Pembe Gizem Özdil awarded Google PhD Fellowship

Pembe Gizem Özdil. Credit: PG. Özdil (EPFL)

Pembe Gizem Özdil. Credit: PG. Özdil (EPFL)

Pembe Gizem Özdil, a biorobotics PhD student at EPFL, has been awarded one of the prestigious Google PhD Fellowships.

The Google PhD Fellowship Program recognizes “outstanding graduate students doing exceptional and innovative research in areas relevant to computer science and related fields.” The fellowships support promising PhD candidates of all backgrounds who seek to influence the future of technology, and have so far been awarded to recipients in Africa, Australia, Canada, East Asia, Europe, India, Latin America, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the United States.

Among this year’s awardees is Pembe Gizem Özdil, a PhD student at EPFL. Özdil’s research focuses on biorobotics, and, in keeping with EPFL’s interdisciplinary spirit, she works in the labs of Professors Pavan Ramdya (EPFL School of Life Sciences) and Auke Ijspeert (EPFL School of Engineering).

Özdil’s doctoral research lies at the interface of neuroscience and artificial intelligence. Her primary focus is on understanding the mechanisms underlying coordinated movement in the fruit fly by combining behavioral experiments and computational models of the brain. Her work aims to decode how these tiny insect brains effectively control different body parts to achieve a specific goal. In the long term, insights gained from her research could enhance our understanding of motor coordination in animals and inspire the development of efficient and biologically inspired robotic controllers.

“Receiving the Google Fellowship is an incredible honor, and I am truly humbled,” says Özdil. “It is a great testament to the growing importance of interdisciplinary research bridging the fields of neuroscience and artificial intelligence. I am thrilled to be part of this dynamic field and grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the exciting journey of understanding the tiny fruit fly brain with the ever-evolving artificial systems and technologies.”

In a statement, Google expressed their own enthusiasm for this year's Fellows: “Google is pleased to confirm the recipients of the North American and European Google PhD Fellowships for 2023. These awards have been presented to exemplary PhD students in computer science and related fields. We have given these students unique fellowships to acknowledge their contributions to their areas of specialty and provide funding for their education and research. We look forward to working closely with them as they continue to become leaders in their respective fields.”

Google Research announcement of 2023 awardees