Brittany Nixon wins second place at NSF REU Presentation Contest!

LIMBS Lab summer REU student Brittany Nixon won Second Place out of 15 talks at the annual JHU / LCSR Summer REU Program for her excellent oral presentation entitled “A Mathematical Model of the Fish Tracking Response of the Weakly Electric Glass Knifefish”. Special thanks to her mentor Ismail Uyanik.


Left: A day in the lab. Right: Brittany & Ismail at Brittany’s poster the day before.

Brittany joins a long list of successful REU students from the LIMBS lab!

2010: Rohan Ramesh (1st Place), Rachel Jackson (2nd Place)
2012: Daniel Price (1st Place)
2016:  Luke Arend (1st Place)
2018: Brittany Nixon (2nd Place)

Introducing Dr. Erin Sutton!

On July 6, 2016, Erin Sutton successfully defended her PhD Dissertation “Bioelectric Sensing and Navigation: Multimodal Control in Electric Fish and Endovascular Interventions”, becoming the 10th PhD graduate of the LIMBS Laboratory.

Congrats Erin!

LIMBS Lab receives NSF grant

CowanFortuneLIMBS Lab director Noah Cowan and his colleague, neuroscientist Eric Fortune, were awarded a $805,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, entitled “Neural Mechanisms of Active Sensing”. 

Animals, including humans, routinely use movement to sense the world around them. For example, to sense the texture of an object, a person might move her hand over the surface, whereas to measure the object’s weight, she might hold it in her palm and move it up and down. This use of different movements to sense features of the environment is called Active Sensing. Although active sensing is commonplace in human behavior, how the brain generates and controls these movements is poorly understood. The goal of this project is to reveal and describe (in mathematical equations) the brain’s strategies for active sensing. This will be achieved by studying a specialized animal species, the weakly electric glass knifefish. This animal was chosen because it has a suite of properties that make it ideally suited for the experimental approach. The expected findings will have broad implications for active sensing in other animals (including humans) because active sensing behaviors are similar across species. This work will have broad societal impacts, including the possible transformation of robotic control systems and enhanced understanding of the brain that may ultimately improve our understanding of neurological disorders. Further this work includes multidisciplinary training of promising students in critical STEM fields.

Noah Cowan and James Knierim receive two grants

CowanKnierimHow do you keep track of where you are as you walk through a known environment, such as your house or a shopping mall?  To study this question, Mechanical Engineering professor Noah Cowan and Neuroscience professor James Knierim were selected to receive two awards that aim to use engineering approaches to shed new light on the brain’s “inner GPS”.

  • 2015 Johns Hopkins Discovery Award, entitled “Engineering Approaches to Studying Spatial Representations in the Brain”. PI: Noah J. Cowan. $100,000.
  • A National Institutes of Health R21, entitled “A Control Theoretic Approach to Addressing Hippocampal Function“, PI: Noah J. Cowan. $202,500.
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