His approach involves applying empirical mode decomposition in tandem with Hilbert Spectral Analysis to local-field-potential data recorded from high-density micro-drives. Aaron received a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Boston University. He is a joint fellow of UWIN and the Computational Neuroscience Training Grant.
Vaishnavi Ranganathan is a Ph.D. student in Electrical Engineering working with Josh Smith in the Sensor Systems Lab. Vaishnavi’s research interests include fully wireless wearable devices and implantable neural interfaces for treatment and rehabilitation in patients with spinal cord injury. Specifically, she works on wireless power transfer and power-aware computation for implantable devices to remove the need for batteries and enable autonomous operation. Vaishnavi received a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and completed her bachelor’s degree at Amrita University in India.
Soshi Samejima is a Ph.D. student in Rehabilitation Science working with Chet Moritz in Rehabilitation Medicine and Rajiv Saigal in Neurological Surgery. Soshi’s research focuses on restoring mobility and leg/arm function for people with spinal cord injury by using electrical spinal stimulation and rehabilitation through neural interfaces and robotics. For the last 10 years, Soshi worked as a physical therapist. He received a clinical doctoral degree in physical therapy from MGH institute of Health Professions, a master’s degree in Biomedical Science and Athletic Training from Thomas Jefferson University and Texas Tech University respectively, and a bachelor’s degree in Health Science from Kanazawa University, Japan. He is co-funded by UWIN and the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering.
Raymond Sanchez is a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience program working in the lab of Horacio de la Iglesia in Biology. Raymond is interested in the neural circuits regulating sleep and circadian rhythms, and their relationship to neurological and psychiatric diseases. The goal of his research is to develop and validate a closed-loop system for real-time manipulations of sleep and seizures in a genetic mouse model of Dravet syndrome, a severe form of childhood epilepsy accompanied by sleep disturbances. This system will serve as an open-source experimental tool for researchers interested in the interactions between sleep and disease, and inform the development of novel therapeutic devices for Dravet and other epileptic syndromes. Raymond received a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience & Cognitive Science from the University of Arizona.
Mohammad F. Tariq is a PhD student in the Neuroscience program working in the labs of David Gire in Psychology and David Perkel in Biology and Otolaryngology. His work focuses on understanding how olfactory cues in the environment guide memory formation and decision-making. He uses electrophysiology and imaging from freely behaving animals to study the network and physiological mechanisms that allow olfactory information to make robust memories of the environment. Mohammad received his bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from the Georgia State University.
Momona Yamagami is a graduate student in Electrical Engineering working with Kat Steele in Mechanical Engineering and Sam Burden in Electrical Engineering. In her research, Momona uses a computer trajectory-tracking task to quantify and predict motor planning impairments in children with cerebral palsy. She is broadly interested in understanding how humans learn different control models to plan their movements. Momona received her bachelor’s degree in Bioengineering from Rice University in Houston, Texas.
Ezgi Irmak Yücel is a graduate student in Psychology, where she is a member of the Vision and Cognition Group working with Ione Fine in Psychology and Ariel Rokem at the eScience Institute. Ezgi’s research broadly focuses on visual perception and restorative technologies for blindness. Her current project aims to validate a retinal model of restored vision developed by UWIN postdoctoral fellow Michael Beyeler. She will use psychophysical methods to accomplish this, with the eventual goal of optimizing stimulation protocols for retinal prosthetics to improve visual outcomes. She received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy from Bilkent University in Turkey.

November 2017 UWIN seminar: Short talks by Sawyer Fuller and Wyeth Bair

Sawyer Fuller and Wyeth Bair, the November 2017 UWIN seminar speakers.The November 2017 UWIN seminar features a fascinating pair of short talks by UWIN faculty members Sawyer Fuller and Wyeth Bair:

  • “Fly-inspired visual flight control of insect-sized robots using wind sensing”
    Sawyer Fuller, Assistant Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Washington
  • “Comparing shape representation in mid-level visual cortex to that in a deep convolutional neural network”
    Wyeth Bair, Associate Professor, Department of Biological Structure, University of Washington

The seminar is on Wednesday, November 8th, 2017 at 3:30pm in Husky Union Building (HUB) 337.  Refreshments will be served prior to the talks.

——

Abstracts:

“Fly-inspired visual flight control of insect-sized robots using wind sensing” (Sawyer Fuller):

In the Autonomous Insect Robotics Laboratory at the University of Washington, one of the projects we are interested in is how to give robots the size of a honeybee the ability to fly themselves autonomously. Larger drones can now do this task, but they use sensors that are not available in insect-sized packages, like the global positioning system and laser rangefinders. We are left with sight, the same modality used by flies. But visual processing is typically computationally intensive. I will describe research I performed on flies that reveals that they overcome this by combining slow feedback from vision with fast wind feedback, and discuss ramifications for our robots.

 

“Comparing shape representation in mid-level visual cortex to that in a deep convolutional neural network” (Wyeth Bair):

Convolutional neural nets (CNNs) are currently the best performing general purpose image recognition computer algorithms.  Their design is hierarchical, not unlike the neural architecture of the ventral visual pathway in the primate brain, which underlies form perception and object recognition.  We examined whether units within an implementation of “AlexNet” (Krizhevsky et al., 2012), following extensive supervised training, end up showing selectivity for the boundary curvature of simple objects in an object-centered coordinate system, similar to that found for neurons in the mid-level cortical area V4 (Pasupathy and Connor, 2001).  I will show how the units in AlexNet compare to those in V4 in terms of shape-tuning and translation invariance and will discuss the benefits and limitations of comparing complex artificial neural networks to the brain.

UWIN faculty Bing Brunton and Steve Brunton win AFOSR Young Investigator Awards

Bing Brunton and Steve Brunton, winners of AFOSR Young Investigator AwardsWe are extremely proud to announce that two UWIN faculty members, Bing Brunton (Biology) and Steve Brunton (Mechanical Engineering) have each won an AFOSR Young Investigator Research Program Award!  The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Program recognizes those “who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research”, and who have received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in the last five years.

Bing’s awarded proposal was on “Sparse Sensing with Wing Mechanosensory Neurons for Estimation of Body Rotation in Flying Insects”.  Steve’s winning proposal was on “Interpretable Nonlinear Models of Unsteady Flow Physics”.  AFOSR Young Investigator Awards provide a 3-year grant totaling $450,000.

In addition to these prestigious awards from AFOSR, Bing was recently awarded a UW Innovation Award, and Steve won the 2017 UW College of Engineering’s Faculty Award for Teaching.

You can read more about the AFOSR Young Investigator awards on the AFOSR website.  Bing’s award from AFOSR was also highlighted on the UW Biology website.

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