The experience. Advanced courses in physics such

The 20th century witnessed paradigm shifts in physics in the form of quantum mechanics and relativity. They deepened our understanding of the physical world and helped in the development of novel technologies like transistors and computers. Advances in computing infrastructure and better technologies derived in the ensuing years have proven to be potent tools in further advancing our understanding of fundamental physics. I believe that the 21st century will see major breakthroughs in neuroscience and will entail a similar positive feedback between neuroscience and emerging neurotechnologies.  To me, neuroscience is amongst the last frontiers in biology, within whose larger folds lies opportunities to explore both fundamental questions unanswered in the field as well as application and translation of our evolving understanding of neuroscience to the development of sophisticated neurotechnology aiding human life. I am, therefore, motivated to pursue a research career in the interdisciplinary field of neural engineering. Specifically, my interests lie in computational/theoretical neuroscience, brain-computer interface and neuroprosthetics. Pursuing an MS in biomedical engineering at Boston University would provide the perfect opportunity for me to get involved in this research. My fascination and curiosity with the physical world since early years of schooling led me to pursue my undergraduate degree in Engineering Physics at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, the most prestigious engineering school in India. Through my course of study, I developed a deep understanding of the fundamental physics behind nanomaterials and nanodevices through various courses and laboratory experience.  Advanced courses in physics such as Statistical Mechanics, Nonlinear Dynamics, Quantum Mechanics along with research projects in theoretical physics required me to master many areas of undergraduate mathematics and have helped me develop strong analytical skills. A byproduct of this is fluency in reading technical literature from various fields involving mathematical abstraction like theoretical/computational neuroscience. In addition, courses in organic and inorganic chemistry, biology, molecular biophysics, and physiology have laid the foundation for pursuing interdisciplinary research.I have also had an exposure to electrical engineering through courses and labs in analog/digital electronics and microcontrollers which I thoroughly enjoyed. To apply my knowledge to practical use, I started working at IIT Bombay Racing (a student team designing and manufacturing an electric car for the international event Formula Student UK organized by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, IMechE).My role was to design(using EAGLE) and run simulations(in LTspice) of the circuits required for the control safety system of the car. I also built prototypes of the circuit boards and tested each of the modules and error blocks.  As my role involved gathering and integrating data from various sensors placed in the car, I worked closely with team members from different subsystems of the electrical and mechanical divisions of the team. Experience with IITB Racing taught me a great deal about collaborative effort in interdisciplinary engineering projects. In my fourth year, I decided to explore the field of biophysics and took up a project under the guidance of Prof. Raghunath Chelakkot which involved computational modeling of molecular motors to study their effects on neurodegenerative diseases.This was my first contact with neuroscience. I performed monte carlo simulations of in-vitro motility assay systems to study the dynamics of microtubules driven by kinesin motors. Through this project, I realized the significance of computers in predicting the behavior of biological systems using mathematical models that best fit the system. Also, studying the neurodegenerative diseases made me wonder about the fragility and vulnerability of an organ that was solely responsible for writing human history as we know it.This led me to further explore the field of neuroscience. During the following summer, I participated in an online course in computational neuroscience, offered by the University of Washington, and started exploring a range of literature discussing neuroscience and neurotechnologies. One of the major influences was the book titled ‘Confessions of a romantic reductionist’ written by Christoph Koch, a physicist turned neuroscientist. The impact of these excursions was two-fold. First, it engendered further interest in this field and helped me take a decision to study more about the brain in an academic setting. Second, I realized that a significant portion of neuroscience is interdisciplinary and was exposed to the ways in which I can contribute to it with my background in physics and engineering, especially through computational and mathematical modeling.  The following semester, I enrolled in the courses ‘Biopotentials’ and ‘neuromorphic engineering’. In these courses, I learned in great detail how neurons generate action potentials and process, learn and store information. I also simulated spiking neural networks implementing learning rules and developed an understanding of neuromorphic architecture and hardware. As a part of the course project, I applied my knowledge of non-linear dynamics to examine chaotic behavior in Izhikevich neuron models. Further, I created a neural network in a ring-like topology and observed interesting synchronous behavior when it was stimulated by a transient current. I am presently continuing this work and hope to find applications in biological systems and liquid state machines.For my master’s project, I am working in the Computational Neurophysiology Lab at the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering under the guidance of Prof. Rohit Manchanda. I have embarked upon a journey to explain the peristaltic movements in the gut through computational modeling. I performed detailed physiological modeling of the Interstitial cells of Cajal(ICC) and aim to couple networks of ICC with smooth muscle cells of the gut to explain peristalsis. Through the course of the project, I have achieved high proficiency in NEURON, a platform widely used in computational neuroscience to model biologically realistic neural networks. I have also gained a deep understanding of biophysical modeling of single cells and networks of excitable cells. Various conversations with my mentors and discussions with the group members at the neurophysiology lab have contributed in shaping my decision to pursue a master’s degree in neuroengineering.To gain a deeper understanding of neuroengineering, I have enrolled in the courses of ‘Motor Control in Health and Disease’, ‘Cellular Electricity’ and ‘Human cognitive processes’ in the current semester. I will also be participating in an intensive, one week course on neuroengineering being conducted at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur by Prof. Nitish Thakor starting 15th January.   The USA has been at the forefront of research in biomedical engineering with its tremendous interdisciplinary research centers. Cutting-edge research by world-class professors and state of the art research facilities have motivated me to apply to the Boston University. The curriculum of MS program would tailor to my interests in Neuroengineering and will better prepare me to pursue research work. I plan to complete the MS program with the ‘thesis track’ option and am keen on pursuing research with the professors at the biomedical engineering department.I am interested in Prof. Kechen Zhang’s research in theoretical neuroscience, which is compatible with my background. Prof. Sridevi Sarma’s research in Brain-machine interface for motor control, computational modeling of DH circuit for analyzing chronic pain, and investigations into memory is also exciting. The work being done in speech processing and production by Prof. Xiaoquin Wang and the development of ‘neural-chips’ and implantable electronics by Prof. Nitish Thakor is also alluring to me.Having an MSE degree in Biomedical Engineering would open opportunities for me to pursue research in industry and also act as a stepping stone for a Ph.D. in this field. I intend to approach the future positively and in conclusion, I must say that I would regard my admission to this program not only as a great honor and success but also as an obligation for hard work and see it as the next step in the pursuit of knowledge.