When scientists talk about the brain, they often lapse into the metaphor of the day. We’re hard-wired to do certain things; electrical impulses relay information within networks. Who, then, to better understand the circuitry of the brain than an electrical engineer?
"I’ve never had a neuroscience or biology course in my life," says Mriganka Sur, head of the department of brain and cognitive sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Despite that, Sur, who came to the US in 1974 at the age of 20, is a leader in the field.
Sur, a Bengali who grew up in Allahabad, did his engineering at IIT, Kanpur and went on to Vanderbilt University where he combined his love for biology and engineering by exploring the brain using electrical engineering principles.
The big question in biology is how an organism develops. "The interaction between nature and nurture is one of the foundational questions. I am privileged to have made a contribution to this question," says Sur.
Sur is most famous for swinging the debate firmly into the nurture...