I'm a mentor at Weill Cornell Medicine, NYU School of Engineering, and Techstars. My work has been noted in Time Magazine, Wired, BBC, MoMA, Sports Illustrated, and The New York Times.
Over the past 15 years in Brooklyn NY, I've taught robotics and lock picking on my rooftop, lead nighttime inflatable kayak tours of polluted city waterways and grounded submarines, had sword fights on stage at the Metropolitan Opera in front of 3,850 people, and trained and led recruits as a firefighter lieutenant.
In my professional life I've worked with the US EPA, NASA, and DARPA to build underwater robots, search for rare aquatic organisms, and engineer novel neural connectivity. After earning a PhD in neuroscience, I invented a novel method for non-invasively delivering electrical current to the cerebral cortex. This formed the foundation of Halo Neuroscience, a startup I cofounded in 2012, which developed neural augmentation products used by the NFL, NBA, US Olympic Ski Team, and elite military units. In 2017 I cofounded Rocean, a startup merging technology and market forces to reduce household plastic pollution flowing into our oceans. Rocean's technology and products were included in Time Magazine's 100 Best Inventions of 2020, and have the potential to drastically reduce single use plastic water bottle pollution. Halo Neuroscience and Rocean were acquired in 2021.
Spaceflight Life Support and Bospherics by Peter Eckart
Terraforming, the Creating of Habitable Worlds by Martin Beech
Robotics / Electronics:
Understanding Electricity and Electronics by Randy Slone
Mobile Robots, 2nd edition by Jones, Flynn, Seiger
Principles of Digital Design by Daniel Gajski
Robot Builder's Bonanza by Gordon Mccomb
PIC Microcontroller Project Book by John Iovine
Handmade Electronic Music by Nicolas Collins
Digital Electronics for Scientists by Malmstadt / Enke
Hacking, The Art of Exploitation by Jon Erickson
Hacking the XBox by Bunnie Huang
Hacker Disassembling Uncovered by Kris Kaspersky
The Little Black Book of Email Viruses by Mark Allen Ludwig
2600 magazine subscription
Unbelievable by Stacy Horn
The Conscious Universe by Dean Radin
Entangled Minds by Dean Radin
Hauntings and Poltergeists edited by James Houran
Ecology / Physiology:
Botany in a Day by Thomas Elpel
Physiological Plant Ecology by W. Larcher
Biology of Plants by Raven, Evert, Eichhorn
Foundations of Parasitology by Geralrd Schmidt
Biology of Earthworms by Edwards and Lofty
The Other Insect Societies by James Costa
Destructive and Useful Insects by Metcalf
Parasite Rex by Carl Zimmer
The Private Life of Plants by David Attenborough
Life in the Undergrowth by David Attenborough
The Life of Birds by David Attenborough
Life in Cold Blood by David Attenborough
Life on Earth by David Attenborough
Phantoms in the Brain by Ramachandran
The Development of Intersensory Perception by Lewkowitz
Bioelectricity by Suckling
Corticonics by Abeles
Microcircuits by Grillner
Networks of the Brain by Olaf Sporns
The Mutable Brain by Jon Kaas
Neurophysiology of Consciousness by Benjamin Libet
Quest for Consciousness by Christof Koch
The Merging of the Senses by Stein and Meredith
Behavior and its Neural Control in Gastropod Molusks by Ronald Chase
Animal Bodies, Human Minds
Suffer and Survive by Martin Goodman
Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl
Seaworthy by T.R. Pearson
The Heart of the Arctic by Ernest Shackleton
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing
We Die Alone: A WWII Epic of Escape and Endurance by David Howarth
Sedminentary Geology by Prothero, Schwab
Earth's Climate Past and Future by Ruddman
Introduction to Quantum Mechanics by David Griffiths
My research has focused on neural engineering involving both invasive and non-invasive techniques.
A) Invasive Techniques:
Creating novel neural connectivity in the brain to facilitate natural learning beyond inherent abilities, and directly implanting new skills into the brain, and/or deleting existing skills. The former has involved tissue & materials engineering, while the latter has involved electrophysiological 'programming' and pharmacological manipulation of the neural connections which store 'muscle memories' in the brain.
I. Creating Artificial Synesthesia Connections:
The brain's long distance connections ('white matter') are thouight to perform a fundamental role in the differences between cognitive abilities between species. These connections cannot be as easily modified by experience as shorter, more local connections ('grey matter'). Because of this, the engineering of white matter must instead rely on the physical creation of new connections via tissue engineering. Our studies involving the creation of artificial white matter connections via both 1) the creation of hydrogel tunnels embedded with dissociated neurons and 2) the grafting of degenerated peripheral nerves into brain tissue. Peripheral nerves grafted between seperate regions of the sensory cortex facilitate growth of novel axonal connectivity between these regions, creating a synesthetic effect (hand sensory region responding equaly well to whisker stimulation).
II. Programming New 'Muscle Memories':
The learning of new 'muscle memories' takes a great deal of time and effort and can therefore be limited more by behavioral factors than brain circuit capabilities and capacities. Muscle memories are refered to as sensorimotor memories in the neurobiology field. This is because they all involve first a sensing of ones environment and then an appropriate reaction to that sensory information. To advance the possibility of being able to instantaneously program new skills directly into the brain we attempted to modulate the weights of existing synaptic connections between the sensory (input) and motor (output) cortex. Using patterns of electrical microstimulation in both brain regions we successfully enhanced the strength of connectivity between specific, localized regions of the sensory and motor cortex. This is the first time that such an artificial manipulation of synaptic strength between the sensory and motor cortex has been shown. Future studies will acertain the degree to which these induced changes result in behavioral correlates.
III. Deleting Existing 'Muscle Memories' & Sensory Maps:
In order to program new memories into the brain it may be useful in the future to delete existing memories, in order to free up limited neural real estate. We performed studies using ZIP, a drug which interferes with a protein thought to be highly involved in the storage of memories. ZIP deleted recently learned, and distantly learned sensorimotor memories, but allowed normal relearning of these memories afterwards, suggesting that no damage was done to the brain. In electrophysiological experiments it was observed that ZIP disrupted both natural response properties of the sensory cortex as well as sensory map boundaries.
B) NonInvasive Techniques:
While invasive techniques allow micromanipulation of neural circuitry, noninvasive techniques are advantageous as they facilitate system-wide effects. Non-invasive techniques that we've utilized include low current electrical stimulation (transcranial direct current stimulation, tDCS), low power magnetic stimulation (transcranial static magnetic field stimulation, tSMS), and behavioral influence techniques, such as embodied cognition, and virtual reality. Our past research with tDCS has shown significant results in augmenting sensorimotor abilities, and currently ongoing research using tSMS and behavioral techniques are returning encouraging results. There is currently very little understanding of how to to modify one's own self. Our goal is to develop non-invasive techniques which will fascilitate one's own chosen personal change.