UW Research

October 16, 2023

Three Faculty Chosen for the Washington Research Foundation Ronald S. Howell Distinguished Faculty Fellowship

Three faculty have been selected as the inaugural cohort of the Washington Research Foundation – Ronald S. Howell Distinguished Faculty FellowshipEndowed in honor of WRF’s longtime CEO Ron Howell, the purpose of this fellowship is to catalyze the careers of early‐career faculty in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Recipients are selected based on having:

  • a teaching and research emphasis in neuroscience fields (such as neurobiology, neurocomputation and neuroengineering, or other related subdisciplines);
  • a record of research, teaching, service and/or outreach reflects a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion; and
  • a collaborative mindset and the capacity to bridge disciplines and domains.

WRF Inaugural Cohort

This cohort reflects the breadth of outstanding neuroscience work at UW, with a faculty member from each of the College of Arts & Sciences, College of Engineering and School of Medicine. Awardees are:

Gabe Cler, Assistant Professor, Department of Speech & Hearing Sciences
Dr. Cler researches the neurobiology underpinning common developmental speech and language disorders, using human neuroimaging and behavioral assessments to understand the neural basis of these differences. His research is inherently and intentionally collaborative and multidisciplinary; he leverages his academic training in computer science, neuroscience, and communication sciences and disorders, as well as collaborates with engineers, neuroimaging experts, neurosurgeons, psychologists and speech-language pathologists, to address the complexities of his field of study. Dr. Cler’s teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels focuses on the building blocks of communication: How do we produce and perceive language and what happens when using your voice is difficult? DEI is a core value for Dr. Cler, who has a special focus on gender diversity that suffuses his research, teaching and service. His lab includes students from communication science, neuroscience and data science, and it centers those with identities that have historically been underrepresented in research.

Sam Golden, Assistant Professor in the Department of Biological Structure, member of the UW Center for Excellence in the Neurobiology of Addiction, Pain and Emotion.
Dr. Golden leads a vibrant, productive, diverse and inclusive lab that integrates cutting-edge technologies including chemogenetics, optogenetics, calcium imaging, electrophysiological recording, and whole-mount light-sheet fluorescent microscopy to investigate the neural circuits guiding affiliative and aggressive social motivation in novel preclinical models of neuropsychiatric disease. He is an emerging leader in his field, having received prestigious young investigator awards, and he serves on several journal editorial boards. He is a committed and innovative mentor, focusing on his trainees’ academic and professional development as well as their wellness. He helps lead his department’s DEI efforts and his lab hosts underrepresented-minority high school and undergraduate students. Countless faculty and trainees have benefited from Dr. Golden’s strong collaborative nature and his expertise in microscopy and behavioral assays. His lab is a hub for light sheet fluorescence microscopy applications across the UW, and his novel open-source computational behavioral analysis platform, SimBA, is used widely.

Amy Orsborn, Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Dr. Orsborn is an interdisciplinary scientist working to understand the principles of sensorimotor learning. Her work integrates concepts from engineering and neuroscience, enabled by her cross-disciplinary training as a physicist and engineer. Dr. Orsborn bridges her computational perspective with pioneering approaches in experimental systems neuroscience, advancing new fundamental knowledge on how neural circuits implement learning computations. Dr. Orsborn’s research strives to shed new light on learning mechanisms in large brain networks, with a goal of improving the ability to manipulate cortical dynamics to treat neural injuries and disorders. She is a highly collaborative faculty member with an impressive track record in securing support from foundations, industry and federal agencies, including several highly selective awards. In addition to her inclusive and welcoming teaching and classroom methods, Dr. Orsborn is working to increase participation in research, including recruiting underrepresented students to work in her own lab. She also works with the Women in Science and Engineering program and co-founded the Women in Neural Engineering group, which aims to advance the careers of women in that field.