WPI has launched a multidisciplinary initiative to develop a robust, externally funded research program in neuroscience that complements and intersects areas such as systems biology, cognitive neuroscience, neuroimmunology, connectomics, imaging, bioinformatics, computational biology, and biomedical engineering. This initiative involves several departments across WPI including Biology & Biotechnology, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry & Biochemistry, Computer Science, Mathematical Sciences, and Physics.
From Neurons to Neuroengineering...
Robert E. Dempski
Our research focus is to combine biochemical and biophysical techniques to investigate the structure and function of two classes of membrane proteins. In the first instance, we are investigating the mechanism of a zinc transporter, hZIP4. This protein has been implicated in the initiation and progression of pancreatic cancer. Despite the central role of this protein in cellular homeostasis, the mechanism of cation transport is not well understood. Secondly, we have been investigating the molecular determinants that help to define the functionality of opsin proteins.
Dr. Jean King is the WPI Peterson family Dean in the School of Arts and Sciences. She also serves as a Professor of Biology and Biotechnology, affiliate Professor in Biomedical Engineering Department, Professor in the Neuroscience Program and Director, NeuroTech Suite at WPI. Prior to joining WPI, she was vice provost for biomedical research at the University of Massachusetts Medical School; a tenured professor of psychiatry, radiology, and neurology; and director of the university’s Center for Comparative Neuroimaging.
Professor Kong’s research interests focus on data mining and machine learning, with emphasis on addressing the data science problems in biomedical and social applications. Data today involves an increasing number of data types that need to be handled differently from conventional data records, and an increasing number of data sources that need to be fused together. Dr. Kong is particularly interested in designing algorithms to tame data variety issues in various research fields, such as biomedical research, social computing, neuroscience, and business intelligence.
My research is interdisciplinary and spans the fields of bioinformatics of complex disease, computational genomics, systems biology, and biomedical data analytics. We bring expertise in machine learning, data mining and massive data analytics to study molecular mechanisms underlying genetic disorders, such as cancer, diabetes, and autism, and deadly infections, such as pandemic flu. Our approaches benefit from integrating Next Generation Sequencing, high-throughput interactomics, and structural biology data.
I work with Dean Jean King, where our research is broadly focused on identifying and studying neurobehavioral mechanisms of mental illness and developing effective interventions. We currently use functional MRI (fMRI) to identify the neural correlates of mindfulness based stress reduction as part of a stage IIa randomized clinical trial, and fMRI data combined with related clinical measures to develop machine learning based early predictors of severe depression and suicidality.
Angela C Incollingo Rodriguez
Angela Incollingo Rodriguez is an assistant professor of Psychological & Cognitive Sciences and a faculty member in the new WPI Neuroscience Initiative. In addition to collaborating on interdisciplinary research teams across campus - including the Chronic Pain Research Group - she also directs her own lab - the WPI Stigma Eating & Endocrinology Dynamics (SEED) Lab.
Carolina Ruiz's research interests are in machine learning, artificial intelligence and data mining. Together with her graduate and undergraduate students, Dr. Ruiz has worked on numerous interdisciplinary research projects with clinicians from the University of Massachusetts Medical School on developing and using machine learning algorithms over clinical and behavioral patient data.
Suzanne Frances Scarlata
We are interested in learning how small molecules in the blood stream can cause cells to react in specific ways, such as growing, dividing or migrating. While there are many agents that can stimulate or inhibit cell behavior, we are most interested in the ability of certain hormones and neurotransmitters to activate a family of proteins called "G Proteins". G proteins can simulate an enzyme called phospholipase Cbeta (PLCbeta). Activation of PLCbeta raises the level of calcium in the cell, which changes the activity of many other proteins.
Jeanine Skorinko is a professor of psychology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the Department of Social Science and Policy Studies. She also is the director of the Psychological Science undergraduate program. She received her PhD in social psychology at the University of Virginia.
My research is in human-computer interaction. One focus of my research is on next-generation interaction techniques, such as brain-computer interfaces, physiological computing, and reality-based interaction. I design, build and evaluate interactive computing systems that use machine learning approaches to adapt and support the user’s changing cognitive state and context. I also investigate novel paradigms for designing with accessibility in mind, particularly for the Deaf community.
It has been my lifelong dream to become a professor in the field of Biology. Being a faculty member provides a great opportunity to teach and interact with students. Students by nature are highly inquisitive and motivated, and as teachers, we have the responsibility to guide our students to explore and think in new ways. I believe that teaching is a two-way interaction between teachers and students. I come from India and my parents, both of whom were teachers, taught me to strive for excellence in my scholarly pursuits.