A University of Pennsylvania postdoctoral researcher has made the MIT Technology Review’s 2014 list of 35 Innovators Under 35.
The Review placed Duygu Kuzum in its “pioneer” category, recognizing those who are contributing fundamental work to their fields. In Kuzum’s case, that’s the interface of electronics and neuroscience.
Originally from Turkey, Kuzum received her doctorate at Stanford University in electrical engineering; after an internship at Intel, she became interested in neuroscience.
“It’s extremely robust and it’s very low power, and it occupies less space than a two liter soda bottle,” she said of the brain. “It’s very different from the digital computers that human beings came up with.”
Her fascination with biological computers eventually led her to Brian Litt‘s lab at the University of Pennsylvania, where she’s been working to create transparent brain electrodes made of graphene. The idea is to record electrical activity while taking pictures of the brain. That information can be used to better understand brain circuits and begin to decipher neurological problems.
“At this point we have been focusing on sensing to understand the circuit dynamics, but definitely they can be engineered to provide more efficient electrical stimulation of the brain, similar to deep brain stimulations in Parkinson’s,” she said.
Kuzum is thrilled with the award, and says she hopes it will help her make connections that are critical for her future research.
“Because my research is very interdisciplinary, it’s very important for me to work with the right people, find more collaborators, and maybe come up with different applications,” she said.
Kuzum was chosen out of more than 500 candidates and 80 finalists. Previous winners include the co-founders of Google and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.