Caleb Kemere, Assistant Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, is a recipient of a Human Frontier Science Program (HFSP) Award. He is a member of one of 10 Young Investigator teams to receive the award this year. Each team member will be awarded an average of $100,000-$125,000 per year for three years.
HFSP is an international program of research support, funding frontier research on the complex mechanisms of living organisms. HFSP collaborative research grants are given for a broad range of projects under the umbrella theme “Complex mechanisms of living organisms.” Young Investigator Grants are awarded to teams of scientists who are all within five years of obtaining their first independent position.
Kemere’s team is comprised of an experimental neurobiologist (Matt Van Der Meer of the University of Waterloo, Canada), a computational roboticist (Giovanni Pezzulo of the National Research Council of Italy) and Kemere as the neuroengineer. Their work, titled, “Beyond Simple Choices: Computational and Neuronal Mechanisms for Complex Spatial Behavious,” will attempt to understand the mechanisms that the brain uses to plan solutions for complicated problems.
Kemere stated, “Matt and I have both been working on experiments where we investigate particular patterns of neural activity in the hippocampus – the brain’s primary memory center. In particular, Matt discovered how particular patterns that have been associated with retrospection (recapitulating previous experience) also appear to be connected with prospection (planning future experience).”
Kemere’s laboratory has been working on developing real-time signal processing techniques for selectively perturbing these patterns of activity in order to study how the rest of the brain might be making use of them.
Pezzulo has been working on models for multistage planning in robotics and was interested in how these sorts of algorithms might be implemented in organisms.
Research grants are provided for teams of scientists from different countries who wish to combine their expertise in innovative approaches to questions that could not be answered by individual laboratories. Emphasis is placed on novel collaborations that bring together scientists from different disciplines to focus on problems in the life sciences.
“It’s a great team with three young investigators who are similar but also have very different strengths, and I expect the results of our work will be very exciting,” Kemere added.