Bionet Group Researchers


Prof. Aurel A. Lazar Aurel A. Lazar has been a professor of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University since 1988. He founded the Bionet Group in 2003. His primary research interests focus on the molecular architecture and the functional logic of the fruit fly brain. He leads research projects in Building Interactive Computing Tools for the Fruit Fly Brain Observatory, in Computing with Fruit Fly Brain Circuits and on Creating NeuroInformation Processing Machines. [Past Research in Communication Networks (1981-2002)]




Yiyin ZhouYiyin Zhou (Ph.D. October 2015) succesfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled "Massively Parallel Spiking Neural Circuits: Encoding, Decoding and Functional Identification". He received the Jury Award from Columbia's Electrical Engineering Department for outstanding achievement by a graduate student in May 2016. From November 2015 to October 2018 he was a Postdoctoral Research Scientist with the Bionet Group. Since November 2018 he is an Associate Research Scientist with the Bionet Group. His interests are in signal representation in neural systems, particularly in time encoding and decoding for visual signals and computational implementations thereof.







Tingkai (Thomas) Liu Tingkai (Thomas) Liu joined the Bionet group in August of 2016 and is primarily interested in the intersection between theoretical neuroscience research and application of modern computational tools.




Mehmet K. Turkcan Mehmet Kerem Turkcan received the M.S. degree in Computer Science from Columbia University in December 2016 and joined the Bionet Group in January 2017. He is interested in deep learning and computer vision in general.




Shashwat Shukla Shashwat Shukla joined the Bionet group in August 2020 and is interested in understanding neural representations and their underlying dynamics via computational and theoretical modeling of neural circuits.




Jonathan Marty Jonathan Marty (a rising senior at Holmdel High School in NJ) was an intern during the summer of 2018. He packaged the Fruit Fly Brain Observatory software using Docker and implemented a model of the fruit fly early visual system using Keras and Tensorflow. His interests span machine learning, neuroscience, and cybersecurity. Since September 2019 he is an undergraduate student at Columbia University.




Feiyang Yu Feiyang (Kathy) Yu is a Computer Science major at Columbia University. She is interested in the intersections of computer science and neuroscience, specifically computational models and simulation engines for the brain.




Ananya Sahu Ananya Sahu is interested in the intersection of computer science and neuroscience and how computational methodologies can be applied to the field of neuroscience to gain a deeper understanding of the complex functions and systems governing the brain. She is currently a student at Barnard College.




Bionet Alumni


Bionet Ph.D. Alumni




Chung-Heng YehChung-Heng Yeh (Ph.D. October 2019) successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled "Mechanistic Models of Neural Computation in the Fruit Fly Brain". He received the MS Award of Excellence from Columbia's Department of Electrical Engineering in 2013 and the Professional Development Scholarship from Columbia's Engineering Graduate Student Council in 2014. As of December 2020 he is a researcher at Two Sigma.




Nikul H. UkaniNikul H. Ukani (Ph.D. October 2018) successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled "Sparse Algorithms for Decoding and Identification of Neural Circuits". He received the Jury Award from Columbia's Electrical Engineering Department for outstanding achievement by a graduate student in May 2019. As of November 2018 he is a researcher at the D.E. Shaw Group.




Lev E. GivonLev E. Givon (Ph.D. May 2016) successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled "An Open Pipeline for Generating Executable Neural Circuits from Fruit Fly Brain Data". He received the Professional Development Scholarship from Columbia's Engineering Graduate Student Council in 2014. As of July 2020, he is a senior data scientist at Janssen R&D.




Yevgeniy SlutskiyYevgeniy B. Slutskiy (Ph.D. October 2013) successfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled "Identification of Dendritic Processing in Spiking Neural Circuits". He received the Jury Award from Columbia's Electrical Engineering Department for outstanding achievement by a graduate student in May 2014. As of July 2020, he is a senior staff data scientist at Guru.




Anmo KimAnmo J. Kim (Ph.D. October 2010) succesfully defended his doctoral thesis entitled "Information Processing and Representation in the Drosophila Early Olfactory System". In June 2011, he joined Rockefeller University as a postdoctoral researcher. Since March 2018 he is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Hanyang University, Seoul, South Korea.




