Endeavour Research Fellowship for ITR Researcher

What can the brain teach us about information processing? UniSA researcher wins Endeavour support to find out.

Senior Research Fellow at UniSA’s Institute for Telecommunications Research (ITR), Dr Mark McDonnell has been awarded a six-month research fellowship as part of the Australian Government’s Endeavour Awards to discover more about how the structure of our brain may provide a model for information processing.

The competitive, merit-based scholarship program provides opportunities for Australians to undertake study, research and professional development abroad in environments where top research in their field is being undertaken. 

Dr McDonnell will visit the University of British Columbia, Canada, to work with Professor Lawrence Ward and the Brain Research Centre. A specialist in cognitive neuroscience and consciousness, Prof Ward also focuses on neural synchrony and nonlinear dynamical systems theory and their applications in cognitive neuroscience.

Dr McDonnell says he hopes to gain greatly from the important opportunity to work with high calibre international researchers.

“My goal is to develop new computational simulation methods that will shed light on how learning and memory formation in the brain is mediated by complex structural connectivity between networks of different types of neurons in the human cortex,” he said. 

“The brain is an infinitely sophisticated information processor, so the more we improve our understanding of how the brain processes information, the better equipped we’ll be to develop new kinds of artificial intelligence.

“Ultimately we hope the research leads to the development of new methods for biologically-inspired artificial intelligence.”

Director of UniSA’s ITR, Professor Alex Grant said the award recognized the significant contribution made by Dr McDonnell in applying engineering approaches to answer fundamental scientific questions about information processing in neurobiology.

“International collaborations are important to the ITR and Dr McDonnell is making his mark in the international community of researchers who are investigating computational neuroscience,” Professor Grant said. 

“We congratulate Dr McDonnell on his prestigious award and look forward to his continued contribution to this field internationally and here at UniSA.”