Howard Chizeck appointed 2015 Presidential Entrepreneurial Faculty Fellow

20150121pbp_H-Chizeck_1519BRL Faculty Howard Chizeck has been appointed as a 2015 UW CoMotion Presidential Innovation Fellow due to his involvement in the University’s program for affiliated start-ups and his past entrepreneurial experience.

From the UW EE Announcement:

Chizeck’s nomination materials highlight his entrepreneurial success translating research into products. Early in his career, Chizeck founded Controlsoft, Inc., in 1985, which for 30 years has provided control algorithms and software for industrial uses and municipal water systems. More recently, Chizeck cofounded BluHaptics in 2013, which enables precision control of robots and drones and anticipates major expansion in late 2015. Chizeck was also involved in the inception of the Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering (CSNE) and has continued to be part of its leadership. Through the CSNE, Chizeck and his students have developed cutting-edge brain-computer interface technologies related to deep brain stimulation for the treatment of movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Read the full EE Announcement of his appointment here-


Congratulations BRL Graduates!

The BioRobotics lab is pleased to announce the graduation of four of our student researchers this spring! Three PhD students and one Bachelor’s degree were awarded to BRL students. Congratulations are in order for Dr. Tamara Bonaci, Dr. Levi Cheng, Dr. Iris Jiang, and Sharon Newman! For a brief description of each of the graduate’s work and future plans, please read on


TamaraGradTamara Bonaci, PhD in Electrical Engineering

Tamara has spent her time at UW EE researching security and privacy issues of cyberphysical systems. Specifically, her dissertation focused on the security and privacy problems posed by brain computer interfaces and teleoperated robotic systems. During her time at UW she was advised by Howard Chizeck, and she will be staying with the BioRobotics lab for the summer while she finalizes her theoretical work with these two cyberphysical systems. Congratulations Tamara!


Levi Cheng, PhD in Mechanical Engineering

Levi was advised by Blake Hannaford while he researched methods for identifying and preventing tissue damage from robotic surgery devices. His work included simulation of different mechanical grippers as well as analysis of tissue necrosis due to gripping force. Congratulations Levi!


Iris Jiang, PhD in Bioengineering

Iris, who was also advised by Blake Hannaford, researched how healthy subjects responded to various feedback methods in order to design higher-performance state feedback for lower-limb prosthetic users. The project was aimed at reducing falls in lower-limb amputees by warning a user of a trip or unstable surface in a short enough time such that the patient could react to correct before falling. Iris was interested in extending this work to patients who had undergone Targeted Muscle Reinnervation (TMR) surgery. Congratulations Iris!


Sharon Newman, B.S. in Bioengineering

Sharon worked with Iris to tackle the difficult and time-consuming problem of mapping sensations after a TMR surgery. She and Iris developed an approach to automating the mapping procedure using the Raven Surgical Robot, a Kinect depth-sensor, and a computer application for mapping patient responses. For one year starting in September 2015, Sharon will be funded by Fulbright and Whitaker fellowships to conduct research and attend classes in the BrainLinks-BrainTools department at the University of Freiburg, Germany. Congratulations Sharon!Iris_Sharon_Graduation

Tamara Bonaci to receive UW CIAC Rising Star Award

tamara_croppedBRL PhD Candidate Tamara Bonaci will be receiving the UW’s Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity (CIAC) Rising Star Award on Thursday, May 28th. The CIAC is recognizing her contributions for medical device security of both teleoperated surgical systems and brain-computer interfaces. Congratulations Tamara! Read more about the award and other honorees here-

BRL Contributes two papers to We Robot 2015


We Robot posted the papers to be discussed next week at upcoming conference at the University of Washington. The conference deals with various ethical and legal issues surrounding near-future technologies. The BioRobotics lab contributed two papers to the conference that refer to our ongoing work in teleoperation security and closed-loop DBS systems. We are really looking forward to seeing what discussions these papers generate!

Feel free to read the papers or watch the panel discussions from the conference which have been published online at the below links-

Read more

BRL Students Receive NSF GRFP and NDSEG Fellowships!

We’ve received great news for three BioRobotics lab affiliated students who each received a new fellowship this week! Two students, EE graduate student Katherine Pratt and undergrad alum Andrew Hill, each received a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Margaret Thompson, an EE graduate student, received the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship. Congratulations to all three of them!


mthompson_headshotCurrent BRL graduate student Margaret Thompson graduated in 2014 from Harvey Mudd College with a degree in engineering. Her current work with Professor Chizeck in the BioRobotics Lab is designing novel brain-computer interface (BCI) platforms using long-term, fully implanted deep brain stimulation (DBS) electrodes which were originally designed to treat movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease and essential tremor. Read more about her work here.


kpratt_headshotKatherine Pratt graduated in 2008 from MIT with a degree in aerospace engineering.  She worked at Blue Origin in systems engineering prior to entering active duty as an officer in the US Air Force.  Most of her service was spent at Edwards AFB as a member of the operational test team for the F-35; she concentrated on pilot systems and cockpit integration.  After leaving the military, she worked with Adrian KC Lee at UW (LABS^N), running spatio-temporal behavioral, EEG, and M/EEG experiments.  For the past academic year she has been a participant in the NSF Center for Sensorimotor Neural Engineering’s program that facilitates veterans returning to academia.  Her current work with Professor Chizeck  is in the BioRobotics Lab is developing touchscreen control using EMG and other neural signals for individuals without sufficient finger dexterity to operate smart phones, tablets and similar devices.


andrew_hillAndrew Hill is a UW Bioengineering undergraduate alumni. He worked in the Biorobotics Lab from 2010 to 2012, where he did a year long senior capstone design project under the supervision of Professors Chizeck and Hannaford. After graduating in 2012, he then worked as an engineer at Tekscan, Inc. for one year followed by another year as a genomics researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital/Broad Institute in Boston, returning to UW in 2014 as a graduate student in Genome Sciences.


Read more about the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program here.

More information about the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship is available here.


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