Michale Fee is a professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received a Bachelors of Engineering with honors in engineering physics from the School of Engineering at the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in applied physics from Stanford University, where he conducted his thesis work in the laboratory of Steven Chu. He was then a postdoctoral fellow at Bell Laboratories, where he worked in the laboratory of David Kleinfeld on the cortical circuitry in the vibrissa system of the rat underlying the sense of touch. He joined the Biological Computation Research Department at Bell Labs as a permanent researcher in 1996 and began working on the mechanisms of vocal sequence generation in the songbird. In 2003, he joined the faculty of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT and was named an investigator at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research.
Fee’s group at MIT studies how the brain learns and generates sequential behaviors, with a focus on the songbird as a model system. Birdsong is a complex behavior that young birds learn from their fathers, and it provides an ideal system to study the neural basis of learned behavior. Because the parts of the bird’s brain that control song learning are closely related to human brain circuits, Fee hopes the lessons learned from birdsong will lead to an understanding of the fundamental mechanisms of vertebrate brain function. Fee was awarded the 2012 Lawrence C. Katz Prize for Innovative Research in Neuroscience and was a Dart Scholar. He is co-director of the Methods in Computational Neuroscience at Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He is supported by grants from the NIH, NIMH, NSF, the Mathers Foundation, CHDI and the Simons Center for the Social Brain.