DANIEL VAN ZANT
Entered: Neuroscience Graduate Program NGP 2022
Mentor: Elan Barenholtz Ph.D. & William Hahn, Ph.D.
Thesis Topic: TBD
BS Psychology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
“My primary research interests are in understanding cognition using the human brain as a model system. I am especially interested in how complex cognitive processes can arise from simple interactions in arbitrary dynamic systems. I am working on using the paradigm of reservoir computing to shed some light on this. I am also working on a research grant to predict substance abuse trends by using machine learning on data scraped from online drug discussion forums.
During my first year, I was able to rotate with Dr. Barenholtz and Dr. Hahn, Dr. Dawei Li, and Dr. Behnaz Ghoraani. All of them are doing fascinating dry lab brain research which uses state of the art machine learning methods. Although my final choice of lab was Dr. Barenholtz and Dr. Hahn’s Machine Perception and Cognitive Robotics Laboratory (MPCR), I was glad to be able to make connections and learn some of the methods employed in multi-omics and biotechnology.
My favorite part of the NGP so far has been the many excellent events and networking opportunities. In addition to the events hosted by the Brain Institute I have also gotten the chance to attend many events through my affiliation with the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences, Center for Future Mind, Rubin and Cindy Gruber AI Sandbox, and the MPCR (all of which are hosted here at FAU). In the past year, I have gotten the chance to meet and learn from such great thinkers as Dr. Andre Fenton, Dr. Stephen Wolfram, and Dr. David Chalmers to name a few. FAU also has an impressive network of complex systems and theoretical neuroscientists that are based right here at the university.”