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2015 NSF Graduate Research Fellow Wilka Carvalho

Wilka Carvalho

Wilka Carvalho

Grad program: Theoretical Neuroscience (intended)
Undergrad: BS in Physics, Stony Brook University
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY & Northern Potosi, Bolivia
Advisor: Axel Drees

How does it feel to earn an NSF GRF?
It is an honor to win the NSF GRF. I am excited to pursue graduate study with this fellowship supporting myself and my research. I think the freedom it allows me will make it easier to pursue my interest of applying computer science towards neuroscience.

What will you research and how might it benefit the world?
I am interested in how the brain parses information in the presence of stereotypes. An integrative approach is necessary in order to understand the brain, its capacity to process and organize information and how this relates to its physical structure and to the complex social behavior that manifests. This knowledge will enable us to better emulate and simulate intelligence, allowing us to draw inspiration from the brain towards fields such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

What sparked your interest in your research, or science in general?
We are largely unaware of the behavioral patterns we exhibit. Pursuit of the origins of these patterns led me to the brain, which constantly receives and parses massive amounts of information to create a representation of the world we live in and to provide the basis for our behavior in it. Both my outreach activities and my research interests are inspired by my awareness of social stereotypes and how these manifest in brain and behavior. I chose a physics major in order to use axiomatic approaches towards understanding the dynamics of the brain and behavior. I am interested in learning more about fields like applied mathematics and computer science so I can apply topics such as network theory and computational complexity towards understanding the brain.
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