Category: news (page 2 of 8)

Applications open for 2017 UWIN undergraduate and post-baccalaureate fellowships

Applications are now open for the 2017 WRF Innovation Undergraduate and Post-baccalaureate Fellowships in Neuroengineering.   Applications are due by Friday, March 10, 2017.  These fellowships provide up to $6000 to support undergraduate and post-baccalaureate researchers committed to working in UWIN faculty labs.  More information about these fellowships can be found in the links below:

Highlights from the 2017 Neural Computation and Engineering Connection

The 2017 Neural Computation and Engineering Connection took place on January 19-20, 2017, and UWIN postdoctoral fellow Michael Beyeler wrote up an excellently thorough summary of all of the talks given.  Read about it at:

UWIN faculty member Emily Fox awarded 2017 Presidential Early Career Award

UWIN faculty member Emily Fox has been awarded a 2017 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. This is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to scientists and engineers in the early stages of their independent research careers.  Dr. Fox was nominated for this award by the National Science Foundation for her “groundbreaking work in large-scale Bayesian modeling and computational approaches to time series and longitudinal data analysis, and for outstanding outreach and mentoring of women in computer science and statistics.”

Read more at:

Register for the 2017 Neural Computation and Engineering Connection

The 2017 Neural Computation and Engineering Connection will be held on the afternoon of Thursday, January 19 and all day Friday, January 20.  This event brings together the UW neuroengineering and computational neuroscience communities, and also brings in a number of exciting invited plenary speakers, including Marcia O’Malley (Rice), Maria Geffen (University of Pennsylvania), and Michael Berry (Princeton).  Local speakers include Ariel Rokem (UW eScience), Daniela Witten (UW Statistics & Biostatistics), Steve Brunton (UW Mechanical Engineering), Jason Yeatman (UW Speech and Hearing Sciences), and Saskia de Vries (Allen Institute for Brain Science).

Registration is free but required.  Please register at:  Registration closes on Monday, January 9th.

Thursday’s events will be at the CSNE (Russell Hall Suite 204, 1414 NE 42nd St.), and Friday’s events will be at the Husky Union Building (HUB) room 250, with an evening reception in HUB 145.

A full schedule will be available closer to the event at:

Please note: John Krakauer was originally scheduled as part of the program but is no longer able to attend.

December UWIN seminar: Matt Smear, University of Oregon

picture-1856UWIN’s December seminar features a talk by visiting speaker Matt Smear from the University of Oregon’s Department of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience.

His talk is entitled: “Concentration change detectors in the olfactory bulb”

The seminar is on Wednesday, December 14th, at 3:30pm in Health Sciences Building G-328.  Refreshments will be served prior to the talk across the hall in room G-317.  Click here for a map of the Health Sciences Building.

Abstract: Brains operate in dynamic environments. Sensory systems prioritize stimulus changes, as evidenced by the many neuronal mechanisms devoted to comparing sensory inputs across time. My lab has been studying an ethologically relevant form of delayed comparison: detection of odor concentration changes across sequential sniffs (hereafter called ΔCt). Rodents use ΔCt as a guidance cue during olfactory navigation, a behavior that is crucial to their livelihood. To study ΔCt processing, we have developed an odor stimulation system which can change odor concentration with unprecedented speed. Combining this system with electrophysiological recordings in awake head-fixed mice, we have discovered that a subset of neurons in the olfactory bulb are ΔCt sensitive – they strongly modulate their firing rate when odor concentration changes. By studying this system, we hope to uncover fundamental principles underlying our ability to follow along as the external world changes.

Applications open for 2017 postdoctoral fellowships

Applications are open for the 2017 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, 2017. Please see for more information.


PNAS paper on sensory integration from UWIN postdoctoral fellow Eatai Roth

hawkmoth-003UWIN postdoctoral fellow Eatai Roth, working in the lab of UWIN Co-director Tom Daniel, recently published a paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on how multiple types of sensory information are used by hawkmoths to govern flight behavior.  The paper, entitled “Integration of parallel mechanosensory and visual pathways resolved through sensory conflict”, describes work that investigated how moths combine sensory cues to follow the motion of wavering flowers while feeding.

While hovering in front of a flower, a feeding moth receives information about how the flower is moving from two sensory modalities: visual information from the eye and mechanosensory information from the proboscis in contact with the flower.  By building a two-part artificial flower that allows for independent manipulation of visual and mechanosensory cues, Roth et al. disentangled the contribution of each sensory modality to the moth’s flower-following behavior.  They found that the brain linearly sums information from the visual and mechanosensory domains to maintain this behavior. They further demonstrated that either sensory modality alone would be sufficient for this behavior, and this redundancy makes the behavior robust to changes in the availability of sensory information.

This work provides a better understanding of how multiple sensory modalities are used in nature to govern complex behaviors, and connects with the mission of the Air Force Center of Excellence on Nature-Inspired Flight Technologies and Ideas (NIFTI).

This research was also featured in a UW Today article, “Tricking moths into revealing the computational underpinnings of sensory integration”.

