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Dr. Pawan Sinha

Pawan Sinha an oversees citizen (OCI Card Holder) of India is a tenured professor of vision and computational neuroscience in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. He received his undergraduate degree in computer science from the Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi and his Masters and doctoral degrees in Artificial Intelligence from the Department of Computer Science at MIT. He has also had extended research stays at the University of California, Berkeley, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, the Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, and the Max-Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany. 

Prof. Sinha’s research interests span neuroscience, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and public health. Using a combination of experimental and computational modeling techniques, research in his laboratory focuses on understanding how the human brain learns to interpret and recognize complex sensory signals, such as images and videos. Prof. Sinha's experimental work on these issues involves studying healthy individuals and also those with neurological disorders such as autism. The goal is not only to derive clues regarding the nature and development of human visual skills, but also to create more powerful and robust AI systems.  

Prof. Sinha founded Project Prakash in 2005 with the twin objectives of providing treatment to children with severe visual impairments and also understanding mechanisms of learning and plasticity in the brain. This project has provided insights into several fundamental questions about brain function (even some that had remained open for the past three centuries) while also transforming the lives of many blind children by bringing them the gift of sight.  

Prof. Sinha is a recipient of the Pisart Vision Award from the Lighthouse Guild, the inaugural Asia Game Changers Award, the PECASE – US Government’s highest award for young scientists, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship in Neuroscience, the John Merck Scholars Award for research on developmental disorders, the Jeptha and Emily Wade Award for creative research, the Troland Award from the National Academies, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from IIT Delhi, and the Oberdorfer Award from the ARVO Foundation. His laboratory’s research has appeared in several leading scientific journals including Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Proceedings of the Royal Society. This work has been profiled in several media channels including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, New Yorker, ABC News, New Scientist, National Public Radio and TIME magazine. 


Prof. Sinha’s teaching has consistently received high ratings from students. He has received the Dean’s Award for Advising and Teaching at MIT. To enhance scientific literacy on a broader scale, he has written a series of newspaper articles on various aspects of normal and abnormal brain function with the goal of bringing the latest findings in neuroscience to the attention of the general public.

Prof. Sinha has served on the program committees for prominent scientific conferences on object and face recognition and is currently a member of the editorial board of ACM's Journal of Applied Perception. He is a founder of Imagen Inc, a company that applies insights regarding human image processing to challenging real-world machine vision problems. Imagen was the winner of the MIT Entrepreneurship competition. Prof. Sinha was named a Global Indus Technovator, and was also inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for creating the world’s smallest reproduction of a printed book.

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