Tianming Liu, a professor of computer science, is combining the latest in imaging technology with data analytics to reveal new insights into the structure and function of the human brain.
Where did you earn degrees and what are your current responsibilities at UGA?
I earned my bachelor’s and master’s degrees inautomation from Northwestern Polytechnic University in China and my Ph.D. in computer science from Shanghai Jiaotong University. I am currently a professor of computer science in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
When did you come to UGA and what brought you here?
I came to UGA in fall 2008 and was attracted by the great research and instructional opportunities in brain imaging in the newly established Bioimaging Research Center. I was a joint hire between the computer science department and the BIRC.
What are your favorite courses and why?
My favorite course is “Biomedical Image Analysis.” This is a relatively new interdisciplinary topic at the interface of computer science, imaging science and biological science.
What interests you about your field?
The mysteries of brain structure and how structure impacts function is a major focus of my research and an area with broad implications.
What are some highlights of your career at UGA?
My research that has revealed a dense and consistent map of 358 landmarks in the cerebral cortex, the outer layer of the brain. These Dense Individualized and Common Connectivity-based Cortical Landmarks create new opportunities for understanding the structure and function of the brain. Another highlight is the creation of a system for analyzing the massive amounts of data generated by functional MRI imaging. The Holistic Atlases of Functional Networks and Interactomes brings a big data approach to understanding the brain.
How does your research or scholarship inspire your teaching, and vice versa?
I enjoy sharing the most recent discoveries in brain structure and function with my students. The curiosity of my students inspires my research, as well.
What do you hope students gain from their classroom experience with you?
I hope that students leave my classes with a fascination of and an appreciation for the beauties and mysteries of the brain.
Describe your ideal student.
My ideal student is self-motivated, energetic, innovative and hard-working.
Favorite place to be/thing to do on campus is…
Discussing research challenges with the fascinating students in my lab. I also enjoy playing basketball with my students in the Ramsey Center.
Beyond the UGA campus, I like to…
… camp with my Cub Scout sons.
Community/civic involvement includes….
… sharing knowledge about brain science with Cub Scouts.
Favorite book/movie (and why)?
“A Beautiful Mind,” which tells the story of Nobel Laureate John Nash and his struggles with mental illness.
Proudest moment at UGA?
When my first graduate student, Dajiang Zhu, received his Ph.D.
(Originally published Mach 20, 2016)