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Brian Kim, an assistant professor in the UCF Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has been recognized by the National Science Foundation with a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award for his research proposal, Superresolution Neurochemical Probe Using Stochastic Neurotransmitter Localization.

The NSF CAREER is a highly-competitive grant awarded to up-and-coming faculty researchers who serve as academic role models in research and education. It is among the most prestigious awards given to early-career faculty by the NSF.

Kim will receive $500,000 over a five-year period to develop a novel technique to monitor neural activity in the brain.

Current methods of capturing brain activity are limited, lacking the ability to read signals from millions of neurons. Kim’s work will help researchers capture this information with a low-cost interface that allows them to see neural activity with higher spatial and temporal resolution.

With more accurate images of the brain’s activity, researchers can better understand neural circuits related to emotion, learning, thinking, remembering and decision-making. The work will impact how neurological disorders are studied, particularly those affected by neurochemicals, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. In addition, Kim’s research will pave the way for improving neuroprosthetics that repair motor control, including artificial limbs, and enhance sensor functions such as vision or hearing.

“This CAREER award will help me work on my long passion in neuroengineering and contribute to the field by generating a new approach to interfacing with the brain. I’m still learning every day and I’m just happy to work closely with my collaborators who are leaders in the field,” Kim said. “With this award, I’m hoping that my research can help elucidate the powerful function of the human brain as well as help those who may suffer from neurological disorders and other brain-related injuries.”

Kim’s research areas include next-generation neural interfaces, neurochemical sensors, single-cell electrophysiology and medical diagnostics. His work has been funded by competitive grants from sponsors, including the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense.

Before joining UCF, Kim was a senior electrical engineer at Stratos Genomics (now Roche Diagnostics). He completed his Ph.D. in biophysics at Cornell University and received his postdoctoral training in bioengineering at the University of California, Berkeley.