Bringing Engineering Methods to Medical Research

Civil and Coastal Engineering professor Alex Sheremet, Ph.D., is collaborating with the UF College of Medicine and the McKnight Brain Institute on two grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to apply his knowledge in nonlinear dynamics to advance medical science.

Driven by common interests, Dr. Sheremet started working with Drs. Andrew Maurer and Sara Burke as an informal cross-disciplinary group focused on the study of brain activity. The experimental research conducted by Drs. Maurer and Burke examine hippocampal activity in rats with the goal of understanding its role in information processing, short-time memory, advanced age decline and Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Sheremet’s expertise in nonlinear waves, modeling and analysis of nonlinear-system dynamics is essential for developing data analysis approaches and constructing theoretical and numerical models for simulating the complex physics of brain activity.

Current research efforts focus on the analysis and interpretation of macroscopic measurements of activity, such electroencephalogram
(EEG) records, and the development of a thermodynamic description of macroscopic neural activity.

“Physics is the basis of anything the brain does. Dr. Maurer coined the phrase ‘physics of cognition’. We are trying to create a mathematical and physical formulation to understand the connection between these two words,” Dr. Sheremet explained.

The research provides a different perspective of brain processes that could advance treatments for memory and learning impairment