Steve Brunton, NIFTI PI, wins 2018 UW College of Engineering Award

Steve Brunton, winner of the 2018 UW College of Engineering Award for Junior Faculty.We are excited to announce that NIFTI faculty member Steve Brunton has won the 2018 UW College of Engineering Award for Junior Faculty!  The UW College of Engineering Awards “acknowledge the extraordinary efforts of the college’s teaching and research assistants, staff and faculty members.” Congratulations, Steve!

In 2017, Steve Brunton won the UW College of Engineering’s Faculty Award for Teaching.  He also recently won an AFOSR Young Investigator Award.

NIFTI’s AFRL partners win AFOSR Star Team Award

NIFTI would like to congratulate Ric Wehling’s Bio-Principic Research team, our Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) partners, for being named a Star Team by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR)!

The AFOSR Star Team Award recognizes AFRL researchers who have “demonstrated world class scientific or engineering achievement that is cutting edge, and ‘the best of the best’”.  The award’s goals are to “reward scientific achievement, foster excellence through the AFRL research community, showcase Air Force research, and promote the important role of intramural basic research within the Air Force’s overall science and technology investment”.

Wehling’s team is being recognized for their research under the Laboratory Task entitled “Natural System-Inspired Sensors for Agile Flight and Sensory Ecology and Information Exploitation”.  The team members receiving this prestigious honor include Dr. Jennifer Talley, Dr. Nick Rummelt, Dr. Kaitlin Fair, Dr. Tony Thompson, Dr. Ben Dickinson, Dr. Brian Taylor, Dr. Kevin Brink, Dr. Doug Nance, Dr. Dennis Goldstein (emeritus), and Mr. Johnny Evers (emeritus).


NIFTI PIs Bing Brunton and Steve Brunton win AFOSR Young Investigator Awards

AFOSR Young Investigator award winners Bing Brunton and Steve BruntonWe are extremely proud to announce that two NIFTI PIs from the University of Washington, Bing Brunton (UW Biology) and Steve Brunton (UW Mechanical Engineering) have each won an AFOSR Young Investigator Research Program Award! The Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Program recognizes those “who show exceptional ability and promise for conducting basic research”, and who have received Ph.D. or equivalent degrees in the last five years.

Bing’s awarded proposal was on “Sparse Sensing with Wing Mechanosensory Neurons for Estimation of Body Rotation in Flying Insects”. Steve’s winning proposal was on “Interpretable Nonlinear Models of Unsteady Flow Physics”. AFOSR Young Investigator Awards provide a 3-year grant totaling $450,000.

In addition to these prestigious awards from AFOSR, Bing was recently awarded a UW Innovation Award, and Steve won the 2017 UW College of Engineering’s Faculty Award for Teaching.

You can read more about the AFOSR Young Investigator awards on the AFOSR website. Bing’s award from AFOSR was also highlighted on the UW Biology website.

University of Washington Innovation Award won by two NIFTI PIs!

We are exceedingly proud to announce that two NIFTI faculty are recipients of a 2017 University of Washington Innovation Award!  The UW Innovation Awards “fuel the ideas that address problems of humanity while encouraging and celebrating creativity among faculty”.  The purpose of the awards is to “stimulate innovation among faculty from a range of disciplines and to reward some of their most terrific ideas.”

This year, four awards were given across the entire University of Washington, and two of the four awards went to projects involving NIFTI PIs!  Since the award’s inception in 2014, 13 faculty projects have received Innovation Awards totaling $3 million.  The NIFTI award winners this year were: Bing Brunton (as part of a team with non-NIFTI faculty David Gire) and Jeff Riffell.  Each of their awarded projects is described below.

ModuBing Brunton and David Gire, , winners of a 2017 University of Washington Innovation Awardlating complex natural behaviors in rodents with direct closed-loop control of neural systems

Bing Brunton, NIFTI PI, Assistant Professor, UW Biology
David Gire, Assistant Professor, UW Psychology

This project will characterize how networks of neurons in different brain areas interact while an animal solves a complex task.  To do this, Drs. Brunton and Gire will combine large-scale, high-density neural recordings with data-driven modeling.  Their goal is to understand the dynamic neural computations that support natural behaviors. This will also provide them the unique opportunity to directly manipulate brain activity and influence natural behavior.  They will be developing a closed-loop electronic system in collaboration with the non-profit Open Ephys.

They state: “The hardware and software platforms developed as part of this project will be shared as open-source resources for the wider neuroengineering community. This cutting-edge effort will illuminate our understanding of how coordinated brain activity supports ecologically important behaviors, as well as contribute a network-theoretic perspective of brain function and dysfunctions that manifest as neurological and mental disorders…This demonstration is an essential step towards implementing targeted bioelectronics therapies for a variety of major neurological and psychiatric disorders”.  Their project addresses these questions by leveraging the experimental neuroscience expertise of the Gire lab and novel computational approaches from the Brunton lab.

Jeff Riffell, winner of a 2017 University of Washington Innovation AwardGenerating mutant mosquitoes to identify the genetic and neural bases of human host-seeking behavior

Jeff Riffell, NIFTI Associate Professor, UW Biology

Mosquitos can carry a number of serious human diseases, including malaria, yellow fever, Zika, and West Nile virus.  Mosquitos locate hosts using their sensitive olfactory system, and many vary in their preference for individual humans or other hosts.  Prior experience with a host affects future host choices, and many mosquitos can change their host preference if necessary.  However, there is no information about the neural and genetic bases of these behaviors.

In this project, Dr. Riffell’s work with mosquitos will use “cutting-edge genetic manipulations and new neurophysiological recording methods to identify the genetic and olfactory bases of host preferences in mosquitos”.  Additionally, Dr. Riffell will investigate how learning modifies mosquito behavior in regards to host choice.  Ultimately, one goal of this work is to determine if there are possible genetic targets for mosquito control.

Sam Burden, NIFTI PI, receives ARO Young Investigator Award

Sam Burden, a NIFTI investigator at the University of Washington, recently received a Young Investigator Program Award from the Army Research Office (ARO)!  The ARO Young Investigator Award is “one of the most prestigious awards the army grants to early career researchers and scientists”.  More information can be found at: