Martin Flament Fultot Doctoral Dissertation Defense

IBACS Summer Fellow Martin Flament Fultot, will be giving his doctoral dissertation defense on Wednesday, July 22nd at 12:00 PM in a Virtual Conference Room.  A copy of the dissertation entitled “Tensegrity and Recurrent Neural Networks: Towards an ecological model of postural coordination” is available from the Graduate Program Office (psychgrad@uconn.edu).  

 Virtual Meeting Details:

Link: https://zoom.us/j/5610742546?pwd=a3crZURsd2pMN2M4MWFPd0hWeFNCdz09
Meeting ID: 561 074 2546

Password: 1ThVCA

OR

Join by phone: +1 302-273-8917 (PIN: 736590208)

Title of dissertation: Tensegrity and Recurrent Neural Networks: Towards an ecological model of postural coordination
Major Advisor:
James Dixon

Abstract: Tensegrity systems have been proposed as both the medium of haptic perception and the functional architecture of motor coordination in animals. However, a full working model integrating those two aspects with some form of neural implementation is still lacking.In this dissertation, a basic two-dimensional cross-tensegrity plant was designed and its mechanics simulated. The plant was coupled to a Recurrent Neural Network (RNN), because of the latter’s anticipatory properties and distributed internal dynamics. The model’s task was to maintain postural balance against gravity despite the intrinsically unstable configuration of the tensegrity plant. The RNN took only proprioceptive input about the springs’ lengths and rate of length change and output minimum lengths for each spring which reset their Hookean profiles and modulated their interaction with the plant’s inertial kinetics. An evolutionary optimization algorithm generated four artificial agents capable of coordinating the patterns of spring contractions in order to maintain dynamic equilibrium. A first study assessed quiet standing performance and revealed coordinative patterns between the tensegrity rods akinto humans’ strategy of anti-phase hip-ankle relative phase. The agents showed a mixture of periodic and aperiodic trajectories of their Center of Mass. Moreover, the agents seemed to tune to the anticipatory “time-to-balance” quantity in order to maintain their movements within a region of reversibility. A second study perturbed the system with mechanical platform shifts and sensorimotor degradation. The agents’ response to the mechanical perturbation was robust and most could maintain balance afterwards. Dimensionality analysis of the RNNs’ unit activations revealed a pattern of slight degree of freedom recruitment during the timesteps following the onset of perturbation. In the degradation sub-study, different levels of noise were added to the inputs to the RNN and different levels of weakening gain were applied to the forces generated by the springs to mimic haptic degradation and muscular weakening in elderly humans. As expected, the systems performed less well, falling earlier than without the insults. However, the same systems re-evolved again under the degraded conditions saw significant functional recovery. Overall, the dissertation supports the plausibility of RNN cum tensegrity models of haptic-guided postural coordination in humans.

Reminder: Virtual AI/Computational Modeling Meet & Speak on 5/6

Dear Research Community,
 

A reminder that The Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBACS) & the School of Engineering are co-hosting a virtual Meet & Speak which will cover new research in computational modeling, machine learning, and AI approaches applied to human cognition, brain function, speech and language, disease, and related areas. The meeting will offer an opportunity to foster greater cross-college discourse and collaboration, and may serve as a foundation for further developments in computational modeling at UConn. The Meet & Speak is scheduled for Wednesday, May 6th, 12pm-3pm on Zoom. You will be able to join the meeting by visiting this webpage. Please note that the event will be recorded and posted on the webpage shortly after. 

There will be 12 speakers, each taking up a 12-minute slot including questions (speakers have been asked to limit their talks to 8-9 minutes). 
 

Attendees will not have their audio or video enabled, but will be able to submit questions during each talk using the Q&A feature on Zoom – instructions will be provided on the website.

 

Further details (including the schedule of talks with titles and abstracts, and instructions for attending the webinar) can be found at ibacs.uconn.edu/events-may6/. 

 

Sincerely,

 
Gerry Altmann
Director, Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences 

 

Leslie Shor
Associate Dean, UConn Engineering

Virtual AI/Computational Modeling Meet & Speak on 5/6

Dear Research Community, 

Leslie Shor (Associate Dean, Engineering) and Gerry Altmann (Director, Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences) have organized aMeet & Speakthat will bring together researchers from CLAS and Engineering with an interest in computational modeling / machine learning / and AI. The aim is for the different communities across the colleges to better understand the research that we are each engaged in. The meeting will offer an opportunity to foster greater cross-college discourse and collaboration, and may serve as a foundation for greater university investment in computational modeling. The Meet & Speak is scheduled for May 6th, 12pm-3pm on Zoom. You will be able to join the meeting by visiting this webpage.

