Physicist recognized as one of the world’s most influential scientists

FIU associate professor of physics Angela Laird has been named one of the world’s most highly cited researchers by Thomson Reuters in its “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds of 2014” report.

Released in June, the Highly Cited Researchers section of the report recognizes more than 3,200 authors in 21 main fields of science and the social sciences. Laird is one of only 15 Florida researchers on the list. Reuters used its Essential Science Indicators — a compilation of science performance statistics and science trends data based on journal article publication counts and citation data — to identify the highly cited researchers. Laird ranks among the top 1 percent most cited for the field of neuroscience and behavior between 2002 and 2012. This means her published work in neuroscience has consistently been judged as significant and particularly useful by her peers in the research community.

Angela Laird, associate professor of Physics.

Angela Laird, associate professor of Physics.

Laird is an authority in the field of neuroimaging or brain mapping. Her work focuses on mining and exploring big data in neuroimaging to better understand human brain function. She is the director of FIU’s Neuroinformatics and Brain Connectivity Laboratory, where she works to develop brain mapping data analysis algorithms, neuroscience informatics tools and hierarchy of concepts in neuroimaging that may lead to more effective ways to analyze the functional brain networks of healthy individuals and those with psychiatric and neurologic diseases or disorders such as Alzheimer’s.

Originally from Central Florida, Laird joined FIU in 2012 to leave her mark in science and science education. Prior to joining the faculty here, she was with the University of Texas.

“One of the reasons I returned to my home state was so that I could help increase Florida’s international research reputation in this challenging and exciting field, and I am thrilled that FIU shares this vision,” Laird said. “FIU is rapidly growing and offers a wealth of collaborative opportunities, and the energy here is really exciting.”

Named an FIU Top Scholar in 2013, Laird’s passion is educating the next generation of scientists, both in the classroom and in one-on-one student research mentoring. She said it is important that students are exposed to an interdisciplinary perspective during their training since this is an important component of being a successful academic scientist, particularly in the biomedical and health sciences.

“Dr. Laird’s exciting research on how learning affects the brains of children and adults is putting FIU on the map,” said Suzanna M. Rose, executive director of the School of Integrated Science and Humanity. “Under her leadership, the Cognitive Neuroscience and Imaging Center just being launched at FIU will contribute unique findings to President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative.”

Laird has published nearly 100 neuroimaging studies investigating brain function in patients with various mental health disorders, such as depression, autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. Her research is funded by multiple awards from the National Institute of Mental Health.

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