Konkle appointed director of Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative

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Talia Konkle, professor of psychology and leading vision scientist, has been named faculty director of the Mind Brain Behavior (MBB) Interfaculty Initiative.

“I am delighted that Talia Konkle has agreed to serve as the next director of the Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative,” said Vice Provost for Research John Shaw, whose office oversees MBB along with a large cadre of other interfaculty initiatives. “Talia is an exemplary scholar whose intellectual leadership in neuroscience and commitment to multidisciplinary research make her an ideal choice for supporting and advancing the work of the initiative.”

“I also want to extend my thanks to Alfonso Caramazza for his dedicated leadership over the past 14 years, both in continuing to develop the center’s vision and its opportunities for innovation,” said Shaw.

Over the course of Caramazza’s tenure as director, MBB continued the tradition of encouraging faculty interactions and collaboration across the various disciplines committed to understanding the workings of the mind and brain through Faculty Interest Groups. A major development was the institution of a post-doctoral funding program for interdisciplinary research and a highly successful and much loved undergraduate MBB summer school program at the University of Trento, Italy.

Konkle is a vision scientist and computational neuroscientist whose research aims to understand how humans see and make sense of the visual world. Her research characterizes the organization of the human visual system, articulating through computational models how visual information is transformed from patterned light into useful high-level formats that support our ability to manipulate objects, navigate the broader environment, interact with other agents, and simply to learn more about the world by looking. She takes a multidisciplinary approach, using a combination of behavioral techniques, human functional neuroimaging, computational modeling, and machine learning approaches to characterize representational spaces of the mind and discover how they are mapped onto the surface of the brain.

Konkle is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Center for Brain Science and an associate faculty member at the Kempner Institute for Natural and Artificial Intelligence. She served as an assistant professor at Harvard since 2015 before being promoted to a fully tenured professor in January 2023. She is the author of several highly regarded publications on neuroscience and vision studies, and in 2023 she was awarded the Lila R. Gleitman Award for Early-Career Contributions to Cognitive Science. Konkle received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from MIT and completed her undergraduate work in Cognitive Science and Applied Mathematics with Computer Science at the University of California Berkeley.

Her deep dedication to understanding more about how our brain affects our behavior, as well as her commitment to multidisciplinary dialogue, make her well suited to lead MBB for the coming years.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the Mind Brain Behavior Interfaculty Initiative, especially during this time of real interdisciplinary convergence to understand intelligence and human behavior,” said Konkle. “There is genuine excitement about these scientific frontiers, and I look forward to supporting and mobilizing the interdisciplinary MBB community, at all levels from the undergraduates through to the faculty.”