Attendees will be able to submit questions during each talk using the Q&A feature. Our hosts will select questions during/after the talk. If your question is selected, the host will temporarily turn on your microphone and call on you to ask your question directly. 

There will be 12 speakers, each taking up a 12-minute slot including questions (speakers have been asked to limit their talks to 8-9 minutes).
 These speakers are a sample of faculty with interests in computational modeling. We could not include all the faculty with such interests and our apologies if we did not include you – one purpose of this meeting is to use this as a starting point for identifying researchers at UConn who share these computational interests.

Speakers
 (and relevant research interests):


1. 
Gerry Altmann (Director, IBACS; Psychological Sciences): Language and event comprehension in Recurrent Neural Networks.

2. 
Jim Magnuson (Psychological Sciences): Bridging the gaps between automatic speech recognition and human speech recognition.

3. Whit Tabor (Psychological Sciences): Language processing within a Dynamical Systems approach to Cognition.

4. 
Jay Rueckl (Psychological Sciences): Connectionist modeling of literacy development.

5. 
Ed Large (Psychological Sciences): Oscillator models of rhythm and music perception.

6. 
Ian Stevenson (Psychology): Modeling neural dynamics and information encoding within the human brain.

7. 
Monty Escabi (Biomedical Engineering): Algorithms for modeling how neurons process complex sounds.

8. 
Sabato Santaniello (Biomedical Engineering): Biophysically-principled modeling for brain disorders and neuromodulation

9. Derek Aguiar (Computer Science & Engineering): Probabilistic machine learning models to better understand genomics and genetics data applied to complex disease.

10. 
Jinbo Bi (Associate Head, Computer Science & Engineering): Machine learning and Data mining for Bioinformatics, Medical informatics, and Drug discovery

11. 
Ranjan Srivastava (Head of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering): Mathematical models of biological systems. 

12. 
Caiwen Ding (Computer Science & Engineering): Machine Learning & Deep Neural Networks

Further details (including schedule of talks, with titles and abstracts when available) can be found at ibacs.uconn.edu/events-may6/

Best Wishes,
Crystal Mastrangelo
Institute Coordinator, IBACS

IBACS Meet & Speak POSTPONED

Dear Research Community,
 
In light of recent University and state announcements about the COVID-19/Coronavirus, we’ve decided to postpone our Meet & Speak event. We will be reaching out to all speakers to try and find a date in the Fall that will work for our internal speakers as well as our external speaker. We apologize to our speakers and attendees for any inconvenience this may cause. Thank you, and please reach out to us if you have any questions or concerns.
 
Best,
 
Crystal Mastrangelo
Institute Coordinator

Gerry Altmann
Institute Director
 
CT Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Phone: 860.486.4937
Office: Arjona 330
ibacs@uconn.edu

IBACS Meet & Speak Registration

Dear Research Community,

The CT Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBACS) invites you to our annual Meet and Speak” event on Saturday, March 28th. This year, we hope to showcase more of the interdisciplinary work that our affiliates do, so in addition to having our recent seed recipients to speak, we have asked some specific faculty affiliates from various disciplines to speak as well. These faculty will give up to 10-minute presentations describing, in accessible language, the research they have carried out, or propose carrying out in relation to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Graduate students affiliated with the Institute will be providing short “datablitz” style presentations about their involvement in IBACS seed-funded or fellowship-supported research. Following the graduate student blitz, there will be a panel discussion to commemorate our 5-year anniversary. The panel will discuss questions such as the following: What does brain science/cognitive science mean to you? What are the challenges to progress that particularly excite you? What are the opportunities for progress? Where is brain science/cognitive science heading, or where should it head?  
 
We are excited to announce that following the panel discussion, we shall have a keynote by Dr. John Gabrieli, MIT. According to Google Scholar, he is in the top 10 most cited individuals in Cognitive Neuroscience. His talk is entitled “Environmental Influences on Human Brain Development”. More information about Dr. Gabrieli is below.
All sessions will be held in Oak Hall 101 from 9:00am until about 4:00pm. The full program is available on our website

This event will provide an opportunity to learn more about the diverse research that IBACS affiliates are engaged in, and will provide a forum for cross-disciplinary networking. Light breakfast, lunch and afternoon refreshments will be provided.
 
