Paul Holcomb, graduate student in Dr. George Spirou’s lab at the West Virginia University Center for Neuroscience and reigning WVU Science Idol, will present “The BRAIN Initiative: Computers, Connectomes and the Emergence of Technobiology,” as part of the David C. Hardesty Jr. Festival of Ideas on Jan. 21.

His talk begins at 7:30 p.m. at The Erickson Alumni Center. It is free and open to the public. No tickets are required.

The newly launched BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative is a 10-year, $1 billion grand challenge to better understand the human brain. Much like the scientific knowledge gained from the Human Genome Project greatly expanded our knowledge of human biology, the BRAIN Initiative has the potential to drastically increase our understanding of the human mind.

As a researcher in the field of connectomics, Holcomb’s talk will outline how researchers aim to tackle this large-scale problem, the technology that is needed and what scientists hope to gain, especially in the areas of learning and memory, stroke recovery and treatment of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Holcomb is originally from Charleston and attended South Charleston High School. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, his research interests include brain-machine interfacing, development of the auditory system, neural plasticity and computational neuroscience. He is currently working to obtain a Ph.D. in neuroscience, as well as a certificate in STEM education, both from WVU.

He is married to Micky Holcomb, assistant professor in the WVU Department of Physics and Astronomy. They have two children, Colin and Isabel.

Festival of Ideas is an annual speaker series that hosts high-profile intellectuals and public figures—along with WVU’s own academic superstars—in a series of lectures that engage the university community in important issues of the day. It’s organized by the Office of University Events.

For more information, visit and follow the conversation on Twitter at #wvuideas.



CONTACT: Liz Dickinson, Office of University Events

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