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Photo file: 
Full name: 
Robert J Butera
Job title: 
Professor; Vice President for Research Operations
Technical Interest Groups: Bioengineering, Computer Systems and Software
Email address: 
WHIT 3111

Robert Butera is the Vice President for Research Operations at Georgia Tech. He has been a member of the ECE faculty since 1999 and holds a joint appointment in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering.

A 1991 BEE graduate of Georgia Tech, Dr. Butera attended graduate school at Rice University in Houston, Texas, receiving the MSEE in 1994 and PhD in 1996. Following graduate school, he conducted postdoctoral research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland. While at the NIH, he worked jointly in the Mathematical Research Branch and the Laboratory for Neural Control.

From 2014-2016, Dr. Butera has co-directed the Neural Engineering Research Center, which brings together neural engineering researchers from across campus. His research currently focuses on novel methods for peripheral and autonomic nerve modulation using electrical signaling, combining engineering and neuroscience to tackle clinically motivated problems. His lab uses techniques including intracellular and extracellular electrophysiology, computational modeling, and real-time computing. His work has been supported by the NIH, NSF, DARPA, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, and corporations such as GlaxoSmithKline, Procter and Gamble, and Axion Biosystems.

Dr. Butera is a senior member of IEEE-EMBS and a Fellow of AIMBE and AAAS. He is also a member of the Society for Neuroscience, the American Physiological Society, and the ASEE. He has served as an article reviewer for numerous neuroscience, biomedical engineering, and physics journals and served on over two dozen NSF and NIH grant review panels.

Highly dedicated to both undergraduate and graduate education, Dr. Butera served as director of the Interdisciplinary Bioengineering Graduate Program from 2005-2008 and as faculty director of Graduate Studies at Georgia Tech from 2009-2011. He has also led Brain Beats, a large-scale research project on human cognitive rhythm generation conducted by a large team of undergraduates that is part of the Vertically Integrated Projects Program. From 2012-2015, he was co-founder and faculty director of the Grand Challenges Living Learning Community.

Research interests: 
  • Neuromodulation of peripheral and autonomic nerve activity
  • Real-time control methods applied to electrophysiology measurements
  • Mechanisms of temporal synchrony in neural systems
  • Neural control of breathing
  • Georgia Tech Senior Faculty Outstanding Undergraduate Research Mentor Award (2016)
  • Board of Directors, Organization for Computational Neuroscience (2013-2015)
  • IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society
    • Vice President for Finance, 2011-2014
    • North American Representative to AdCom (Board of Directors), 2005-2010
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2012)
  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering (2009)
  • Jefferson Science Fellow at US Dept of State (2008-9)
  • NSF CAREER Award (2005)
  • James S. McDonnell Foundation 21st Century Scientist Award (2001)
  • Junior Faculty Fellow, Center for the Enhancement for Teaching and Learning, 2001
  • Professional Engineer (active registration, licensed in Georgia)

S. M. Norman, R. J. Butera, and C. C. Canavier. “Stochastic Slowly Adapting Ionic Currents May Provide a Decorrelation Mechanism For Neural Oscillators by Causing Wander in the Intrinsic Period.” Journal of Neurophysiology (2016) doi: 10.1152/jn.00193.2016. [Epub ahead of print]

Y.A. Patel and R. J. Butera. “Differential fiber-specific block of nerve conduction in mammalian peripheral nerves using kilohertz electrical stimulation.” Journal of Neurophysiology (2015). 113:3923-3929. PMC4480619

U. S. Thounaojam, J. Cui, S. E. Norman, R. J. Butera, and C. C. Canavier. “Slow noise in the period of a biological oscillator underlies gradual trends and abrupt transitions in phasic relationships in hybrid neural networks.” PLOS Computational Biology (2014) 10:e1003622. PMC4022488

F. A. Ortega, R. J. Butera, D. J. Christini, J. A. White, and A. D. Dorval. “Dynamic clamp in cardiac and neural systems using RTXI.” Methods in Molecular and Cell Biology (2014) 1183:326-354.

N. Toporikova and R. J. Butera. "Dynamics of neuromodulatory feedback determines frequency modulation in a reduced respiratory network: A computational study." Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, (2013) 185:582-592. DOI: 10.1016/j.resp.2012.11.013

R.J. Butera (EDITOR). Phase-Response Curves in Neuroscience: Theory, Experiment, and Applications. Co-editor with Astrid Prinz and Nathan Schultheiss (Emory University). 2013. Springer Series in Computational Neuroscience.

R. M. Berry, J. Borenstein, and R. J. Butera. “Contentious Problems in Bioscience and Biotechnology: A Pilot Study of an Approach to Ethics Education.” Science and Engineering Ethics (2012). DOI: 10.1007/s11948-012-9359-6 (article is indexed by DOI)

L. Joseph and R. J. Butera. "High frequency stimulation selectively blocks different types of fibers in frog sciatic nerve." IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering (2011) 19:550-557.

R. J. Butera and R. Lin. “Key factors for improving dynamic clamp performance” in Dynamic Clamp: from Principles to Applications, A. Destexhe and T. Bal, eds. 2009. pp. 393-397.

A. J. Preyer and R. J. Butera. "Causes of Transient Instabilities in Dynamic Clamp Experiments." IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering (2009) 17:190-198.

J. Cui, C. C. Canavier, and R. J. Butera. "Functional phase response curves: A method for assessing synchrony of adapting neurons." Journal of Neurophysiology (2009) 102:387-398.

G. C. McConnell, R. J. Butera, and R. V. Bellamkonda. "Bioimpedance modeling to monitor astrocytic response to chronically implanted electrodes." Journal of Neural Engineering (2009) 6: 055005 (10 pages).

L. Joseph and R. J. Butera. "Unmyelinated Aplysia nerves exhibit a non monotonic blocking response to high frequency stimulation." IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering (2009) 17:537-544.

L. Purvis, J. C. Smith, H. Koizumi, and R. J. Butera. "Intrinsic Bursters Increase the Robustness of Rhythm Generation in an Excitatory Network." Journal of Neurophysiology (2007) 97:1515-1526.

I. Raikov, A. J. Preyer and R. J. Butera. "MRCI: A flexible real-time dynamic clamp system for electrophysiology experiments." Journal of Neuroscience Methods (2004) 132:109-123.

R. J. Butera and M. L. McCarthy. "Analysis of real-time numerical integration methods applied to dynamic clamp experiments." Journal of Neural Engineering (2004) 1:187-194.

R. J. Butera, C. G. Wilson, C. DelNegro, and J. C. Smith. "A methodology for achieving high-speed rates of artificial conductance injection in electrically excitable biological cells." IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Engineering (2001) 48:1460-1470.

R. J. Butera, J. Rinzel, and J. C. Smith. “Models of respiratory rhythm generation in the pre-Botzinger complex: II. Populations of coupled pacemakers.” Journal of Neurophysiology (1999) 82:398-415.

R. J. Butera, J. Rinzel, and J. C. Smith. “Models of respiratory rhythm generation in the pre-Botzinger complex: II. Populations of coupled pacemakers.” Journal of Neurophysiology (1999) 82:398-415.

Last revised August 28, 2020