Blake Richards

Blake Richards – Principal Investigator

Academic Bio
Since January 2014, I have been an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Biological Sciences (Scarborough) with a cross-appointment to the Department of Cell and Systems Biology. I am also a Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research in the Learning in Machines and Brains Program. From October 2011 to December 2013, I was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Frankland at SickKids Hospital, where I studied memory consolidation and neural plasticity. From 2007 to 2010, I was a Welcome Trust 4-year PhD student at the University of Oxford in the Department of Pharmacology with Dr. Colin Akerman, where I explored synaptic plasticity in early life. During the MSc component of the program I worked with Dr. Wyeth Bair and Dr. Ole Paulsen, studying computational models of visual processing and voltage bistability in neocortical dendrites. Before my graduate studies, I worked as a programmer and research analyst in magnetic resonance imaging at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health from 2004-2006. I received my Bachelors degree in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence from the University of Toronto in 2004. There I had the privilege of doing undergraduate research projects with Dr. Robert McDonald, Dr. Suzanne Stephenson, Dr. Peter Reich, and Prof. Geoffrey Hinton. It was these experiences as an undergraduate that ultimately led me to a career in academia.

Where did you grow up and what’s your background?
I grew up in Toronto, in the Beaches as a kid, and then downtown (Bay street) as a teenager. My background is like that boring history book you had to read in high school: A mixture of English Empire Loyalists, francophones and Scots.

Why science? If not science, then what?
That’s a tough question for me. My identity has been tied to science for a long time. So, lying face down in the gutter somewhere? No, actually, I would probably have gone into either the tech sector or policy - I love programming and I’m a total wonk.

The best restaurant in Scarborough is...?
I’m pretty partial to Ital Vital (http://italvitalrastaurant.com/). Who can argue with vegan Rasta food? Such a good price too - prime example of why Scarborough is the place to eat in this city.

Your favourite place in Toronto is…?
It’s a toss up between the Beach and Kensington Market... depends on my mood.

Your favourite place on the intertubes?
https://www.mixcloud.com/

Best song of all time?
Tom & Jerry - Maxi(mun) Style