Carnegie Mellon University

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As you know brain science is an established and growing area of expertise for Carnegie Mellon University. We’ve brought together much of that work under the umbrella of BrainHub, our initiative to understand how the brain works at the pivotal intersection of biology, cognitive psychology, computer science, statistics and engineering.

As BrainHub moves forward, we are pleased to announce several new appointments to the BrainHub initiative and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC) to support this important work.

Alison Barth, a leader in the field of synaptic plasticity who has helped to shape the global field of neuroscience through the innovations created in her lab, has been named interim director of BrainHub. Barth, a professor of biological sciences, will lead the university’s interdisciplinary neuroscience research initiative and help direct the search for a permanent director.

Robert E. Kass, a CMU professor of statistics and machine learning, and one of the world’s foremost experts on the analysis of neural data, has been appointed interim co-director of the CNBC. A joint project between CMU and the University of Pittsburgh, the CNBC integrates Pitt’s strengths in neuroscience with CMU’s strengths in psychology, cognitive science, computer science, biological sciences, engineering and statistics.

Gerry Balbier will continue to serve as Executive Director of BrainHub and we appreciate the work that he has done to date.

Alison and Rob are part of a nine-person search committee seeking to hire a world-class brain scientist as a permanent director for BrainHub. This search is underway and the position description is available online.

Other search committee members include: Michael Tarr, head of the Psychology Department; Marlene Behrmann, the George A. and Helen Dunham Cowan Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience; Vijayakumar Bhagavatula, associate dean for Graduate and Faculty Affairs in the College of Engineering; Tom Mitchell, head of the Machine Learning Department; Aarti Singh, the A. Nico Habermann Associate Professor of Machine Learning; David Danks, head of the Department of Philosophy; and Carl Olson, professor in the CNBC.

BrainHub also will benefit from four new faculty appointments: Maysam Chamanzar in Electrical and Computer Engineering; Jana Kainerstorfer in Biomedical Engineering; Andreas R. Pfenning in Computational Biology; and Ruslan Salakhutdinov in Machine Learning.

I want to thank members of the search committee and all the faculty who contributed to these hires. These outstanding additions reflect our growing momentum in the area of brain science. We expect these new appointments will expand our interdisciplinary community of scholars focused on the intersection of engineering and computational, cognitive and biological neuroscience. A number of faculty from across campus also have benefited from seed funding for this work through ProSeed, and we look forward to announcing additional support later this year.

Finally, more than a dozen of the Presidential Fellowships announced earlier this month support graduate students conducting cutting-edge research in the labs of BrainHub faculty.

Please join me in thanking Alison and Rob for their leadership, and the search committee and our faculty for their help during these searches.


Farnam Jahanian