Xaq Pitkow

WEBSITE(S)| Xaq Lab | Xaq Pitkow Lab

Dr. Pitkow's primary focus is on developing theories of the computational functions of neural networks, especially how they compute properties of the world using ambiguous sensory evidence. He was trained in physics as an undergraduate student at Princeton and went on to study biophysics at Harvard. There he joined the neuroscience lab of Markus Meister, conducting experiments on retinal processing, and developing theory of cortical circuits in collaboration with Haim Sompolinsky. After his Ph.D. he took a postdoctoral position in the Center for Theoretical Neuroscience at Columbia to work with Ken Miller and then moved to the University of Rochester to work as a postdoc with Alex Pouget in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. In 2013 he moved to Houston to become a faculty member jointly at the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) and Rice University, in the Departments of Neuroscience and Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is the co-Director of the Center for Neuroscience and Artificial Intelligence at BCM.

In addition to science, Dr. Pitkow also enjoys creating art (especially sculpture) and music (especially piano and tabla), biking, and spending time with his family.

Research Areas

Theories of neural computation in animal brains. Topics include probabilistic inference, control theory, nonlinear dynamics, population codes. Current projects include analyzing behaviors of animals playing video games; designing animal virtual reality environments; stimulating and analyzing computation in neural networks as well as data science and neuroengineering.


2006 Ph.D. BioPhysics, Harvard University

1997 A.B. Physics, Princeton University

Honors & Awards

2016 NSF CAREER Award

2013 McNair Scholar


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