People

Co-founders/Principal Investigators

Michael Levin portrait

Michael Levin

Michael Levin is the Vannevar Bush Professor of Biology at Tufts University, where he directs the Allen Discovery Research Center, and associate faculty at Harvard University’s Wyss Institute. Levin and his colleagues use developmental biophysics, cognitive science, and computational modeling approaches to understand tissue plasticity, especially focused on bioelectrical information processing in non-neural cell networks. They were the first to create molecular and computational tools to probe the bioelectric software that guide tissue-level decision-making in the body during embryogenesis and regeneration, and to show how non-genetic information guides top-down control of anatomical structure. Among the many potential applications of this work are limb regeneration, tumor reprogramming, and birth defect repair. Levin’s work has been included in Nature’s list of ‘100 Milestones of Developmental Biology of the Century’. Recent honors include the Scientist of Vision award and the Distinguished Scholar Award.

twitter Follow on Twitter

Josh Bongrad

Josh Bongard

Josh Bongard is the Veinott Professor of Computer Science at the University of Vermont and the director of the Morphology, Evolution & Cognition Laboratory. His work involves computational approaches to the automated design and manufacture of soft-, evolved-, and crowdsourced robots, as well as computer-designed organisms. The vision of the Bongard group is to create generally intelligent machines, using the tools of crowdsourcing, embodied cognition, and computational evolution. A PECASE, TR35, and Microsoft New Faculty Fellow award recipient, he has received funding from NSF, NASA, DARPA, the U.S. Army Research Office and the Sloan Foundation. He served as director of the Vermont Advanced Computing Core, Vermont’s high-performance computing facility. In addition to many peer-reviewed journal and conference publications, he is the author of the book How the Body Shapes the Way We Think. He runs an evolutionary robotics MOOC through reddit.com and a robotics outreach program, Twitch Plays Robotics.

twitter Follow on Twitter

Team Members

Douglas Blackiston

Douglas Blackiston

Douglas Blackiston is a Senior Scientist in the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University where his research program has the overarching goal of understanding developmental plasticity – the response of cell populations to alterations in patterning, local environment, and signaling from neighboring tissues. His work encompasses many diverse questions and models, from the ability of memory to survive metamorphosis in moths and butterflies, to the capacity of transplanted eyes to restore vision in blind vertebrates. As part of the team that created computer-designed organisms, he developed the biological components of the work, including the techniques, protocols, and methods to bring the simulated designs to life. He is a Cozzarelli prize recipient, and his research has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, BBC World News, the Guardian, and as an exhibit in the Design Museum of London.

twitter Follow on Twitter

Former Team Members

Sam Kriegman

Sam Kriegman

Sam Kriegman is now an assistant professor at Northwestern University. His research draws inspiration from the origin and subsequent evolution of life, and applies the underlying mechanisms of self-organization (“order for free”) and natural selection (“survival of the fittest”) to the creation of novel autonomous machines: robots, in all manner of shapes and sizes, that act on their own, without remote control. These machines can in some cases perform useful work, or they may be used as scientific tools to understand how animals evolve, grow, move, sense, and think. A Cozzarelli Prize recipient, he is the co-creator of the world’s first computer-designed organisms (“xenobots”), co-developer of the ultra-low-cost soft robot kit Voxcraft, and a leading expert on AI-driven design as applied to robotics and biology.

twitter Follow on Twitter