• ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    Fascinating! #Sapiens + #HomoDeus author #YuvalNoahHarari predicts humankind’s future: https://t.co/5P25xtpyRQ via… https://t.co/TIAzFchgfI
    37 min 42 sec ago
  • ArtsandLectures twitter avatar
    RT @AshleyyySb: Only on Twitter to continue to absorb all insight and research from @DrSidMukherjee || Stoked to attend his lecture @Artsan
    53 min 16 sec ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Does location affect how pines react to climate change? Bren PhD student Ian McCullough shares answer #BrenPhDTalks https://t.co/6zVyQetm2t
    58 min 27 sec ago
  • UCSBgauchos twitter avatar
    Softball: Fifth-Inning Dooms Gauchos in 6-4 Loss to Purdue https://t.co/XWYKVl9UPx
    59 min 54 sec ago
  • UCSB_GradPost twitter avatar
    Register for 2017 Graduate Division Commencement before May 5! https://t.co/IDP1WGLGik #UCSB #ucsbgradpost
    1 hour 6 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Bren PhD student Jessica Perkins' research answers: "What Makes an #LCA Study Influential?" https://t.co/HatfwVTKV4 #BrenPhDTalks
    1 hour 7 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Runsheng Song shares strategies to estimate chemicals' life cycle inventories with little data #BrenPhDTalks https://t.co/gUsRney8nC #LCI
    1 hour 18 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    #BrenPhDTalks: Bren PhD student Ying Wang looks at nanomaterial accumulation in soybeans & nitrogen-fixing bacteria https://t.co/85xiy6EmAY
    1 hour 28 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Bren PhD student Yuwei Qin uses US potato production to show how to model marginal production in #LCA https://t.co/jDyW0Fkzbx #BrenPhDTalks
    1 hour 38 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Bren PhD student Chris Heckman's research shows how soil water storage eases #climate change effects https://t.co/cflpEuiAmV #BrenPhDTalks
    1 hour 48 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Bren PhD student Niklas Griessbaum proposes ways to improve data citation with big data https://t.co/74ETLON0N2 #BrenPhDTalks
    1 hour 58 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Bren PhD student Mengya Tao models the release of #chemicals in consumer products w limited data https://t.co/FO73hy4Zjn #BrenPhDTalks
    2 hours 7 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Bren PhD student Caroline Vignardi on how pesticides w/copper-based nanoparticles affect aquatic life #BrenPhDTalks https://t.co/ys5p48wexI
    2 hours 28 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Most fish stocks are either fully or overexploited: Bren PhD student Julie Lawson proposes solutions #BrenPhDTalks https://t.co/ycgxS8HCde
    2 hours 33 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Bren PhD student Elizabeth Hiroyasu shares effect of message framing on invasive species policy & mgmt https://t.co/c2Yvj4s38Q #BrenPhDTalks
    2 hours 48 min ago

BRAIN Symposium Showcases Breadth of Research at UC Santa Barbara

Eight distinctly different departments from chemical engineering to psychological and brain science were represented
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 17:00
Santa Barbara, CA

BRAIN Symposium.jpg

BRAIN Initiative Symposium

Ambuj Singh, professor of computer science, speaks to researchers at the BRAIN Initiative Symposium.

Photo Credit: 

George Foulsham

Megan Valentine.jpg

Megan Valentine

Megan Valentine, professor of mechanical engineering, talks about her molecular and cellular biomechanics research.

Photo Credit: 

George Foulsham

Ken Kosik.jpg

Kenneth Kosik

Kenneth Kosik, Harriman Professor in Neuroscience, talks about the new gene sequencer being used in his lab.

Photo Credit: 

George Foulsham

It was standing room only at UC Santa Barbara's Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative Symposium. Students, postdoctoral scholars, and professors crowded into the room to hear 20 UCSB researchers give brief synopses of their work and explain how it relates to President Obama's BRAIN Initiative.

Ambitious in scope, the BRAIN Initiative aims to give "scientists the tools they need to get a dynamic picture of the brain and better understand how we think and how we learn and how we remember," said President Obama in his April 2 announcement of this bold new research endeavor. To that end, approximately $100 million has been earmarked for the initiative in the White House's Fiscal Year 2014 Budget to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure, and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and traumatic brain injury (TBI).

The daylong UCSB symposium included a broad spectrum of research activity on campus. Eight distinctly different departments — chemical engineering; chemistry and biochemistry; computer science; communications; mechanical engineering; molecular, cellular, and developmental biology; physics; and psychological and brain science — were represented.

Craig Montell, Duggan Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) and Neuroscience, who uses fruit fly models, said, "Animal behavior is predictable. If you know the genetic makeup of an animal and you know the sensory input — at least on a population basis — you should be able to predict behavior. What we're really interested in is understanding the molecules, the cells, and the circuits that underlie the behavior."

Ambuj Singh, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Biomolecular Science and Engineering, emphasized the important role of network science, a new and emerging scientific discipline that examines the interconnections among networks types: physical or engineered, information, biological, cognitive and semantic, and social. "We're looking for small pieces of logic that can explain networking," said Singh, who has only recently turned the focus of his study to the detection of network biomarkers.

"Over the course of the time I've been here at UCSB, we've collaborated with lots and lots of people on campus and most of them have been outside of biology," said Stu Feinstein, MCDB professor and co-director of the Neuroscience Research Institute (NRI). "And that's because bringing together the sophisticated tools that chemists and engineers and computer scientists have really helps you go places with biological life science questions that you can't do with standard molecular biology." Feinstein's research on tau protein relates to both Alzheimer's disease and TBI.

Jean Carlson, a professor in the Department of Physics, heads the Complex Systems Group at UCSB. Part of her work revolves around multi-scale processes in decision-making. "We want to connect all that we're learning about the brain to behavior," she said in her presentation. Her group also conducts dynamic graph analyses of how the brain changes in activity, and collaborates with Scott Grafton's Action Lab in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences to reveal precursors of learning.

Carlson and Grafton's joint work is just one example of the myriad collaborative efforts already taking place on campus. Kenneth S. Kosick, MCDB Harriman Professor of Neuroscience and co-director of the NRI, said that UCSB "fosters an atmosphere that is conducive to collaboration. Yes, this is about the BRAIN Initiative, but it's also about what everyone can do together and what we can do campuswide to make neuroscience really strong."

"I think that the level of enthusiasm and the quality of work that is already being done on campus is extraordinary," said Meredith Murr, director of research development in UCSB's Office of Research. "The possibilities for new research coming out of this event are endless.

"It was standing room only and I think that really shows how enthusiastic the faculty is about the brain and about collaborating with campus colleagues," she added. "We don't need to go to another university with a medical school, for example, to do brain research."

UCSB Office of Research

Contact Info: 

Julie Cohen


(805) 893-7220