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Salk scientist Saket Navlakha receives CAREER Award from NSF

Salk Institute

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IMAGE: Salk scientist Saket Navlakha has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) totaling more than $1 million over the next five years. view more 

Credit: Salk Institute

LA JOLLA--(January 8, 2019) Salk scientist Saket Navlakha has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) totaling more than $1 million over the next five years. The CAREER award supports faculty who exemplify the role of teacher/scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.

"Saket's work is as innovative as it is interdisciplinary, with an approach that spans the fields of plant biology, computer science and neuroscience to reveal fascinating patterns in nature, including the brain," says Salk President Rusty Gage. "We are grateful that his research is being recognized and supported by the NSF, as it will help advance our understanding of how mathematics is intrinsically linked with the natural world, with relevance to topics as diverse as finding the causes of Alzheimer's disease or enhancing crop yields."

An assistant professor in the Integrative Biology Laboratory and a Pioneer Fund Developmental Chair, Navlakha received the CAREER award to fund his proposed study, "Algorithms in nature: uncovering principles of plant structure, growth, and adaptation." The goal of this project is to elucidate the naturally occurring algorithms in biological systems, such as the branching of a tree in search for light, and compare the network design strategies and optimization principles to that of developing neurons in the brain and human engineered transportation structures. The results of his study will help reveal the basic patterns that evolution has used to design these systems and will offer an improved understanding of how these natural networks process information and function in both health and disease.

Navlakha received his PhD in computer science from the University of Maryland and completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University. In the Integrative Biology Laboratory at the Salk Institute, Navlakha and his team study how groups of distributed molecules and cells communicate and process information to collectively solve computational problems important for survival.

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About the Salk Institute for Biological Studies:

Every cure has a starting point. The Salk Institute embodies Jonas Salk's mission to dare to make dreams into reality. Its internationally renowned and award-winning scientists explore the very foundations of life, seeking new understandings in neuroscience, genetics, immunology, plant biology and more. The Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark: small by choice, intimate by nature and fearless in the face of any challenge. Be it cancer or Alzheimer's, aging or diabetes, Salk is where cures begin. Learn more at: salk.edu.

About the NSF:

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2018, its budget is $7.8 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 50,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards.

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