Heather Ames


I am a the Co-PI and Executive Director of the NSF-funded CELEST Center at at Boston University. My research focuses on speech modeling, remote sensing, analysis of learning and homeostasis in neural network systems, and technology transfer of brain-basedgrass applications. I am working on better understanding how the human brain can learn speech sound motor program representations and how those representations may be stored and accessed in normal as well as impaired subjects. I am also working on developing new techniques and models to analyze remote sensing data, in particular LiDAR data. My research also involves evaluating learning laws and their stability in various neural network architectures that can be used to guide neuromorphic chip development. Finally, I am working at Boston University within the NSF-sponsored CELEST Science of Learning Center as the co-director of technology outreach and a member of the governing board to facilitate technology transfer from the models that we build to private industries and labs.

Given my interest in technology transfer and an entrepreneurial spirit, I along with two colleagues, Massimiliano Versace and Anatoli Gorchetchnikov have founded Neurala LLC, a startup company focused on the development of brain-based technologies to assist in more intelligent analysis of data and problem solving. 

I received my PhD in 2009 at Boston University with a dissertation centered on “Neural dynamics of speech perception and production: from speaker normalization to apraxia of speech” in which my research focused on developing computational models of both speech perception and production. In one project, the model I developed, NormNet, was used to explain the neural mechanisms needed to generate an invariant representation of speech stimuli for language understanding. The results of this work was published in JASA. In the second project, I developed new representations for speech motor programs in the brain and then damaged these representations in the model to better understand how speech can be affected by brain trauma and stroke. Before coming to Boston, I received my bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science with an emphasis in Neuroscience at the University of California at Berkeley in 2003.

My research is supported in part by CELEST, an NSF Science of Learning Center (NSF SBE-0354378).celest catalyst neurala