• ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Reminder: updates about the impacts of the #ThomasFire on campus operations are posted on The #UCSB Current: https://t.co/Hmm6PkVoi3
    8 hours 32 min ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    #UCSB Library will be closing tonight at midnight. We will reopen tomorrow at 8AM. Recess hours will be in effect M… https://t.co/fom6hAvC09
    12 hours 49 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    ICYMI: #UCSB fall quarter final exams have been rescheduled for the week of January 8th. For answers to FAQs relate… https://t.co/v0dklvXDS0
    13 hours 24 min ago
  • UCSB_GradPost twitter avatar
    Resources and updates for Thomas Fire https://t.co/YDATGJf7rb #UCSB #ucsbgradpost
    14 hours 56 min ago
  • UCSBengineering twitter avatar
    RT @ucsantabarbara: Final exams scheduled for the coming week will be rescheduled for the week of January 8. #UCSB students who wish to lea…
    15 hours 12 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Updates from Chancellor Yang's latest memo (4 of 4). The campus will remain open. Student housing, including reside… https://t.co/IkKUjg1Png
    16 hours 10 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Updates from Chancellor Yang's latest memo (3 of 4). The revised final exam schedule will be posted on the Office o… https://t.co/K1gbw5KUXZ
    16 hours 11 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Updates from Chancellor Yang's latest memo (2 of 4). Fall quarter has been extended. Winter quarter will now begin… https://t.co/88DzDNIcBv
    16 hours 13 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Updates from Chancellor Yang's latest memo (1 of 4). Final exams scheduled for the coming week will be rescheduled… https://t.co/Yh3W3Jcmjo
    16 hours 14 min ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    The Library remains open for students that need a place to gather and/or begin making alternative plans for the now… https://t.co/S0TalpXviJ
    16 hours 32 min ago
  • ucsantabarbara twitter avatar
    Final exams scheduled for the coming week will be rescheduled for the week of January 8. #UCSB students who wish to… https://t.co/goWRKavefr
    16 hours 35 min ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    RT @UCSBHousing: Message from #UCSB Chancellor Yang re: #ThomasFire https://t.co/cffzAyhOaV
    16 hours 42 min ago
  • brenucsb twitter avatar
    Cape Code fishermen bring sustainably harvested, 'under-loved' #fish to New England Diners https://t.co/ZcHLoUKMHP https://t.co/vqGUmOqu7X
    17 hours 53 min ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    RT @UCSBETS: All #UCSB campus networking has been working properly for at least 30 minutes, and the vast majority has been working for an h…
    19 hours 42 min ago
  • UCSBLibrary twitter avatar
    The #UCSB Library remains open. With ongoing power outages all elevators, with the exception of the elevator near t… https://t.co/JKKgCPw4BY
    19 hours 48 min ago

Former UCSB Postdoc Awarded a MacArthur Fellowship

Danielle Bassett will use the grant money to continue her research on dynamic networks in the brain
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 11:30
Santa Barbara, CA

Former UC Santa Barbara postdoctoral research associate and Sage Junior Research Fellow Danielle Bassett has been awarded a 2014 MacArthur Fellowship, sometimes referred to as a "genius grant." Now the Skirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation in the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania, Bassett will receive a five-year, $625,000 grant, which can be used for research or creative pursuits without specific obligations or reporting requirements.

From 2009 to 2011, Bassett worked in UCSB’s Department of Physics with Jean Carlson’s Complex Systems Group exploring social, neuroscientific, genetic and granular materials systems. Studying granular systems aided Bassett’s understanding of how networks are physically embedded. “Physical embedding turns out to play a very important role in how many real complex networks are organized and how they work – including the brain,” Bassett explained.

From 2011 to 2013, Bassett was a Sage Center for the Study of the Mind Junior Research Fellow. During both postdoc and fellowship, Bassett collaborated with Scott Grafton’s Action Lab West in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She said that the work she did with Grafton really helped to focus her research on how neural communication patterns change over time, both as the brain develops and through the act of learning.  

“I realized what I really wanted to know was how brains were constantly reconfiguring while our behavior was changing,” Bassett said. “In fact, with Scott I made the discovery that people who have very flexible brain networks tend to learn better than people who have very rigid brain networks.”

Bassett says the scientific environment at UCSB gave her the freedom to pursue interdisciplinary research easily. “I found that people were extremely collaborative and friendly,” she said. “It was never difficult to strike up a new collaboration or to interact on a topic that was slightly outside of my field. There were experts all around with whom I could quickly and easily connect and make some headway. I found that really refreshing.

“My time at UCSB was really important and influential in my research career because it propelled me into the study of dynamic networks in the brain, which is something I’m still focusing on now,” she concluded. “I’m currently doing research that involves porting over intuitions about physical network structure from the granular system to understanding the brain.”

Granular materials systems consist of many particles and those particles exert force on each other in very heterogeneous ways. “So although a sand pile looks very homogeneous, it’s actually not,” Basset explained. “One of the topics I’ve been studying in collaboration with Karen Daniels at NC State is the heterogeneity in force exertion profiles between particles in granular systems. This is important because models that have not taken into account this heterogeneity are unable to really predict the behavior of the material.”

The main thrust of Bassett’s current work focuses on how the brain is connected and how that connectivity pattern is changed in disease states or as new skills are learned. “We want to understand which parts of the brain we might be able to push to enhance flexibility, to push the brain into states that enable better learning,” she said.

Contact Info: 

Julie Cohen
julie.cohen@ucsb.edu
(805) 893-7220

Topics: