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Headshot of Kanaka-Rajan

Kanaka Rajan, Ph.D.

Harvard University


Kanaka Rajan, Ph.D., is a Computational Neuroscientist, an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, and founding faculty at the Kempner Institute for the Study of Natural and Artificial Intelligence at Harvard University. Her research seeks to understand how important cognitive functions —such as learning, remembering, and deciding— emerge from the cooperative activity of multi-scale neural processes. Using data from neuroscience experiments, Rajan applies computational frameworks adapted from engineering, mathematics, and physics to uncover integrative theories about the brain that bridge neurobiology and AI. Leveraging her unique expertise bridging the fields of engineering, biophysics, and neuroscience, she has pioneered computational approaches for understanding how the brain processes information, and how these processes become disrupted by neuropsychiatric diseases.

Dr. Rajan’s work has been recognized with several awards, including CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars Program,Harold & Golden Lamport Basic Science Research Award, McKnight Scholars Award, Young Investigator Award from the Brain and Behavior Foundation, Understanding Human Cognition Scholar Award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation, Research Scholars Awards from the Di Sabato Foundation and the Dyal Foundation, and a Sloan Research Fellowship. Her work is supported by R01 funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and FOUNDATIONS and CAREER awards from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Prior to joining the faculty at Harvard, Rajan was a tenured Associate Professor at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York in the Department of Neuroscience and the Friedman Brain Institute. She completed her postdoctoral work at Princeton University and received her PhD at Columbia University.

For more information about Dr. Rajan, please visit

Science Programs at Allen Institute