Principal Investigator

Dong Song

Dong Song is Research Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, and Director of the USC Neural Modeling and Interface Laboratory. His research interests include nonlinear dynamical modeling of the nervous system, hippocampal memory prosthesis, neural interface technologies, and development of novel modeling strategies incorporating both mechanistic and input-output modeling methods. He received his B.S. degree in Biophysics from the University of Science and Technology of China in 1994, and his Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 2004. He became a Research Assistant Professor in 2006, and a Research Associate Professor in 2013, at the Department of Biomedical Engineering, USC. He received the James H. Zumberge Individual Award at USC in 2008, the Outstanding Paper Award of IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering in 2013, and the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics Young Investigator Award in 2018. He is a member of American Statistical Association, Biomedical Engineering Society, IEEE, Society for Neuroscience, Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics, Organization for Computational Neurosciences, and National Academy of Inventors. Dr. Song’s research is supported by DARPA, NSF, and NIH.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Huijing Xu

Huijing Xu received her Ph. D. in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California in 2019. After receiving her BS in Biomedical Engineering from Shanghai JiaoTong University, she continued studying in this field at USC and developed her interests in Neural Engineering and cortical prostheses. In 2011, she joined the Center for Neural Engineering (CNE) where she works under the direction of Professor T. W. Berger and Professor Dong Song. Her research focuses on the development of novel neural interfacing techniques and the understanding of the function of the hippocampus in memory processing. Specifically, she works on the design and development of conformal multi-electrode arrays that can recording neural activities from multiple sub-regions of the hippocampus simultaneously from behaving animals and to conduct behavioral experiments to study the information transformation within the hippocampus tri-synaptic circuit.

Xiang Zhang

Xiang Zhang completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Electronic Information and Communications at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in 2013. He then obtained his Master of Philosophy in Electronic and Computer Engineering from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) in 2016, followed by a Doctor of Philosophy in the same field from HKUST in 2022. After that, he joined the Computational Cognitive Engineering Lab at HKUST as a postdoctoral researcher in 2023. He currently works as a research associate at the USC Neural Modeling and Interface Lab.

His research interest is applying interpretable computational models to brain-machine interfaces, including reinforcement learning, kernel method, transfer learning, and state-observation model.

Ph.D. Students

Bryan Moore

Bryan Moore earned dual-degrees in Biochemistry and Philosophy at Virginia Tech. He attended medical school and earned his MD at the Medical College of Virginia at Virginia Commonwealth University. He completed a clinical Neurology residency at NYU and a clinical Neurocritical Care fellowship at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where he concurrently completed a post-doc research fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania Computational Memory Lab. After fellowships, he joined the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor (Affiliate) in the Department of Neurology with a clinical appointment at Hennepin County Medical Center as a Staff Neurointensivist and Medical Director of Stroke. Dr Moore is boarded in Neurology and in Neurocritical Care. He completed a Masters in Information and Data Science (MIDS) at the University of California, Berkeley before joining the Neural Modeling and Interface Lab at USC as a graduate research fellow. His current research is towards a PhD in Biomedical Engineering. He is also completing a Masters in Computer Science at USC. His current research involves using deep learning to capture the nonlinear functions that guide spike transformations between layers of neurons in the human brain. His research interests include both applied machine learning and theoretical machine learning, including using biologically-inspired novel algorithm techniques in deep learning.

He is the proud owner of three cats.

Zhouxiao Lu

Zhouxiao Lu is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She graduated with a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and a minor in neuroscience from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2020. Zhouxiao had experience in animal experiments and is interested in neurotechnology, especially brain-machine interfaces. She enjoys circuit design, hardware programming, and signal processing. Zhouxiao is passionate about the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease.

In her leisure time, Zhouxiao enjoys cooking, hanging out with friends, and playing video games.

Chenlin Xu

Chenlin Xu is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California and joined the lab in 2022 as research assistant. He received a B.Eng. degree in Chemical Engineering from Harbin Engineering University in China and the M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from Duke University in US. His current research focus on using machine learning to build large-scale hippocampal model to study cognitive functions and develop novel brain- inspired algorithm. He has keen interest in AI, neurotechnology, and all kinds of topics pertain to bioelectronics. Outside the lab, he enjoys playing piano, strategy games, road trip, reading, and acting in theater.

Chen Sun

Chen Sun is a Ph.D. student in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California, who joined the lab as a research assistant in 2023. Chen earned his H.B.Sc. in Computer Science with an AI focus from Queen’s University, Canada in 2022 and subsequently researched biologically-inspired evolutionary algorithms for spiking neural networks at the university's Machine Intelligence & Biocomputing (MIB) Laboratory. Currently, His research focuses on modeling the hippocampal signal transformation to identify neural population dynamics and plasticity, from spiking activities recorded in animals during learning and established behaviors. Chen's broadar research interests lie in computational neuroscience, neuromorphic computing, and continuous learning.

Chen also enjoys playing D&D, tennis, squash, and guitar.