We hope you can join us on March 28th to celebrate our 5-year anniversary!


If you are interested in attending all or part of this event, please register by Friday, March 20th
 
About John Gabrieli:

Bio: John Gabrieli is the director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute. He is an investigator at the McGovern Institute, with faculty appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, where he holds the Grover Hermann Professorship. He also has appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is the director of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative. Prior to joining MIT in 2005, he spent 14 years at Stanford University in the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences Program. He received a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a BA in English from Yale University.
Talk title: Environmental Influences on Human Brain Development
 
Abstract: Neuroimaging provides new views on how environmental factors influence human brain development.  I will review findings about associations (1) among family socioeconomic status (SES), brain anatomy, and academic performance; (2) between early language experience and brain function and structure; and (3) between stress and brain function and how those can be altered by mindfulness training.

IBACS Call for Seed Grant Applications

The Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (CT IBACS) is pleased to announce a new call for applications to its seed grant fund. Full details (and forms for the required letter of intent) can be found on the Institute website.

 The seed fund is intended to fund activities in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (broadly construed) that are likely to lead to applications for external funding, or which otherwise contribute to the mission of the Institute. Successful applications will typically involve collaborations that require expertise across laboratories and traditional disciplinary boundaries. The Institute does not usually fund research that might normally be considered to fall within the scope of a single lab or discipline. Applications for small grants (<$10,000) can be submitted at any time; applications in excess of $10,000 should be submitted by April 1st, 2020

Please submit letters of intent as soon as possible, but at least 2 weeks prior to the seed grant application deadline (by 3/18/20), to allow time for review and feedback.

The Institute also invites applications for affiliate memberships.

IBACS Spring 2020 Undergrad Award Application Opens TODAY!

We are happy to announce the fourth year of the undergraduate research grant program that is being run by the Connecticut Institute for Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBACS).


SPRING 2020 UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH GRANT PROGRAM ANNOUNCEMENT:

 

The application period for the spring research grant program opens TODAY, Monday, February 3rd, 2020, and the deadline for applications will be 11:59 pm on Monday, February 17th, 2020.  The application process is being conducted in concert with the Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR).  It is expected that applicants will be conducting research with IBACS faculty members, focusing on any research area associated with the IBACS mission.  Faculty sponsors will need to supply a letter of recommendation. Once the applicant lists the faculty advisor of the project in the form, an email will be sent to the faculty member with directions for how to submit the letter.  Applicants must fill out the online application, and also submit via the online application, a relatively short research plan (maximum of 6,000 characters, approximately 3 pages) and a budget that explains in detail how the funds will be spent. The application link is listed below. It is recommended that the student first compose the research plan and budget using a word processing program, and then upload the final versions on to the website.

 

IBACS Spring 2020 Application: https://quest.uconn.edu/prog/ibacs_spring2020/

 

THIS PROGRAM IS NOT MEANT TO PROVIDE DIRECT FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO STUDENTS. Instead, it is meant to provide support for the research. The account will be set up with the faculty sponsor after the award is given. It is expected that there will be five awards during the Spring of 2020 of up to $1,000. The funding is meant to defray the research-related costs such as materials & supplies, minor equipment, software, animal or participant-related costs. The budget should reflect these expenditures.

 

Fall recipients cannot apply for the Spring grant, but a recipient of a Fall or Spring grant is eligible for the Summer research grant program, provided that they are still a UConn student at the time. The application period for the summer research grant program will open on Monday, February 17th, 2020, and the deadline for applications will be 11:59 pm on Friday, March 13th, 2020. 

Call for IBRAiN Applications

The Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (CT IBACS), is inviting graduate students to apply to the IBACS-BIRC Research Assistantships in Neuroimaging (IBRAiN) Program. 

 

The CT Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBACS) is offering graduate assistantships of 10 hours per week during the Fall (2020) and Spring (2021) semesters at the Brain Imaging Research Center (BIRC). During the first year, assistants will be trained in neuroimaging methods, data science, and reproducibility. Assistants will spend the remaining allocated hours at BIRC, supporting users of BIRC facilities. This could involve helping design and implement experimental procedures for fMRI, EEG, tDCS, TMS etc., recruitment and prepping of participants, data analysis, or overseeing use of equipment by others. Applicants will be expected to commit to the full duration of the assistantship (Fall & Spring). Funds may be available during Summer 2021 to enable IBRAiN students to pursue their own research at BIRC. IBRAiN students also receive an allocation of 20 hours of MRI time to be used at BIRC during the course of the fellowship.