Eftychios PnevmatikakisEftychios A. Pnevmatikakis (Ph.D. February 2010) defended with distinction his doctoral thesis entitled "Spikes as Projections: Representation and Processing of Sensory Stimuli in the Time Domain". He received the Jury Award from Columbia's Electrical Engineering Department for outstanding achievement by a graduate student in May 2010. He was a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of Statistics and the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia University between 2010-2014. As of February 2020, he is a research scientist working on neural interfaces at Facebook Reality Labs.




Bionet Graduate Student Alumni




Dewei Wang Dewei Wang was a Master's student at the Department of Biomedical Engineering of Columbia interested in creating multiple models of the central complex of Drosophila. He is now a Ph.D. student with the VLSI Lab in the Department of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University.




Konstantinos Psychas Konstantinos Psychas (M.S. February 2015) was interested in visualization techniques and efficient graphics based simulation of brain activity. He received his Ph.D. degree in Electrical Engineering in 2020 and is now with Amazon Web Services.




Wenze LiWenze Li (M.S. February 2012) worked on developing novel recording methods for studying olfactory signal processing in the fruit fly. He also worked on memristor-based modeling of neural circuits. He is currently a Postdoc at the Hillman Lab at Columbia's Biomedical Engineering Department.




Hanyu Li Hanyu Li (M.S. February 2015) investigated massively parallel representations of stimuli in neural systems and analyzed spike processing of olfactory and visual signals. Since September 2015 he is a Ph.D. student in the computational neuroscience program at the University of Chicago.




Lingyu Zhang Lingyu Zhang (M.S. February 2015) studied mechanisms of direction selective visual responses in starburst amacrine cells in the vertebrate retina.




Andrew Edward Pope Andrew Edward Pope II (B.S. February 2015) investigated the translation and efficient simulation of in vivo neuronal networks to functional in silico models.




Vivek Garg Vivek Garg (M.S. February 2014) developed scalable middleware for large-scale neural circuit simulation on multiple GPUs.




Lujia Chen Lujia Chen (M.S. February 2014) built a simulator and created a graphical user interface for the compound eye of the fruit fly.




Ban Wang Ban Wang (M.S. February 2014) worked on a behavior study of the olfactory system of fruit flies and genetic manipulation to find new useful features in transgenic flies. In 2020 she received her Ph.D. from the Seelig Lab in the Department of Electrical Engineering at University of Washington, Seattle. She is now a PostDoc with the Fraser Lab at Stanford.




Daniel Clark Daniel Clark (M.S. February 2014) investigated information processing algorithms and the neural architecture of the visual system, as well as applications of massively parallel computation. As of 2014, he is a research programmer at the Child Mind Institute.




Arthur Argall Arthur Argall (M.S. May 2014) was interested in olfactory circuits and the basic biophysical properties of olfactory sensory neurons. As a Ph.D. student in the program in Neurobiology and Behavior, he was on rotation in the Fly Lab during the summer of 2013. In 2014 he joined the NYU School of Law.




Jignesh Patel Jignesh Patel (M.S. May 2013) investigated the interfacing of parallel computational systems with neurons in the fly brain.




Lu Xu Lu Xu developed new methods for obtaining electrophysiological recordings from transgenic flies. She was on rotation with the Fly lab during the Fall semester of 2012. In 2020 she received her Ph.D. from the Firestein Lab in the Biological Sciences Department at Columbia University.




Daniel S. Chevitarese Daniel S. Chevitarese participated in the Neurokernel Project as a visiting scholar in 2012. As of 2015, he is a researcher at IBM in Rio de Janeiro.




Prabhat Godse Prabhat Godse (M.S. February 2013) developed and implemented GPU-based models of auditory circuits in the fruit fly brain. He also participated in the Neurokernel Project. As of February 2013, he is an engineer at BioDigital Systems.




Mingyang SunMingyang Sun (M.S. February 2013) worked on GPU-accelerated superresolution methods for improving microscope images.




Robert J.  TuretskyRobert J. Turetsky (M.S. 2003) investigated spike signal processing, dendritic computation and spike-based models of audition with an emphasis on the analogy between DSP and neural computing. He received the Millman Outstanding TA Award from Columbia's Department of Electrical Engineering in May 2010. As of 2017, he is a data scientist at Facebook.




