Category: Postdocs (Page 1 of 2)

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.

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.

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 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 for more information.

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, featured in the research of UWIN postdoctoral fellow Eatai RothUWIN 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

UWIN postdoctoral fellowship leads to successful collaborative grant award

UWIN faculty Emily Fox and Adrian KC Lee have been awarded an NSF Collaborative Research in Computational Neuroscience (CRCNS) grant, inspired by work supported by a joint UWIN-eScience postdoctoral fellowship. The grant, “Modeling of Interacting Time Series to Discover Cortical Networks Associated with Auditory Processing Dysfunction”, grew out of the research of UWIN postdoctoral fellow Dr. Nick Foti, who is jointly mentored by Professors Fox and Lee.

The funded project aims to better understand connectivity in the brain as it relates to disorders of auditory attention. Many cognitive disorders, such as (central) auditory processing disorder (C)APD, are thought to arise due to abnormalities in the underlying communication network in the brain. Inferring these communication networks from non-invasive neuroimaging data in both healthy and clinical populations will further the understanding of how the brain is wired to perform tasks that are seemingly mundane but are still challenging for state-of-the-art computers, e.g., separating one voice out of a crowd. Furthermore, these discoveries can lead to the development of therapies and assistive devices for individuals affected by these disorders. The goal of this funded project is to develop statistical methodology and machine learning methods that capture both time- and frequency-varying functional connections in the brain underlying auditory attention. Additionally, they will collect a comprehensive data set from a clinical population of individuals with (C)APD consisting of electro- and mageneto-encephalography, as well as behavioral measures with which to study the functional networks underlying (C)APD.

More information about the funded research can be found at the NSF website.

Perfect Pitch Contest and Poster Session

UWIN postdoctoral and graduate fellows recently took part in the first ever Washington Research Foundation Innovation Fellows Perfect Pitch Contest and Poster Session!  Fellows had 90 seconds and one slide to explain their research question, the solution they are developing, and the potential impact.  Pitches were judged by a panel of research and industry representatives.

The first place prize for UWIN went to postdoctoral fellow Gabrielle Gutierrez for her pitch on “The adaptable computer in your eye”, and the second place prize for UWIN went to graduate fellow Gaurav Mukherjee for his pitch on “Opening the hand: Restoring hand function after neurological injury”.

Additionally, UWIN’s graduate fellow Yoni Browning won the second place prize for best poster across all four WRF-funded institutes, for his poster on “Spatial representations in the monkey hippocampus”.

Congratulations to UWIN’s winners and all of the participants!


UWIN faculty members and fellow on team awarded $1M bioelectronics innovation challenge prize

UWIN faculty members Chet MoritzJosh SmithGreg HorwitzBing Brunton and UWIN postdoctoral fellow Tom Richner are part of a team that was recently awarded a $1 million prize as part of reaching the finals in the GlaxoSmithKline Bioelectronics Innovation Challenge.  For this challenge, the team is developing “an implantable device that could help restore bladder function for people with spinal cord injuries or millions of others who suffer from incontinence.”  Their work is based out of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering, with international collaborators at the University of Cambridge and University College of London.

Read the full article, “UW-led team awarded $1M bioelectronics innovation prize”, at UW Today.

2016 UWIN Postdoctoral Fellowships awarded

UWIN is pleased to announce that two exceptional researchers have been awarded 2016 Washington Research Foundation Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Neuroengineering: Michael Beyeler and Gabrielle Gutierrez.  Biographies of the new fellows are below:

Michael Beyeler, recipient of one of the 2016 UWIN Postdoctoral Fellowships Michael Beyeler works in collaboration with Ione Fine in Psychology and Ariel Rokem at the eScience Institute. His research focuses on improving stimulation algorithms for retinal prostheses. In patients with retinal diseases such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa, retinal prostheses are being developed to directly stimulate remaining healthy cells in the retina. However, translating visual input into electrical pulses that elicit desired visual perception is nontrivial and requires a deep understanding of the sensory processing in the human retina. Michael aims to further our understanding of how these devices interact with the underlying retinal circuitry by leveraging both computational and data-driven approaches, in order to develop the algorithms and tools that can power novel sight restoration technologies. Michael received a doctoral degree in Computer Science from the University of California, Irvine as well as a Master’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from ETH Zurich, Switzerland.
Gabrielle Gutierrez, recipient of one of the 2016 UWIN Postdoctoral Fellowships Gabrielle Gutierrez works in collaboration with Eric Shea-Brown in Applied Mathematics and Fred Rieke in Physiology and Biophysics. Her research is aimed at understanding how neural circuits in the retina implement functional computations using the rich assortment of available biophysical mechanisms. Using a combination of experimental electrophysiology techniques, normative theories, and computational modeling, Gabrielle seeks to understand how local neuron properties contribute to global circuit function. Her work will provide insight into the multiple solutions that allow neural circuits to adapt to the immensely complex stimuli encountered in nature. Gabrielle holds a doctoral degree in Neuroscience from Brandeis University. She received her bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, Columbia University, where she majored in Physics and minored in Applied Math. Gabrielle was awarded an IGERT training fellowship at Brandeis.

Applications open for 2015 graduate fellowships and 2016 postdoctoral fellowships

Applications are open for the 2015 WRF Innovation Graduate Fellowships in Neuroengineering and the 2016 WRF Innovation Postdoctoral Fellowships in Neuroengineering.  The graduate fellowship application deadline is August 7, 2015, with funding starting in September 2015. The postdoctoral fellowship application deadline is January 15, 2016. Further information about these fellowships can be found in the links below:

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