Ila Fiete, PI

Ila Fiete is a Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and an Associate Member of the McGovern Institute at MIT. She obtained her undergraduate degrees in Physics and Mathematics at the University of Michigan and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Physics at Harvard, under the guidance of Sebastian Seung at MIT. Her postdoctoral work was at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara, and at Caltech, where she was a Broad Fellow. She was subsequently on the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin in the Center for Learning and Memory. Ila Fiete is an HHMI Faculty Scholar. She has been a CIFAR Senior Fellow, a McKnight Scholar, an ONR Young Investigator, an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow and a Searle Scholar.

Manyi Yim


I joined the Fiete lab as a postdoctoral research fellow in 2017, jointly supervised by Thibaud Taillefumier at the University of Texas at Austin. I obtained my PhD in Computational Neuroscience at the Bernstein Center Freiburg, Germany. My research interests lie in understanding the functions of brain circuits as well as neural correlates of cognition based on experimental data, and developing models and theories to decipher the underlying mechanisms. Currently, I am exploring how spatial information is represented in the hippocampal-entorhinal circuit using mathematical and computational approaches.

Leenoy Meshulam


I am interested in how populations of neurons coordinate their activity to perform coherent computations and execute functions. I have worked on developing theoretical approaches from statistical physics to better understand the collective activity in hippocampus.  I received my PhD from Princeton University, advised by William Bialek, David Tank and Carlos Brody. I came to the U.S. from Israel, where I completed my M.Sc with Eshel Ben-Jacob and Ari Barzilai summa cum laude, studying physics and biology in the Lautman honors program of Tel Aviv University. Other than science, I love hiking outdoors and playing the piano.

Mirko Klukas


I am a postdoctoral researcher originally from Cologne, Germany. The core of my research is a combination of mathematics, neuroscience, and computer science. My current focus lies on spatial representations in the brain, and their role in more general cognitive computations and intelligence. More concretely I am interested in how self localization and planning is performed in the hippocampal formation and how this can inform us about computations in the neocortex. My background however lies in pure mathematics in the field of geometric and differential topology – contact and symplectic topology for what it’s worth. Believe me, it sounds worse than it actually is 🙂

Before I joined the Fiete group in April 2019, I worked at Numenta, a private research lab with a focus on cortical theory. Before that I was a postdoc at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria and the University of Cologne

Mikail Khona

Graduate Student

I am a graduate student in the Department of Physics at MIT, originally from Mumbai, India. I studied physics and math in my undergrad and worked on several problems in biophysics and quantitative biology broadly, ranging from the hydrodynamics of active media to optimal decision making in C. elegans. After coming to MIT, following rotations in the Physics of Living Systems group, I got interested in theoretical neuroscience and joined the Fiete lab in 2019.

Sugandha Sharma

Graduate Student

I am interested in exploring the computational and theoretical principles underlying cognition and intelligence in the human brain. My previous work includes building neural models of context dependent decision making in the prefrontal cortex and spiking neuron models of bayesian inference (based on online learning of priors from life experience). I am currently exploring the coding principles in the hippocampal circuits implicated in spatial navigation, and their role in cognitive computations like structure learning and relational reasoning.

Before joining the Fiete lab, I was at the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience, University of Waterloo (UW) where I completed my MASc with Dr. Chris Eliasmith, studying Systems Design Engineering and Theoretical Neuroscience. Before that, I studied Electrical Engineering during my Undergrad at UW. 

Rylan Schaeffer

Master’s Student

I’m a Master’s student in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences IACS program. I joined the lab from Uber, where I worked as a data scientist under Andrea Pasqua on anomaly detection and time series forecasting and placed third in the company-wide multi-week machine learning hackathon.

I am interested in a broad range of questions within theoretical neuroscience. One long term goal is motivated by the apparent discrepancy that while the recent deep learning renaissance has recapitulated diverse behavioral and neural experimental findings and produced cognitive-like capabilities that we know no other artificial mechanism for producing, deep artificial networks fail outside extremely limited domains, display critical deviations from their biological cousins and remain poorly understood black boxes that rarely yield predictions to direct experimental work. My goal is to develop a better scientific theory of deep neural networks to resolve these discrepancies and improve the usefulness of artificial networks in bridging cognitive and systems neuroscience.

Akhilan Boopathy

Graduate Student

I’m a graduate student in the EECS department at MIT. I studied as an undergrad in EECS at MIT and did research focusing on quantifying and enhancing adversarial robustness of artificial neural networks as well as investigating biologically plausible learning algorithms for neural networks. I am broadly interested in the intersection of machine learning and neuroscience, particularly with the question of making artificial neural networks more aligned with biological neural networks. I hope progress in these directions will allow artificial neural networks to be applied to more general and challenging tasks.

Group Alumni

Tzuhsuan Ma, Postdoc, HHMI/Janelia

Rishidev Chaudhuri, Assistant Professor, UC Davis

Ingmar Kanitscheider, Research Scientist, OpenAI

Christopher Roth, Graduate student, UT Austin

Berk Gercek (undergrad), Graduate student, University of Geneva

Biraj Pandey (undergrad), Graduate student, University of Washington

Maxwell Gray (undergrad), Graduate student, University of Washington

Abhranil Das, Graduate student, UT Austin

Birgit Kriener, Research scientist, University of Oslo, Norway

Kijung Yoon, Assistant Professor, Hanyang University, Korea

John Widloski
, Postdoctoral researcher, UC Berkeley

Michael Buice, Senior scientist, Allen Institute

Yongseok Yoo, Assistant Professor, Incheon National University, Korea

Abhinav Singh, Data scientist, Peak, UK

Daniel Robles Llana,
Postdoc, University of Geneva

Ila Varma (from Caltech group), Assistant Professor, UC San Diego

Prashant Joshi (from Caltech group), Head, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning group, Fractal Analytics, India

Ni Ji
(from Caltech group), Postdoc, MIT

Peter Welinder
(from Caltech group), Senior Scientist, OpenAI