Art Wetzel, National Resource for Biomedical Supercomputing, Guest Speaker at Colloquium

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Mathematics and Computer Science Department hosted a colloquium on Friday, January 28, 2011, in Phillips Lecture Hall.  Art Wetzel, National Resource for Biomedical Supercomputing, was the guest speaker; his talk was entitled "Computational Reconstruction of Neural Structures in the Visual Cortex."

The colloquium was attended by faculty and students from the Mathematics and Computer Science Department, as well as from the Biology, Chemistry, and Psychology departments.

ABSTRACT:   Vision is our most powerful sense.  It allows detailed remote sensing with minimal conscious effort.  Although the optical and retinal aspects of visual processing are well understood the mechanisms the visual cortex uses to represent and interpret visual
information are mostly unknown.  As part of a collaboration with Dr. Clay Reid's team at Harvard we have been developing computational techniques to reconstruct fully accurate synaptic level representations of neural structures in mouse visual cortex using tens of TBytes of serial section electron microscopy data.  These image sets, focused on specific cells whose functions were recorded during in vivo experiments, are used to build wiring diagrams of neural connections.  This is a part of the new field of "connectomics" which is trying to produce complete neural wiring diagrams for experimental organisms.  This talk will discuss various computational and biological aspects of this project and related work being done at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's National Resource for Biomedical Supercomputing.

Art Wetzel has a multidisciplinary background spanning various areas of scientific computation.  Art received a BA in chemistry from Thiel College in 1973. He did his doctoral studies at the University of Pittsburgh Department of Information Science where he originated what is now called tournament selection for genetic algorithms.  He has worked at Bell Telephone Laboratories, Pixel Computer Inc and CMU, before joining the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. At PSC he is a principal computer scientist in the National
Resource for Biomedical Supercomputing, working in biomedical imaging for the past 15 years. Aspects of that work are the subject of his talk.

Click image to enlarge.
Art Wetzel