Fidel Santamaria, Ph.D.
Ph.D. in Neuroscience; California Institute of Technology
B.S. in Physics; National Autonomous University of Mexico
Dr. Sanatmaria is a computational neuroscientist with two main lines of work. The first one is to understand how the cerebellum processes and stores information. In particular, he studies a really beautiful neuron called the Purkinje cell. His second line of research is very theoretical. Here his interest is to understand how the engram, the physical foundation of memory, is implemented by the interaction of processes spanning multiple scales of biological organization, from molecules to neuronal networks. For this he uses fractional order differential equations, a branch of mathematics that is the natural language to describe complex systems.
Dr. Sanatmaria's long term objective is to combine theory, modeling, and experiments to understand how the cerebellum computes information; develop closed-loop systems for neuronal control, particularly those associated with deep brain stimulation; and neuromorphic devices for the solution of real-time complex signal analysis for brain machine interfaces.
In Dr. Sanatmaria's lab, people can be trained in modeling, electrophysiology, and imaging. The modeling uses all available resources, from ready to use software to the lab's own algorithms. They run their simulations in local servers, computer clusters, super-computers, and even the cloud.
The experimental work that the lab performs requires performing intracellular recordings in live neurons in vitro. These recordings can be done also using fluorescent markers to then be visualized in a two-photon microscope. With this approach, the lab can control and monitor the electrical activity of the neuron while also visualizing biochemical signals in its complex dendrites. Ideally, all students in the lab should combine modeling and experimentation for their work.