From Santa Fe Institute Events Wiki
I am an MD/PhD student (starting in August) at the University of California, San Diego. I intend to to my PhD in Computational Neuroscience, and I'm particularly interested in using genetic algorithms to explore the space of cellular and network architectures that give rise to interesting neural phenomena. After a year-and-a-half doing experimental work in a forward genetics lab, I have a deep appreciation for methodologies that use the power of evolution to ask questions in an unbiased way, and I think that genetic algorithms are underutilized in theoretical neuroscience.
I noticed that some of the other participants mentioned travelling and basketball, two of my favorite things. I'm currently travelling in Laos, missing basketball, and looking forward to meeting everyone in Beijing. Also, I want to learn Chinese.
Here are my answers to the five questions:
1. I did my Bachelor's degree in Molecular and Cell Biology (emphasis in Neurobiology) at the University of California, Berkeley, and I worked for the last year and a half in a lab studying the genetic basis of alcohol response in the nematode C. elegans. I feel competent talking about molecular neurobiology, forward genetics, and, in a very general way, computational neuroscience. My expertise is limited, but I would be happy to share it.
2. The list of things that I hope to learn about this summer is pretty long: genetic algorithms, information theory, neural network models, nonlinear dynamic systems, and complexity. In addition to learning about complex systems, I also see this summer school as an opportunity to expand my mathematical and computational background.
3. See answer #4.
4. I am really interested in working on a project that tries to develop an evolvable network of model neurons that is optimized for some specific, real-world task and also for scalability, etc. But I'm not really tied to any particular problem, and I look forward to working with other neuroscientists, biologists, computer scientists, and mathematicians in the group.
5. What is your mechanistic explanation for the attentional spotlight that lets us control which pieces of information we are consciously aware of? How does the brain bind different sensory modalities and internal states into one seamless picture of the outside world? How did people answer these questions?