Professor Ila Fiete From MIT Wins the Swartz Prize From the Society for Neuroscience

Ila Fiete, a professor in the department of brain and cognitive sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has won the Swartz Prize for Theoretical and Computational Neuroscience from the Society for Neuroscience.

Professor Fiete is being honored for breakthrough research modeling hippocampal grid cells, a component of the navigational system of the mammalian brain. “Fiete’s body of work has already significantly shaped the field of neuroscience and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” according to a statement by the Society of Neuroscience.

“Fiete is considered one of the strongest theorists of her generation who has conducted highly influential work demonstrating that grid cell networks have attractor-like dynamics,” added Hollis Cline, a professor at the Scripps Research Institute of California and head of the Swartz Prize selection committee.

“I’m truly honored to receive the Swartz Prize,” said Dr. Fiete. “This prize recognizes my group’s efforts to decipher the circuit-level mechanisms of cognitive functions involving navigation, integration, and memory. It also recognizes, in its focus, the bearing-of-fruit of dynamical circuit models from my group and others that explain how individually simple elements combine to generate the longer-lasting memory states and complex computations of the brain. I am proud to be able to represent, in some measure, the work of my incredible students, postdocs, collaborators, and intellectual mentors. I am indebted to them and grateful for the chance to work together.”

Dr. Fiete also is an associate member of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and director of the K. Lisa Yang Integrative Computational Neuroscience Center at MIT. Before coming to MIT, Dr. Fiete was on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin in the Center for Learning and Memory.

Professor Fiete holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Michigan. She earned a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in physics at Harvard University.

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