Image of Rob Butera
Rob Butera
(rbutera at

School of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Wallace H. Coulter Dept. of Biomedical Engineering
Laboratory for Neuroengineering

Office: Whitaker 3104
Telephone: 404-894-2935


  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2012
  • Jefferson Science Fellow, US Dept. of State (2008-9)
  • Fellow, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering (2008)
  • Vice President for Finance, IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (2011-2014)
  • Elected two-term member of AdCom (Board of Directors), IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society (2006-2010)
  • Deputy Editor-in-Chief, IEEE Transactions on Biomedical Circuits and Systems (2007-2010)
  • Associate Editor, IEEE Trans. on Biomedical Engineering (2010-12)
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Theoretical Biology (2007-present)
  • Faculty Director, Grand Challenges Living Learning Community (2012-13)
  • Faculty Director of Graduate Studies, Georgia Tech (2009-11)
  • Director, Bioengineering Graduate Program, Georgia Tech (2005-8)
  • NSF CAREER Award Recipient (2004)
  • James S. McDonnell Foundation 21st Century Scientist Award
  • Licensed Professional Engineer (registered in Georgia)
  • Research actively supported by multiple grants from NSF, NIH, and private foundations
  • Panelist and Grant Reviewer for NIH and NSF (areas of Biomedical Engineering, Neuroscience, Graduate Education, International Activities, Computational Biology, Respiratory Biology)
  • Article reviewer for all major Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience, Biomedical Engineering, and Neural Engineering journals, as well as some Physics and Mathematics journals.


The research in my lab ranges from neuroengineering to computational neuroscience. We utilize techniques including intracellular electrophysiology, extracellular electrophysiology, computational modeling, and real-time computing applied to conduct many of these experiments. Specific active research areas include:

  • Neuromodulation of peripheral nerve activity. We study how kHz electrical AC stimuli block conduction in peripheral nerve, and how in certain circumstances this electrical block can be selective (i.e. only block specific fibers)
  • Synchronization properties of neurons. We investigate how the biophysical properties of individual neurons relate to the ability of neurons to synchronize the timing of the firing of their action potentials to other neurons. The synchronization of neuron action potential firing underlies a range of neurological processes from information representation in sensory systems to motor pattern generation underlying repetitive processes such as breathing and walking.
  • Real-time computing methods for electrophysiology experiments. Our lab develops open source software ( that allow real-time computer simulations to interact with ongoing experiments. In general, the system is designed to solve large sets of differential equations in real-time, which maintaining time-locking with external inputs from experiments and generating outputs back to those same experiments. This closed-loop paradigm is called the “dynamic clamp” in neuroscience, but this approach can be applied to many other types of experiments as well.
Other interests include nonlinear dynamical systems and oscillatory electronic circuits inspired by some of our neurobiological research. For much of my career we have also been heavily involve in the study of the neural basis of respiration. We also have a large undergraduate group called Brain Beats that is involved in studying how humans cognitive generate and respond to periodic rhythms (such as music).


  • BEE (co-op, with highest honors), Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 1991.
  • MSEE, Rice University, Houston, TX 1994.
  • Ph.D., Rice University, Houston, TX 1996.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 1996-1999.