July 26, 2012

Salk professor Terrence Sejnowski receives IEEE Frank Rosenblatt Award

Salk News

Salk professor Terrence Sejnowski receives IEEE Frank Rosenblatt Award

LA JOLLA, CA—The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), the world’s largest professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity, has awarded Terrence Sejnowski, professor and head of the Salk Institute’s Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, the 2013 IEEE Frank Rosenblatt Award.

Sejnowski was selected for the honor in recognition of his outstanding contributions to computational neuroscience. A leader in the field, his trailblazing work helped spark the neural networks revolution in computing in the 1980s. He is also recognized for his important contributions to artificial and real neural network algorithms and applying signal processing models to neuroscience.

“Terry’s seminal research in computational neurobiology epitomizes the Salk’s legacy of groundbreaking discovery and innovation,” said William R. Brody, President, Salk Institute. “The IEEE Award is further recognition of his exceptional scientific accomplishments, and we congratulate him on this well deserved honor.”

A physicist by early training and a pioneer in using computers to understand brain function, Sejnowski models how the interaction of groups of neurons is able to produce complex behavior, and he has also used this understanding to develop particular computer algorithms – called artificial neural networks – that are able to solve practical engineering problems including methods to reduce background noise in cellphone conversations and headphones. Sejnowski has focused his recent research on how the brain is capable of learning and storing memories, exploring the brain mechanisms responsible for triggering plasticity at synapses between neurons. His research may also provide critical clues to how memories are consolidated during sleep states.

The IEEE Frank Rosenblatt Award is named in honor of Frank Rosenblatt, who is widely regarded as one of the founders of neural networks. His work influenced and anticipated many modern neural network approaches. For nearly a century, the IEEE Awards Program has paid tribute to technical professionals whose exceptional achievements and research have made a lasting impact on technology, society and the engineering profession. The award is given for contributions to the advancement of the design, practice, techniques or theory in biologically and linguistically motivated computational paradigms.

The recipient of multiple awards and honors, Sejnowski is also one of only ten living individuals to have been elected to all three branches of the National Academies: the National Academy of Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, and the National Academy of Engineering.

About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:
The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world’s preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused both on discovery and on mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and infectious diseases by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

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