Category: Fellows (Page 1 of 4)

Applications open for 2019 UWIN undergraduate and post-baccalaureate fellowships

Applications are now open for the 2019 WRF Innovation Undergraduate and Post-baccalaureate Fellowships in Neuroengineering.  Applications are due by Monday, March 4, 2019.

These fellowships provide up to $6000 to support for 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:

January 2019 UWIN seminar: talk by Guillaume Lajoie

January 2019 UWIN Seminar speaker Guillaume Lajoie

The first UWIN seminar of 2019 features a talk by visiting speaker Guillaume Lajoie from Université de Montréal’s Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The talk is titled “Successful learning in artificial networks thanks to individual neuron failure”.

Guillaume is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the Université de Montréal, and is also an Associate Member of Mila, the Quebec Institute for Learning Algorithms. We are especially excited to welcome Guillaume back to UW as he was previously a UWIN postdoctoral fellow!

The seminar is on Wednesday, January 9, 2019 at 3:30 in Husky Union Building (HUB) 337. Refreshments will be served prior to the talk.

Abstract:
This talk will outline work in progress. Not unlike the brain, artificial neural networks can learn complex computations by extracting information from several examples of a task. Typically, this is achieved by adjusting the parameters of the network in order to minimize a loss function via gradient descent methods. It is known that introducing artificial failure of single neurons during a deep network’s training, a procedure known as dropout, helps promote robustness. While dropout methods and variants thereof have been successfully employed in a variety of contexts, their effect is not entirely understood, and relies on stochastic processes to select which units to drop. Here, I will discuss two methods designed to purposely select which units would best benefit learning if dropped or temporarily modified, based on their tuning, activation and the current network state: The first method is aimed at improving generalization in deep networks, and the second combats gradient exploding and vanishing in recurrent networks, when learning long-range temporal relations. While gradient descent methods for artificial networks are not biologically plausible, I will discuss how relationships between neural tuning and failure during training can inform exploration of learning mechanisms in the brain.

Neuron paper on proprioception published by UWIN affiliates John Tuthill and Pralaksha Gurung

"Neural Coding of Leg Proprioception in Drosophila" written by John Tuthill and Pralaksha Gurung, published in Neuron

Graphical Abstract for “Neural Coding of Leg Proprioception in Drosophila”

UWIN faculty member John Tuthill and UWIN-post baccalaureate fellow Pralaksha Gurung published a paper in Neuron  on how sensory neurons in a single leg joint in Drosophila (a genus of flies often lumped together as “small fruit flies”) code movements and control behavior in that joint. The paper titled “Neural Coding of Leg Proprioception in Drosophila” describes the work using fluorescent dye-based two-photon calcium imaging to isolate and investigate these specific sensory neurons.

In order to move, nearly all mobile animals rely on receptors that specialize in position and movement called proprioceptors. Challenges arise in modeling and analyzing proprioceptors due to complications in isolating the specific clusters of receptors and relating them across individuals in a species. These challenges were addressed in this paper by focusing on a specific proprioceptor group within the leg of the fruit fly – which previous research had marked as controlling precise leg movements, such as walking.  In order to isolate the specific proprioceptor, a magnet and pin glued onto the fly’s tibia controlled the fly’s leg position.  By measuring neuron activity during the fly’s range of leg movements, the researchers found the sub-classes of neurons that responded to different positions of the joint, as well as the neuron’s sensitivity to movements.  The isolation and mapping of the cluster of neurons provides more insight into how proprioceptors aid in everyday motion.

"Neural Coding of Leg Proprioception in Drosophila" written by John Tuthill and Pralaksha Gurung, published in Neuron

This work helps build an understanding of how stimulation of a single leg joint is received and translated by sensory neurons, and also builds a framework for how complex feedback signals are used in the body to dictate movement.  This work connects with the mission of the Air Force Center of Excellence on Nature-Inspired Flight Technologies and Ideas (NIFTI).

Previously, Dr. Tuthill won a 2018 McKnight Scholars award,  was named a 2017 Allen Institute Next Generation Leader, was awarded a Sloan Fellowship, was named a 2017 Searle Scholar, and received a UW Innovation Award.