We anticipate awarding one 10-hour assistantship starting Fall 2020, joining the existing IBRAiN students who have already completed their first year at BIRC and are starting their second year on the program.

 

The deadline for receipt of applications will be midnight on February 21, 2020

 

Priority may be given to applicants whose research will involve, or has involved, neuroimaging methods (fMRI, dEEG, tDCS, or TMS), and who will incorporate these methods into their master’s or dissertation research. Subject to funding and other constraints, these assistantships could be renewed for a further year. Please refer to the full details here

 

Students can apply both to this program and to the IBACS Graduate Fellowship program (details here).

SAVE THE DATE: 11th Annual Language Fest, May 2nd 2020

We are excited to announce and invite you to the 11th ANNUAL UNIVERSITY OF CONNECTICUT LANGUAGE FEST on Sat, May 2nd, 2020 in Oak Hall.

 

Language Fest is a University-wide research conference that brings together the full community of language researchers at UConn, including undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty, for a day of sharing results, ideas, methodologies and fostering future interdisciplinary collaborations.

 

We are excited to announce that our Keynote Speaker this year will be Dr. Alfonso Caramazza, the Daniel and Amy Starch Professor of Psychology at Harvard University.

 

In addition to the Keynote, data blitz, and poster session, we are also pleased to announce a new item to this year’s program: the Language Fest Graduate Symposium, a cohesive cluster of graduate student presentations that showcase the community’s interdisciplinary approach to the Language Sciences. If you are a graduate student or undergraduate student working on language, please start thinking about presenting a poster about your project(s) at the conference!

 

Further details about the program and submission process will follow in Jan/Feb 2020.

 

For general inquiries about Language Fest, please contact: Katherine.Vlahcevic@uconn.edu.

 

We look forward to your participation!

 

Sincerely,

 

UConn LangFest Organizing Committee

Jennifer Mozeiko

Erika Skoe

Umay Suanda

Cynthia Boo

Elizabeth Collins

Crystal Mastrangelo

Ashley Parker

Yanina Prystauka

Amanda Wadams

Noelle Wig

Kara Vlahcevic

Learning Sciences Search Candidates

Dear Colleagues,
As you may know, NEAG has a search underway right now for two faculty positions in Learning Sciences. Given this busy time of year, we thought we’d send a bit of a “save the date” notice for our remaining four candidates’ visits – please consider joining us to meet with any of these candidates!  All will provide a research presentation and will engage in a small group discussion of a problem of teaching practice – you are welcome to either or both of those.
In addition to the details below, please watch Neag News for further details about each candidate’s visit.
Tuesday, Dec. 10: Dr. Anthony Perez
Research Talk: 9 a.m., Rowe 331E, Pursuing a Career in STEM: Can I do it? Why do I want to? What will it “cost” me?
Teaching Discussion: 10:30 a.m., Gentry 128C, Designing courses to promote the relevance of course content
Informal Faculty meet-and-greet: 2:30 p.m., Gentry 340D
Wednesday, Dec. 11: Dr. Justice Walker
Research Talk: 1:30 p.m., Tasker 12, When Paradigms Shift: Science Education Research on Middle School Synthetic Biology Learning
Teaching Discussion: 9:00 a.m., Gentry 128C, Debating Science: Challenges, Opportunities, and Best Practices in Engaging Socio-scientific Issues for Learning
Informal Faculty meet-and-greet: 11:00 a.m., Gentry 128C
Monday, Dec. 16: Dr. Kathleen Lynch
Research Talk: 8:30 a.m., Gentry 144, title TBA
Teaching Discussion: 10:30 a.m., Gentry 128C, topic TBA
Informal Faculty meet-and-greet: 10:00 a.m., Gentry 128C
Tuesday, Dec. 17: Dr. Karrie Godwin
Research Talk: 1:00 p.m., Gentry 144, title TBA
Teaching Discussion: 9:00 a.m., Gentry 128C, topic TBA
Informal Faculty meet-and-greet: 3:00 p.m.
Please let a member of the search committee know of any questions (Catherine Little, Robin Grenier, Devin Kearns, Nicole Landi, Suzanne Wilson, Mike Young). Thanks!
 Catherine A. Little, Ph.D.

Professor, Educational Psychology 

University of Connecticut

 2131 Hillside Rd., Unit 3007

Storrs, CT 06269-3007

860-486-2754

Office: Tasker 2