Photo credit: Rob Felt, Georgia Tech

November UWIN seminar: Short talks by Ione Fine and Josh Smith

SmithJoshuaFineIoneUWIN’s November seminar features a pair of short talks by Ione Fine and Josh Smith:

  • “From pulse to percept: Modeling the perceptual experience of bionic vision”: Ione Fine, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Washington
  • “Battery-free wireless cameras: A platform for neurally inspired information processing research?”: Josh Smith, Associate Professor, Departments of Computer Science & Engineering and Electrical Engineering, University of Washington

The seminar is on Wednesday, November 9th, at 3:30pm in Health Sciences Building K-069.  Click here for a map of the Health Sciences Building.  The K-wing is west of the Rotunda Cafe (I-Court).



“From pulse to percept: modeling the perceptual experience of bionic vision” (Ione Fine):

The field of bionic vision is making rapid progress; with three electronic implants approved for patients, and several others in development. However it is still very unclear what patients implanted with retinal prosthetics actually ‘see’. Here we present a full simulation of perceptual experience produced by the Second Sight Medical products epiretinal prosthesis, thereby creating a ‘virtual patient’. We show that the performance of this virtual patient is closely matched to data from real patients. Simulations such as these are likely to be critical for providing realistic estimates of prosthetic vision, providing regulatory bodies with guidance into what sort of visual tests are appropriate for evaluating prosthetic performance, and improving current and future technology.


“Battery-free wireless cameras: A platform for neurally inspired information processing research?” (Josh Smith):

I will present our lab’s most recent work on battery-free wireless cameras, which can perform simple image processing operations using local computation and which communicate using backscatter, a very low power wireless technique.  Visual processing can also be studied in biological systems.  Neural information processing is in general more energy efficient than conventional micro-electronic information processing.  Using this platform, we can potentially make task-level comparisons of the energy efficiency of neural and microelectronic visual information processing.  Taking inspiration from biology, can we find more energy efficient architectures for micro-electronic information processing?

Collaborative ‘Laboratory for Amplifying Motion and Performance’ established by UWIN faculty

 Rombokas_Eric SmallMortizChetBurdenSamTSteeleKathe UW College of Engineering and School of Medicine have jointly established a shared Laboratory for Amplifying Motion and Performance (AMP Lab) directed by Kat Steele (Mechanical Engineering/UWIN), Sam Burden (Electrical Engineering/UWIN), and Val Kelly (Rehabilitation Medicine). This state-of-the-art collaboratory will enable experiments with clinical and research populations interacting with autonomous and semi-autonomous machines.  Together with Chet Moritz (Rehabilitation Medicine/UWIN) and Eric Rombokas (Mechanical Engineering/ VA/UWIN), this team also received a Strategic Research Initiative award from the College of Engineering to fund an AMP Center that will mentor interdisciplinary working groups and organize workshops in the Lab.

These joint ventures envision a future where:

  • Neurophysiological trauma and disease are diagnosed automatically (and, when possible, preemptively);
  • Monitoring and intervention are conducted continuously within and outside the clinic;
  • Personalized assistive devices ranging from exoskeletons to co-robots mitigate disability and enhance ability of all individuals.

For more information, visit the AMP Lab website at:

October UWIN seminar: Short talks by Bing Brunton and David Gire

GireDavidWBruntonBingith the start of the school year comes the resumption of UWIN’s seminar series!  The first seminar of the year is an exciting pair of short talks by UWIN faculty Bing Brunton and David Gire:

  • “Neural inspired sparse sensors”: Bing Brunton, Washington Research Foundation Innovation Assistant Professor in Neuroengineering, Department of Biology, University of Washington
  • “Navigation across spatial scales”: David Gire, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Washington

The seminar is on Wednesday, October 12th, at 3:30pm in Health Sciences Building K-069.  Click here for a map of the Health Sciences Building.  The K-wing is west of the Rotunda Cafe (I-Court).



“Neural inspired sparse sensors” (Bing Brunton):

Biological organisms are remarkably adept at interacting with high-dimensional physical systems in nature, yet they sometimes rely on information gathered through only a handful of sensory organs. This strikingly efficient sensory-motor performance is possible in part because natural signals are inherently compressible, having relatively low-dimensional features underlying high-dimensional dynamics. Our approach to understanding this sensory-motor transformation combines insights from compressed sensing, techniques from dimensionality reduction, and feature extraction inspired by neurophysiological recordings.

“Navigation across spatial scales”
(David Gire):

Optimally integrating real-time data from noisy sensors with probabilistic knowledge of the current state of the environment is one of the great challenges in the development of autonomous robotic systems.  Fortunately, this problem also represents a major source of selective pressure across numerous animal species, resulting in brains that have evolved to efficiently utilize noisy sensory cues to navigate dynamic environments.  To test how animal brains address these challenges under naturalistic conditions we have developed a fully-automated open field arena that gives us precise control over both stimulus delivery and the entire history of an animal’s interaction with its environment.  I will discuss results from a first set of experiments that used this system to investigate how memory influences odor-guided searches for food in turbulent flow.

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