Daniel Birman, Ph.D.

University of Washington
Daniel Birman headshot

Daniel Birman is a postdoctoral fellow leading the Virtual Brain Lab (VBL) project in the Steinmetz Lab at the University of Washington. He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from Cornell University in 2012 and his doctorate in cognitive neuroscience from Stanford University in 2019. His research interests range from studying visual attention using computational models based on electrophysiology and neuroimaging data to developing interactive 3D visualization tools for neuroscience. Birman currently leads the VBL project, developing browser-based visualization tools for experimental planning, data visualization and education and outreach. These tools are a step change in the ease-of-use and power of research tools developed for rodent electrophysiology and are in active use by dozens of neuroscience labs around the world. His ongoing research program aims to expand these tools to other domains and accelerate the speed at which large-scale neuroscience experiments can be performed. As the lead researcher on the VBL, Birman mentors a group of undergraduate students developing new features for the VBL tools. In addition to receiving a Washington Research Foundation Fellowship in 2020 to support his postdoctoral research, he received Stanford’s most prestigious teaching honor in 2018 for his efforts mentoring graduate and undergraduate teaching assistants while modernizing an introductory neuroscience course.

Principal Investigator: Nicholas Steinmetz

Fellow: Jasmine Schoch

Undergraduate Fellow Project:

Neuroscience lacks tools for easily displaying and exploring neural data in its original anatomical context. In this project, our group will continue expanding the capabilities of Urchin, a browser-based interactive 3D rendering tool. Urchin allows users to project their electrophysiology data into a 3D scene and explore it alongside the 3D anatomy of the mouse brain. The next step in Urchin’s development is to support the simultaneous electrophysiology and calcium imaging experiments that we perform in the lab. As part of the team, the SURFiN fellow will develop a calcium imaging visualization feature that projects video data back onto the 3D surface of the mouse brain. With the new multi-modal features working, we will use the upgraded renderer to develop a virtual reality experience allowing users to explore the correlations between electrophysiology and calcium imaging datasets. This project is ideal for someone with some programming experience and an interest in developing applied research tools for neuroscience.

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