July 27, 2023
Smith Named Co-Director of CMU-Pitt Neuroscience Partnership
By Caroline Sheedy
Matthew A. Smith, a professor of biomedical engineering and Carnegie Mellon University's Neuroscience Institute, has been named co-director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), a long-standing research and education partnership between CMU and the University of Pittsburgh.
The center links faculty and students from the two universities through graduate training, undergraduate research opportunities, and joint publications and grant submissions.
"The center provides a way for students and faculty to connect formally and informally," said Smith, who has been part of the community for 20 years as a postdoc and faculty member at both Pitt and CMU. "I'm very committed to these two universities cooperating so closely, and I think it’s very important for our science."
Julie Fiez is CNBC's co-director and the chair of Pitt's Department of Psychology. She said Smith stands out for his thoughtful, collaborative approach to leadership.
"Matt has directly experienced how the CNBC can impact individuals at all career stages, and he already has terrific ideas for new initiatives to support graduate student, postdoc and faculty research and mentoring," Fiez said. "He has a unique perspective on the value of cross-institutional collaboration and approaches for working effectively across institutional differences in policies and procedures."
Fiez also highlighted Smith's scientific interests.
"Matt and I share a deep fascination with how the brain gives rise to complex cognitive behavior, but we use different research approaches and so our combined interests and expertise are a terrific reflection of the CNBC community," she said.
When the CNBC underwent a reimagining in 2022, Smith was part of the group that redefined the center's mission and vision. He said being a part of the community is why he is excited to come to work each day.
"I got into science because I was excited by the ideas and the techniques, and I thought I could apply my skill set in a way that could be effective. But the reason I've stayed, what motivates me to work hard on a grant application or try my best when running a workshop, is because I feel I'm doing something for the community," he said. "Other people are benefiting. It's the glue that holds us all together."