Rising young scientist

Neuroscientist Peter Zeidman is now pursuing his ‘real love’ – namely academic research. Working towards his PhD at the Wellcome Trust, he is already attracting national attention.

Peter (OE 1996-2003) appeared as part of a panel of young scientists in an updated radio version of the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme for Radio 5Live, where he discussed neural interfaces using EEG [Electroencephalography]. These could allow the identification of consciousness in patients incorrectly diagnosed as being in a vegetative state. It could potentially even allow two-way communication with these locked-in patients.

He took a first-class degree in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science from the University of Birmingham in 2006, and followed it with a Masters in Natural Computation and an MSc in Neuroscience from University College, London, in 2009. After teaching himself the cell biology, biochemistry and linear algebra he needed for his MSc at UCL, he received a distinction and won a prize for the best thesis.

To investigate whether a career in industry might be for him, he spent two years developing computer systems for Tessella PLC. Although he enjoyed the work, this period served to confirm that he would rather devote his career to academic research.

Peter is now studying for a PhD at the Wellcome Trust for Neuro-imaging at UCL. His research – which he describes as extremely exciting – uses MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to explore the relationship between memory, imagination and spatial awareness in the human brain. He hopes that understanding how a healthy brain comprehends visual scenes will lead to a better understanding of how the brain functions in illness and disease.

In a letter to the School, he describes how his time at QE created a platform for his current success: “Above anything else, Queen Elizabeth’s gave me the confidence to do well. Growing up with intelligent and interesting schoolmates also taught me a huge amount.”