Tatyana Sharpee, an assistant professor in the Salk Institute's Laboratory for Computational Biology, has received the McKnight Scholar Award, which recognizes young neuroscientists in the early stages of establishing their independent laboratories.
She was among six scientists from across the country selected for this prestigious recognition in May. McKnight's Endowment Fund for Neuroscience sponsors the annual competition. As a recipient, Sharpee will be awarded $225,000 over three years to further her research program.
Sharpee, who is interested in how the brain processes information, is an authority on applying information theory to parse the code neurobiological systems use to handle widely varying inputs. Neurobiologists' perennial quest centers on deciphering how the brain codes and processes information.
Sharpee developed a statistical method that allows her to analyze the response of brain cells to natural stimuli. Using this approach, she discovered that brain cells adjust their filtering properties to make the most sense of the incoming information. Currently, she is expanding her method to include higher-level brain cells, which are very specific to particular combinations of inputs.