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
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
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.