Previous Speakers

Jennifer Rios-Pilier

Image result for blank profile

Research Assistant at the Anatomical and Neuroscience Building at the University of Louisville

Topic: Role of BDNF-TrkB signaling in Taste Function

Synopsis: BDNF-TrkB signaling regulates taste bud innervation, both during development and in adulthood. In the central nervous system, BDNF enhances synaptic transmission and long term potentiation. In the taste bud, Car4+ cells, which transduce sour taste, express BDNF and synapse with TrkB expressing nerve fibers. However, it is unclear whether BDNF-TrkB signaling plays a functional role in taste transmission. To test this possibility, we used a chemical-genetic approach, which allowed TrkB-signaling to be reversibly blocked with 1-NMPP1 in mice with a specific point mutation (TrkBF616A). TrkBF616A and wild type mice were injected with 1-NMPP1, three hours before taste function was assessed, using both chorda tympani (CT) whole nerve responses and brief-access behavioral tests. When CT responses were normalized to baseline, 1-NMPP1 reduced the CT integrated responses in TrkBF616A mice to 0.5M NH4Cl (p<0.001), 0.02M citric acid (p<0.005), and 0.01N HCL (p<0.003). When CT responses are plotted relative to 0.1M NH4Cl, responses to 0.01N HCL responses were significantly reduced in TrkBF616A treated with 1-NMPP1 (p<0.003). There were no behavioral taste differences in brief-access tests between TrkBF616A and wild type mice when treated with 1-NMPP1. We also examined taste bud innervation in TrkB-CreER:tdtomato:TrkBF616A mice after 3 hours of 1-NMPP1 to confirm that any changes in taste function were not a result of  morphological changes in TrkB afferent fibers. There were no differences in branching patterns of TrkB+ fibers after blocking TrkB signaling for three hours. These data suggest that BDNF-TrkB signaling may function in synaptic transmission or as a neuromodulator in taste receptor cells that transduce sour and/or NH4Cl.

Roman Yampolskiy, Ph.D.

PhotoAssistant Professor at the Computer Engineering and Computer Science Division of the UofL Speed School

Topic: In Our Own Image

Synopsis: Dr. Roman V. Yampolskiy is a Tenured Associate Professor in the department of Computer Engineering and Computer Science at the Speed School of Engineering, University of Louisville. He is the founding and current director of the Cyber Security Lab and an author of many books including Artificial Superintelligence: a Futuristic Approach. During his tenure at UofL, Dr. Yampolskiy has been recognized as: Distinguished Teaching Professor, Professor of the Year, Faculty Favorite, Top 4 Faculty, Leader in Engineering Education, Top 10 of Online College Professor of the Year, and Outstanding Early Career in Education award winner among many other honors and distinctions. Yampolskiy is a Senior member of IEEE and AGI; Member of Kentucky Academy of Science, and Research Advisor for MIRI and Associate of GCRI.

Roman Yampolskiy holds a PhD degree from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University at Buffalo. He was a recipient of a four year NSF (National Science Foundation) IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) fellowship. Before beginning his doctoral studies Dr. Yampolskiy received a BS/MS (High Honors) combined degree in Computer Science from Rochester Institute of Technology, NY, USA. After completing his PhD dissertation Dr. Yampolskiy held a position of an Affiliate Academic at the Center for Advanced Spatial Analysis, University of London, College of London. He had previously conducted research at the Laboratory for Applied Computing (currently known as Center for Advancing the Study of Infrastructure) at the Rochester Institute of Technology and at the Center for Unified Biometrics and Sensors at the University at Buffalo. Dr. Yampolskiy is an alumnus of Singularity University (GSP2012) and a Visiting Fellow of the Singularity Institute (Machine Intelligence Research Institute).

Dr. Yampolskiy’s main areas of interest are AI Safety, Artificial Intelligence, Behavioral Biometrics, Cybersecurity, Digital Forensics, Games, Genetic Algorithms, and Pattern Recognition. Dr. Yampolskiy is an author of over 100 publications including multiple journal articles and books. His research has been cited by 1000+ scientists and profiled in popular magazines both American and foreign (New Scientist, Poker Magazine, Science World Magazine), dozens of websites (BBC, MSNBC, Yahoo! News), on radio (German National Radio, Swedish National Radio, Alex Jones Show) and TV. Dr. Yampolskiy’s research has been featured 250+ times in numerous media reports in 22 languages.

