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Mapping the Brain: A Grand Challenge

Saturday, June 1, 2013
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

Join leading neuroscientists, psychologists, philosophers, biologists, and computer scientists in a discussion on the colossal challenges that must be overcome to understand, record, and analyze our neural wetware. What will it take to understand the human brain? President Obama’s new BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative aims to provide an unprecedented window into the internal life of the brain, which could lead to revolutionary changes in science, medicine, and technology.

The World Science Festival’s annual salon series offers in-depth conversations with leading scientists, extending the discussion of the Festival’s premiere public programs to graduate students, postdocs, faculty and well-informed members of the general public.

This program is part of the Big Ideas Series, made possible with support from the John Templeton Foundation.


Gary MarcusCognitive Psychologist

Gary Marcus, scientist, bestselling author, and entrepreneur, is Professor of Psychology and Neural Science at NYU and CEO and Co-Founder of the recently-formed Geometric Intelligence, Inc.

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Arthur CaplanProfessor

Arthur L. Caplan is the Drs. William F and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor and head of the Division of Bioethics at New York University Langone Medical Center in New York City. Prior to coming to NYU, he was the Emmanuel and Robert Hart Professor of Bioethics and director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Miyoung ChunMolecular Biologist

Miyoung Chun is vice president of science programs at The Kavli Foundation in Oxnard, California. Prior to her current role, Chun was an assistant dean of science and engineering at University of California Santa Barbara (UCSB), in particular serving for the California Nanosystems Institute.

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George ChurchGeneticist

George Church is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and director of PersonalGenomes.org, providing the world’s only open-access information on human Genomic, Environmental, and Trait data (GET). His 1984 Harvard Ph.D. included the first methods for direct genome sequencing, molecular multiplexing, and barcoding.

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R. Douglas FieldsNeurologist, Author

R. Douglas Fields is a developmental neurobiologist and author of The Other Brain, a popular book about the discovery of brain cells (called glia) that communicate without using electricity. He is an authority on neuron-glia interactions, brain development, and the cellular mechanisms of memory.

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Kristen HarrisNeuroscientist

Kristen Harris is one of the world’s leading neuroscientists investigating synapse structure and function. She has been a professor of neuroscience at Harvard, Boston University, Georgia Health Sciences University, and since 2006 in the Center for Learning and Memory at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Christof KochNeuroscientist

Born in the American Midwest, Christof Koch grew up in Holland, Germany, Canada, and Morocco. He studied Physics and Philosophy and was awarded his Ph.D. in Biophysics. In 1987, Koch joined the California Institute of Technology as a Professor in Biology and Engineering.

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Philip RubinCognitive Scientist, Technologist

Philip Rubin is the principal assistant director for science at the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in the Executive Office of the President of the United States, where he also leads the White House Neuroscience Initiative.

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Murray ShanahanCognitive Roboticist

Murray Shanahan is a professor of cognitive robotics at Imperial College London. In the 1980s, he studied computer science as an undergraduate at Imperial College, and then obtained his Ph.D. from Cambridge University (King’s College).

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Rafael YusteNeuroscientist

Rafael Yuste is professor of biological sciences and neuroscience at Columbia University. He was born in Madrid, where he obtained his M.D. at the Universidad Autónoma. He performed Ph.D. studies with Larry Katz in Torsten Wiesel’s laboratory at Rockefeller University and was a postdoctoral student of David Tank at Bell Labs.

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