Successful spinal cord rehabilitation trial by UWIN affiliates Chet Moritz and Soshi Samejima featured on King 5 News

Successful spine injury rehabilitation trial conducted by UWIN affilliates Chet Mortiz and Soshi Samejima

Transcutaneous Spinal Stimulation project with Chet Moritz
Image credit: Center for Neurotechnology;

UWIN/Center for Neurotechnology (CNT) graduate fellow Soshi Samejima, and UWIN faculty member (and CNT Co-Director) Chet Moritz were featured on King 5 News for their research which resulted in a successful spinal cord rehabilitation trial.  The article focuses on the study participant, Joe Beatty, who suffered a spine injury which left him with a “future life without the use of his limbs.”  During the course of the study, Joe has regained some fine control in his limbs, going from having “a difficult time to feed himself, grabbing thing, grasping utensils” to movement that is “improved where he can grab sandwiches, he can grab a remote, grab his cell phone,” even walking with some aid for up to eight minutes.  With defined improvements in Joe’s movements, the initial trial has been a success and the Center for Neurotechnology is looking to refine and expand the new method of rehabilitation for chronic spinal cord injuries.

Dr. Mortiz and his team changed the traditional invasive methods of spinal cord rehabilitation by applying transcutaneous electrical simulation – that is, stimulation of spinal cord circuits through the skin. This noninvasive electrical stimulation happens at the same time that the patient performs movements, and the stimulation allows the patient to move better than without stimulation.  Repeated sessions even lead to long term improvements, although the exact mechanism has not been solidified. Currently, Dr. Mortiz and his team believe that by having the simulator firing at the same time that the patient practices movements, the patient can rewire the connections between the neurons in the brain and the spinal cord, leading to long term changes.

With initial success in nerve stimulation trials, the study plans to expand to four other states with the intent to design individual units that patients can take to their house in order to provide convenient ongoing treatment.  Learn more about this research on the Center for Neurotechnology website and in the study’s associated paper.

Soshi Samejima was awarded a UWIN graduate fellowship in 2017.  Chet Moritz, in addition to being the CNT Co-Director and a member of the UWIN Executive Committee, is part of the team running the Laboratory for Amplifying Motion and Performance (AMP Lab).  He was also part of the team awarded a $1 million prize as part of reaching the finals in the GlaxoSmithKline Bioelectronics Innovation Challenge.

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.

UWIN fellows Kaitlyn Casimo and Karley Benoff named two of the 2018 Husky 100!

UWIN fellows Kaitlyn Casimo and Karley Benoff, both named to the 2018 Husky 100Congratulations to UWIN graduate fellow Kaitlyn Casimo and UWIN undergraduate fellow Karley Benoff, who were named two of the 2018 Husky 100!  Each year the Husky 100 award “recognizes 100 UW undergraduate and graduate students from Bothell, Seattle and Tacoma in all areas of study who are making the most of their time at the UW”.

Students named to the Husky 100 “actively connect what happens inside and outside of the classroom and apply what they learn to make a difference on campus, in their communities and for the future. Through their passion, leadership and commitment, these students inspire all of us to shape our own Husky Experience.”

UWIN fellow Kaitlyn Casimo, one of the 2018 Husky 100Kaitlyn Casimo, UWIN graduate fellow, says: “Besides developing programs in interactive, informal science learning to make science fun for kids and adults, I’m improving the way we tell stories about science on the stage and page. When I’m not doing research on patterns of connectivity in the human brain, I’m working to bring science to new audiences in innovative and accessible ways and to teach other scientists to do the same.”

Kaitlyn was awarded a UWIN graduate fellowship in 2014 and is a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience program, where she is a member of Jeff Ojemann’s lab in Neurological Surgery.  She studies the electrophysiology of human resting state and task based brain connectivity, working with patients undergoing epilepsy surgery. She is especially interested in changes in connectivity related to brain-computer interface use and learning. Kaitlyn received a bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Pomona College, where she studied physiological responses to stress. She is a joint fellow of UWIN and the UW Computational Neuroscience Training Grant.  Kaitlyn  was named to the 2016 class of AAAS Emerging Leaders in Science & Society.

UWIN fellow Karley Benoff, one of the 2018 Husky 100Karley Benoff, UWIN undergraduate fellow, shares: “Throughout my Husky Experience, I have sought opportunities to empower people with all levels of mobility. This includes researching to develop and evaluate assistive devices, working in teams to tackle unmet clinical needs and helping establish HuskyADAPT, a student organization dedicated to improving and advocating for accessibility. As a 2018 graduate, I aspire to use my technical background and leadership experience to help advance healthcare technology.”

Karley was awarded a UWIN undergraduate fellowship in 2017 and is a Mechanical Engineering major working with Kat Steele in the ME Ability & Innovation Lab. Karley’s research focuses on designing and optimizing body-powered orthoses for individuals with neuromuscular deficits of the arm. She will test her device with participants using electromyography (EMG) signals to evaluate motor learning and user adaptation. Karley’s goal is have the final orthosis design be open source.

Kaitlyn and Karley join former UWIN undergraduate fellow Camille Birch, who was named one of 2017’s Husky 100.

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:

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.
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