Wired for research

Aug. 17, 2023

A biomedical engineering student explores how the brain processes speech syntax—and discovers the benefits of conducting research as an undergraduate.

In a laboratory at the University of Rochester’s Center for Advanced Brain Imaging & Neurophysiology (CABIN), Sophea Urbi Biswas ’24 pores over brain wave signals recorded from a person listening to an audiobook next door. Biswas, a senior biomedical engineering student from Bangladesh, is attempting to see if the syntactic features of the words and phrases the participant listens to are reflected in the waves picked up by the electroencephalography (EEG) cap they wear.

Biswas earned a Schwartz Discover Grant that allowed her to spend the summer in an immersive, full-time research experience to enhance her competitiveness for future fellowships and other advanced research opportunities. After taking a class on biosystems and circuits taught by Edmund Lalor, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Neuroscience and member of the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience, they had a conversation about the research he conducts and the projects his lab was planning, and he invited her to join his research team.

Edmund Lalor discusses EEG findings with Sophea Biswas.

Photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester


“I think the teams feels a lot of excitement taking on junior students who want to learn more,” says Lalor. “I like to provide undergraduate students the opportunity to experience research. It’s hard work, there are a lot of ups and downs and disappointing days, but it’s very gratifying when they get interested in it. And we’re helping to propel the next crop of graduate students, postdocs, and ultimately professors forward.”

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