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Where Electronic Circuits Meet the Human Brain

Georgia Tech assistant professor Maysam Ghovanloo (left) points to a small magnet attached to graduate student Xueliang Huo’s tongue that allows him to steer a powered wheelchair and operate a computer mouse. (Image credit: Georgia Tech, Gary Meek)

Editor's Note: ScienceLives is an occasional series that puts scientists under the microscope to find out what makes them tick. The series is a cooperation between the National Science Foundation and LiveScience.

Name: Maysam Ghovanloo Age: 35 Institution: Georgia Institute of Technology, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering Field of Study: Circuits and Systems for Biomedical Applications

What inspired you to choose this field of study? I was interested in electronics and circuit design. I am also fascinated with the human brain, its power, and complexity. My field of study is a logical combination of these two interests.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received? Learn to say “No”! I still haven’t learned how to do this though!

What was your first scientific experiment as a child? I observed the slow-motion acceleration of a free-falling tennis ball in a dark room that was brightened with rapid flashes of a strobe light.

What is your favorite thing about being a scientist or researcher? I like the freedom of defining and working on projects that I am interested in and taking them as far as I would like to. I also like keeping up with the rapid advancements in my research area.

What is the most important characteristic a scientist must demonstrate in order to be an effective scientist? Innovation and perseverance.

What are the societal benefits of your research? My goal is to improve the quality of life for the most severely disabled individuals in society. I would like to help them experience active, independent, and productive lives.

Who has had the most influence on your thinking as a researcher? Program directors of relevant funding agencies.

What about your field or being a scientist do you think would surprise people the most? The complexity and power of the human brain.

If you could only rescue one thing from your burning office or lab, what would it be? My laptop, if the students are already out!

What music do you play most often in your lab or car? Pink Floyd and traditional Persian music.

This researcher is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the federal agency charged with funding basic research and education across all fields of science and engineering.