Andrea Behrman, Ph.D., PT, FAPTA

Photo of Andrea Behrman, PhD

Professor at the Department of Neurological Surgery at UofL

Topic: Wounded to Walking

Synopsis: In her lecture, Dr. Andrea Behrman outlined her research being conducted in her lab regarding the development and testing of therapeutic interventions promoting recovery after spinal cord injury in children and adults. Her research captilizes the activity-dependent neuroplasticity and the understanding of the neurobiology of walking and motor control.

Dr. Behrman starts off her lecture by providing anecdotes of patients who have been affected by spinal injuries and how they were given the use of a compensation approach to therapy. This compensation approach, however, did not address the actual problem of unusable legs, it rather strengthened the rest of the body to “compensate”. However, this approach does not target the actual muscles that required the therapy in question.

Through Dr. Behrman’s research, she studied and tested the uniquely target recovery of pre-morbid movement patterns of development of movement patterns.

This contrast served as a basis for her paradigm-shift themed lecture, providing an easily applicable fundamental lesson to be taken by even the most uninterested audience members.

Dr. Timothy Dowling

Dowling_smallProfessor at the Department of Atmospheric Science at UofL

Topic: Close Encounter with Jupiter

Synopsis: Prof. Dowling studies planetary atmospheres and specializes in atmospheric dynamics and thermodynamics. He is the Principal Investigator on the development of the EPIC Atmospheric model, funded by NASA and NSF, which is a general circulation model (GCM) designed for planetary applications. EPIC stands for “Explicit Planetary Isentropic Coordinate” and is a leading model for the atmospheres of the gas giants Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. The model can also be used to simulate the atmospheres of terrestrial-class atmospheres, including Venus, Earth, Mars and Titan (a large moon of Saturn with a substantial atmosphere). Some topics Prof. Dowling and his students and postdocs are working on include: Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, thunderstorms on Jupiter and Saturn, jet-stream stability, jet streams in the Martian atmosphere, and the dynamics of vortices and clouds on Uranus and Neptune.

Ming Yu, Ph.D.


Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at UofL

Topic: Materials of Your Future

Synopsis: In her lecture, Dr Ming Yu outlined the research being performed in her lab with UofL’s Condensed Matter Theory Group. In her research Dr. Yu uses advanced computer simulation at the atomic level to examine the properties and functions of materials before they are fabricated.

As a frame for her research she examined the molecular properties of carbon based nano-structures including carbon nanotubes, bucky-diamond carbon clusters, and graphene sheets. Research was conducted on the structure and function of those nano-structures, and successfully researched methods of fabrication of these materials from bulk graphene.

Using models found in research on carbon nanostructures, Dr. Yu then began research on a material that has been found to have major implications in the field of material science, silicon carbide (SiC). Through computer simulation and many trials and examinations, it was found that the same structures that can be formed from carbon can also be fabricated from SiC. Through trials where the stability of various SiC nanostructures, Dr. Yu was able to successfully simulate various stable SiC nanostructures and has advanced methods of fabrication of these nano-structures from bulk SiC.

These materials being fabricated are valued for their unique properties including strength, ductility, and semiconductive properties that bulk materials fail to reach.

Chad Samuelsen, Ph.D.


Assistant Professor at the Department of Anatomical Sciences & Neurobiology at UofL

Topic: The Science of Taste

Synopsis: The lecture, which outlined the work being done at Dr. Samuelson’s lab, examined the connection between stimuli of the gustatory (taste) and olfactory (smell) systems, and human perception of flavor. The research conducted used multi-electrode examination of the brains of rats, specifically on the primary cortical area for taste, the gustatory cortex, and the primary cortical area for smell, the olfactory cortex.

The rats’ brain activity was measured for responses following various flavors and smells were dispensed via retronasal injection. It was concluded that the gustatory cortex, traditionally known only to respond to stimuli of taste, respond also to smell and a combination of both, defining the gustatory system as the prime cortical area for flavor.

In addition to the examination of taste, Dr. Samuelson also examined the connection between the gustatory cortex and palatability, the agreeability or adversity to one’s palette. By training the rats to expect a certain taste through auditory or olfactory stimuli, a process often examined in nature, he found that the gustatory cortex not only senses taste, it also codes the brain to expect or predict flavor after having experiences with that flavor before.

The lecture expanded, through audience questions, to explore possible applications of such research including using increased understanding of human psychology to edit the coding to palatability. This level of control, if properly examined, could curb the growing issue of obesity and have limitless other applications in the pharmaceutical and food industries.