Yunseong  NamYunseong Nam (M.S. February 2012) investigated GPU-based models of the antennal lobe of the fruit fly olfactory system.




Noah BerlandNoah Berland (M.S. February 2008) investigated models of bursting neurons and topologies of bursting networks. He examined conditions under which small changes to neuron or synapse model parameters lead to drastically different network behaviors. As of 2013, he is a medical student at NYU Medical School.




Bionet Undergraduate Student Alumni




Tess Fallon Tess Fallon is a rising sophomore at Columbia University. Her interests surround the intersection of neuroscience and electrical engineering, particularly reverse engineering the nervous system for medical applications.




Chloe Shapiro Chloe Shapiro is interested in studying the intersections of neuroscience and computer science. She finds the applications of neuroscience research in computer science such as with brain-computer interfaces and artificial intelligence fascinating. Additionally, she is passionate about neuro-ethics and hopes to work with computation and neuroscience in ways that have positive and sustainable impacts. She is in Barnard's class of 2023.




Jeffrey Xiong Jeffrey Xiong is interested in using computational techniques to evaluate brain function and its uses in uncovering the underlying processes behind neural phenomena. He is a student at Columbia University Class of 2024.




Hyun Dong Lee Hyun Dong Lee is interested in studying computer science and neuroscience to discover how a truly intelligent agents can be constructed and how they can bring advancement in the society. He is a Columbia class of 2019.




Yong Hyun (Hector) Cho Yong Hyun (Hector) Cho is a Columbia Computer Engineering class of 2019. He is now a research staff assistant with the Issa Lab, Dept. of Neuroscience, Columbia University.




Lucas Schuermann Lucas Schuermann is interested in the real-time simulation of complex neural processes using massively parallel computation including the development and implementation of neural models and corresponding low-cost, high-accuracy numerical integration schemes. He is a Columbia Class of 2018 Egleston Scholar.




Amol J. Kapoor Amol J. Kapoor is interested in the development of neural modeling as a way to advance long term studies in artificial intelligence and brain-computer interfaces. He is a Columbia Class of 2018 Egleston Scholar. As of July 2018, he is a software engineer at Google.




Stephanie Rager Stephanie Rager is interested in the intersection of neurobiology and computer science and how we can use the tools that advanced computing and engineering methodology provide to further our knowledge of how the brain processes and responds to stimuli. She is a Columbia Class of 2019 Egleston Scholar.







Bionet High School Student Alumni



Ben Bigdelle Ben Bigdelle a rising senior at Princeton Day School, is a research intern at the Bionet Lab. Over the last year, he has specifically worked with Python and Javascript, focusing on runtimes like Node.js. He is interested in electrical engineering and computer science and would like to study both in college. He hopes to continue working on lab research through the next four years.




Khyber Sen Khyber Sen (a rising Senior at Stuyvesant High School) was an Intern during the summer of 2017. He is interested in applying GPU programming on NVIDIA Jetson Embedded System and use it to control a robotic platform. Since September 2018 he is an undergraduate student at Columbia University.




Jason Zhang Jason Zhang (a graduate of Newman Smith High School ) was an Intern during the summer of 2017. He learnt GPU programming and applied them on processing videos streamed to a robotic platform uisng the NVIDIA Jetson Embedded System. He is now a Electrical Engineering student at the University of Texas, Austin.




Andre Kessler Andre Kessler (a rising Senior at Thomas Jefferson High School of Science and Technology) was an Intern during the summer of 2010. With interests in time encoding/decoding and the representation and manipulation of visual stimuli in time-domain systems, he developed a parallel implementation of a neural linear programming circuit. He graduated from MIT in 2015 and is now with Space-X.




Bionet Visitors




Yu-Chi Yu-Chi Huang is a Ph.D. candidate at National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan. He visited the Bionet Lab from January 6 to January 18, 2016.




Ta-Shun Su Ta-Shun Su is a master student at National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan. He visited the Bionet Lab from January 19 to February 3, 2016.




Adam Tomkins Adam Tomkins is currently a postdoc at Sheffield University, UK. He visited the Bionet Lab from July 14 to August 3, 2016.