"Neuroengineering, as an emerging discipline, is very interdisciplinary," Aazhang said. "Students need to learn about the physiology of the brain, the human nervous system, computational, theoretical and experimental neuroscience, and engineering tools to be able to get started in doing research in this arena.
"As a graduate student, you need to become expert very quickly in several different areas that, a few years ago, were far removed from each other," he said.
Many Rice labs are working on these very technologies, including Raphael's studies of biological membranes and hearing loss, Aazhang's work on real-time brain stimulation, O'Malley's work on robotic exoskeletons that respond to wireless commands from the brain and Kemere's investigation of interfaces with memory and other cognitive processes.
Raphael cited several Rice faculty who are not co-investigators but made pivotal contributions to the NSF bid, including bioengineer Amina Qutub, who takes a systems biology approach to cellular signaling in the neurovasculature, and electrical and computer engineer Jacob Robinson, who develops methods for recording from neurons using nanoscale technology.
"We have this nice convergence," Raphael said. "I've been arguing since 2003 for a strategic plan to build neuroengineering at Rice. A few years ago, ECE made a decision to move forward in this area. Bioengineering has been building strength in systems biology and the new chair of neuroscience at Baylor (Angelaki) was trained as a biomedical engineer. All these things created the fertile environment that is now coming t
|Contact: David Ruth|