Zihan Jin

Zihan Jin is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. She earned her B.S. degree in Theoretical and Applied Mechanics from SUSTech, China, in 2020, and her M.S. degree in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 2023. Her current research focuses on LTSP-induced behavioral paradigms and MEA recording to develop a combined experimental-modeling approach for identifying neural population dynamics and plasticity. Zihan has experience in behavioral experiments and is undergoing training in rodent surgery, micro-electrode implantation, and MEA recording under the mentorship of Professor Dong Song and Dr. Huijing Xu. Additionally, she has acquired skills in MIMO modeling, spike sorting, and data analysis to support her work in developing behavioral paradigms and processing MEA recordings. Her motivation stems from a desire to help people suffering from neurological disorders by restoring and enhancing their memory function.

Wooseong Choi

Wooseong Choi is an MD-PhD student at the University of Southern California. He received his undergraduate degree in molecular and cellular biology from Vanderbilt University. His research in the lab focuses on revealing the mechanisms of transcranial magnetic stimulation and optimizing this neuromodulatory technique for restoring cognitive function. He aspires to become a neurosurgeon who can bring advancements in neural engineering to patients with neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Master's Students

Lawrence Bowens

Lawrence Bowens is a graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. His academic journey began at California State University, San Bernardino, where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry in 2018. During his first year as a master’s student, he was given the opportunity to serve as a Graduate Student Researcher at USC's Keck School of Medicine, where he contributed to research on an ocular thermoresponsive hydrogel. His current interest lies in improving the biocompatibility and efficiency of neural interfaces. After earning his master’s degree, he intends to pursue a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering to further his academic journey and contribute more to the field of neural engineering.

Outside of the lab, he stays active in the gym and enjoys the outdoors. He also likes to play guitar, videogames, and Dungeons & Dragons.

Junshi Chen

Junshi Chen is a graduate student currently enrolled in the Master of Neuroimaging and Informatics program at the University of Southern California (USC). He earned his B. S. degree in Neuroscience from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2023 and Magna Cum Laude in Psychology. Upon completion of his master's degree, he aspires to further his academic pursuits by enrolling in a Ph.D. program in Computational Neuroscience. His ultimate academic goal is to make substantial contributions to the field of neural engineering.

Outside of his academic, he maintains a balanced lifestyle by participating in physical fitness, immersing himself in novels and video gaming for relaxation.

Mark McHugh

Mark McHugh is a dedicated researcher in the field of neural engineering. In 2022, He earned his master’s degree in Biological Engineering from the University of California, Riverside. He specialized in neuroengineering and neuroimaging and plans to lay the foundation to become a leader in the development of cutting-edge neural interface technologies. His passion for understanding and advancing cognitive functions aligns perfectly with the groundbreaking work of the team.

Mark's research interests encompass the development of neural interfaces, exploring brain functions during behavioral tasks, and is particularly drawn to the team's overarching goal of building biomimetic devices to treat neurological disorders. Mark aspires to contribute significantly to the field and is actively working toward achieving a Ph.D in Biomedical Engineering.

Undergraduate Students

Ziyue Zhu

Ziyue Zhu is a Biomedical Engineering (cellular & molecular track) student at the University of Southern California and joined the lab in March of 2022. She is interested in new technologies in biomedical engineering especially brain-machine interfaces. She wishes to pursue a doctoral degree in the field of BME and become a researcher and professor in the future.

Outside the lab, she enjoys singing, playing guitar, and producing.

Vivian Li

Vivian is an undergraduate student studying biomedical engineering with an emphasis in molecular and cellular engineering. Vivian is interested in the computational modeling of the hippocampus and cortical circuit and building neural interfaces. She also has an interest in animal experiment and is intrigued to learn about the connection between animal behaviors and activity inside the brain. She wants to pursue a MD degree in the future and help as many people as she can.

In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with friends, exploring new places, reading, and watching films.

Agatha Shi

Agatha Shi is an undergraduate student at USC studying Neuroscience and minoring in Computer Programming at USC. She joined the lab in August 2022. Agatha is interested in neural circuit mapping and decoding electrophysiological signals of the brain. At USC, she has also been involved with EMG research with USC-ISI, lung cancer research at Keck, and teaching kids about science.

Outside of the lab Agatha also enjoys playing the double bass, watching movies, and exploring the city with friends.

Julia Gloria

Julia Gloria is a Biomedical Engineering student with an Electrical Engineering emphasis. She has previously taken part in research relating to rTMS waves and their effect on helping patients suffering from chronic pelvic pain. In August 2022, she found Dr. Song's lab in search of a more hands on approach to research. Julia is fascinated with the brain, electrical circuits, biomolecular forces, and how they interact with one another. She aims to contribute to the field of neuro-engineering in expanding the capacity for human cognition. She wishes to pursue a Masters degree and eventually go into PhD.

In her spare time, she loves producing and editing videos, teaching people new information, cooking, and playing video games.

Santie Mckenzie

Santie McKenzie is a Computational Neuroscience student with a minor in AI Applications. She is currently the president of NeurotechUSC, the student computational neurotechnology society. She's previously worked in a wetlab signal transduction neurobiology laboratory as well as a neural network modeling lab. She joined the lab April 2023 to work on research contributing to connectomics. Interested in brain-machine interfaces and neural signal processing, she hopes to pursue a PhD in BME or EE to join industry for Neurotechnology.