In The News

Victoria Abraira named 2019 PEW Scholar

Victoria Abraira, an assistant professor in Rutgers Cell Biology and Neuroscience was selected as a 2019 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences provides funding to young investigators of outstanding promise in science relevant to the advancement of human health.

The program makes grants to selected academic institutions to support the independent research of outstanding individuals who are in their first few years of their appointment at the assistant professor level.

Abraira is only the fourth faculty member and first woman from Rutgers University to win this honor!

Congratulations to this Rutgers University—New Brunswick scholar whose research explores the neural circuits involved in processing and responding to touch.

"Although touch is an important part of our everyday lives and shapes how we move through the world and interact with others, it is the least studied of all the senses," Abraira said in her bio posted on Pew. "As a postdoctoral fellow, I discovered that most of the neurons in the skin that detect touch relay information to cells in the spinal cord, rather than communicating directly with the brain."

Using methods in molecular genetics coupled with advanced techniques for manipulating and monitoring the activity of individual neurons in awake mice, her team will stimulate or silence specific spinal circuits to determine how they encode tactile sensations and use this information to guide the animal’s behavior and its ability to coordinate movement.

The team will also explore, for the first time, how social touch is modulated by spinal circuits that differ from those that process the touch that allows us to grasp and distinguish objects.

"Our findings could lead to new treatments for disorders that impair social interactions, such as autism, or to improved therapies for spinal cord injury," she says.

Congratulations to Mary Rigdon for receiving a 300K NSF grant!

Congratulations to Mary Rigdon for receiving a 300K NSF grant from Decision, Risk, and Management Science at NSF, “Wanting to Control”, with Alessandra Cassar (USF)!

The research is a series of experiments grounded in evolutionary theory that investigates the role of incentives in gender differences in competitive preferences. Recent evidence suggests that women underperform relative to men when under competitive pressure and that women shy away from highly rewarding, yet risky, economic environments. Based on a cost/benefit analysis of specific strategic behaviors, we advance a new hypothesis: women and men are equally competitive, but motivated by different incentive mechanisms that run deep into both the genetic and cultural components at the root of human behavior.

Eddy Chen defends and receives Waterman Medal of Excellence

We are very proud to announce that Eddy Chen, graduate student in Philosophy and Cog Sci certificate student will receive the Waterman Medal of Excellence from the School of Graduate Studies. This prestigious award celebrates exceptional scholarly achievements across the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. 

Please join us in congratulating him on receiving this award, as well as defending his PhD in Philosophy, MS in Mathematical Physics, and accepting a tenure track position at UCSD starting in the Fall!

Konstantinos Michmizos (CS) awarded NIH CAREER Grant for Neurorehabilitation Robotics

Please join us in congratulating Konstantinos Michmizos (CS) in being awarded an NIH CAREER Grant for Neurorehabilitation Robotics. The NIH K Awards are given to Professors who have demonstrated abilities to become leaders in their field. The K Career Award ($250K, 2 years) will enable Konstantinos to combine Biological and Artificial Learning, in collaboration with Hermano Igo Krebs (MIT), Amy J. Bastian (JHU), and Matti Hamalainen (Harvard Medical School).

The overarching goal of Konstantinos's proposal is to systematically co-develop new methods and technology to personalize neurorehabilitation robots. Given the novel hypotheses, approach, expected findings, and potential for translation, the proposed research will enable further studies on the neural underpinnings of learning as well as contribute to developing intervention procedures that personalize recovery, further expanding the residual capacity for neuroplasticity for people in need.

Undergraduate Awards, Spring 2019

To say we are proud is an understatement. The achievements of our undergraduates this year is something to celebrate! Below, we highlight their truly remarkable accomplishments.


Spirit of Rutgers Award:

  • Cognitive Science Club

Henry Rutgers Scholar:

  • Noa Attali (advisor: Karin Stromswold) AND making history by also receiving a Henry Rutgers award for a thesis she completed in English!

Cognitive Science Thesis Award Recipient:

  • Scott Hoberman (advisor: Jacob Feldman - Psychology)
  • Noa Attali (advisor: Karin Stromswold - Psychology)

Paul Robeson Scholar:

  • Karl Mulligan (advisor: Matt Stone - Computer Science) AND received an award for academic excellence from the Linguistics department!
  • Aashana Patel (advisor: Kelvin Kwan - Cell Biology and Neuroscience)
  • Scott Hoberman (advisor: Jacob Feldman - Psychology)
  • Noa Attali (advisor: Karin Stromswold - Psychology)