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UTHSC researcher tapped to head National Science Foundation grant program
(6-14-01)

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected Lawrence M. Parsons, Ph.D., of The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, to be the founding director of a new grant program in cognitive neuroscience. Dr. Parsons, associate professor at UTHSC's Research Imaging Center, will direct the program until 2003.

This is the first time the NSF has endowed a grant program for research on the human brain, Dr. Parsons said. Funding for the program is expected to grow to about $100 million.

“This indicates the new importance attached by the scientific community to basic research in neuroscience,” he said. “The starting budget is about $11 million, but the NSF wants to grow the program so that it entices physicists and engineers to develop new technology to study the brain and so that it prompts mathematics and computer modeling experts to develop new methods for studying brain data.”

Dr. Parsons is a well-known expert in the neural basis of cognition, perception and motor behavior in humans. A significant portion of his research involves studies of the function of the cerebellum. He explores the functional neuroanatomy involved in deduction and probabilistic reasoning; music perception, comprehension and performance; and visual-spatial reasoning and mental imagery. He collaborates with peers at the Research Imaging Center, one of the world's foremost facilities of its kind, and with colleagues in other departments at the Health Science Center and at other universities.

The NSF has a system for recruiting front-line researchers for visits of one to three years to direct a program. The federal agency will provide Dr. Parsons with the time and funding to return to the Research Imaging Center 50 days a year to continue his research. He leaves for his new assignment July 1.

Contact: Will Sansom