Prof. Nima Mesgarani Selected for 2015 Kavli Grant and RISE Award

Nima MesgaraniAssistant Professor Nima Mesgarani has recently been named in two prestigious collaborative awards. The Kavli Institute for Brain Science, Columbia University, has named Professor Mesgarani and Professor Sarah Woolley of the psychology department recipients of a Kavli Grant. Their winning proposal, titled “Organizing principles of speech and birdsong: parallels in the acoustic, perceptual and neural categorization of vocal communication sounds “ seeks to create a link between shared neural mechanisms involved in speech and song perception. This is the first step toward establishing an animal model that can be used to further investigate how the brain makes sense of communication calls.

On June 8th it was announced that Professor Nima Mesgarani’s team was selected for the high-risk research funding RISE (Research Initiatives in Science & Engineering) Grant. These grants are issued to interdisciplinary faculty pairings that aim to tackle early-stage, highly imaginative research. Along with his collaborator Dr. Sameer Sheth from the Neurosurgery department, submitted the proposal, “Neurobiology of Robust Speech Perception in Human Auditory Cortex”. This grant seeks to create a new research program at the interface of speech processing and decision making, therefore combining the expertise of these two groups. Their goal is to understand how the brain interprets and resolves conflicting information we often receive in real world situations.

These grants support Professor Mesgarani’s effort to establish an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach in bringing together the complementary expertise required to study a complex organ such as the brain. He will be presenting a talk on the subject as a keynote speaker at the IEEE Workshop on Applications of Signal Processing to Audio and Acoustics this August.

- by Jessica Rodriguez

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