Kwabena Boahen, PhD
Principal Investigator

Educational Background

  • BS, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 1989
  • MSE, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Johns Hopkins University, 1989
  • PhD, Computation and Neural Systems, California Institute of Technology, 1997

Honors and Awards

  • Beneficial-Hodson Merit Scholarship, Johns Hopkins University, 1985
  • Sloan Fellowship for Theoretical Neurobiology, California Institute of Technology, 1995
  • Skirkanich Junior Chair, University of Pennsylvania, 1997
  • Fellowship in Science and Engineering, Packard Foundation, 1999
  • CAREER Award, National Science Foundation, 2001
  • Young Investigator Award, Office of Naval Research, 2002
  • NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, National Institutes of Health, 2006

Research Goals

Being a scientist at heart, I want to understand how cognition arises from neuronal properties. Being an engineer by training, I am using silicon integrated circuits to emulate the way neurons compute, linking the seemingly disparate fields of electronics and computer science with neurobiology and medicine.

My group's contributions to the field of neuromorphic engineering include a silicon retina that could be used to give the blind sight and a self-organizing chip that emulates the way the developing brain wires itself up. Our work is widely recognized, with over sixty publications, including a cover story in the May 2005 issue of Scientific American.

My current research interest is building a simulation platform that will enable the cortex's inner workings to be modeled in detail. While progress has been made linking neuronal properties to brain rhythms, the task of scaling up these models to link neuronal properties to cognition still remains. Making the supercomputer-performance required affordable is the goal of our Neurogrid project. It is at the vanguard of a profound shift in computing, away from the sequential, step-by-step Von Neumann machine towards a parallel, interconnected architecture more like the brain.