[Rui; pronounced “Ray”]: My name is Rui Ma, I graduated from University of Illinois with a PhD in Neuroscience. My field was neurophysiology at the same time I got a master degree in applied mathematics. The major directions are statistics, control, and optimization; that helps me interface well with electrical engineers. My research interests include brain-computer interface both invasive and noninvasive. My second interest is to develop epidermal electronics these are a type of flexible devices that you can laminate onto the skin of human bodies and detect all sorts of physiological signals including electrical signals that reflect the activity of muscle or your brain. You can perform all sorts of interesting processing with the signal to make use of it. My third interest is in feedback information theory which is tightly related to this Center. All the participants of the discussions in the Center care about information and they have different mental images in their mind. I think that an enriching experience for me has been to hear different opinions about how they think about information. I think that helps us to start thinking about how to abstract information in a new way that is applicable across different disciplines. I’m kind of a fundamentalist. I want to go back to the beginning of the thinking process, how everyone started in this field, and how their knowledge framework started to abstract the information.
[Education Director]: Please tell us about your own approach, and more broadly how your research group at UCSD approaches a problem. How do you approach problems as an interdisciplinary team?
[Rui]: My advisor, Todd Coleman, is a very good team leader. He picked this team that is at UCSD. He fostered this team, so that the team members were complementary to each other. It depends a great deal on the nature of the problem or the nature of the project you're trying to carry out. For example, if you are doing mostly theoretical exploration, then a small group of three or four people that are intensely talking to each other, constantly exchanging ideas, that would be the way for them to collaborate. But, for an experimentalist like me, the nature of the project requires a more complicated managerial system due to there are too many flying pieces for an experimental project.
[Education Director]: So as a Center Post-Doc, what are you most excited about in terms of with not only your own research but also interfacing with the Center as a broader entity?
[Rui]: Oh boy, I can't say how excited I am to have a chance to obtain guidance from the information theorists and biologists in the Center. My two main collaborator’s as a Center postdoc are professor Venkat and professor Gallant. They are both top experts in their respective fields. I'm so excited I have this opportunity to collaborate with them.