Lawrence Udeigwe Awarded Martin Luther King Visiting Associate Professorship at MIT

A faculty member in the mathematics department, Udeigwe joins a group that has included Anita Hill and Ta-Nehisi Coates.

Portrait photo of Lawrence UdeigweLawrence Udeigwe, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics at Manhattan College, has been awarded a Dr. Martin Luther King Visiting Associate Professorship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The appointment will last for one year, during which Udeigwe will:

  • Continue research on modeling neural plasticity, especially as it pertains to the primate visual system, and its application to computer vision and autonomous driving.
  • Develop and teach a graduate seminar course that explores practical and philosophical questions regarding the use of simulations to affirm experimental results and eventually build theories in neuroscience.
  • Assist the MIT Brain and Cognitive Science Department in developing diversity, equity, inclusion and justice (DEIJ) initiatives and policies that promote and foster the success of young and rising under-represented minority scientists and applied mathematicians.

“The impact of my work during this appointment will definitely not stop at MIT,” Udeigwe said. “it will be felt at Manhattan College when I return home. I believe my research work with students will get deeper and more interdisciplinary. I will also be in a better position to develop, and get funded for DEIJ [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice] initiatives among student researchers, especially students from underrepresented communities and military veterans.”

In 2020, Udeigwe was awarded a National Science Foundation Research Grant, and in 2021, he was awarded a Department of Defense research grant of $371,000 from the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Army Research Laboratory to support his work on Hebbian Learning. In this work, Udeigwe will use analytical and numerical methods to explore and model the dynamical interactions between synaptic plasticity and a set of accompanying biologically stabilizing mechanisms known as homeostatic plasticity.

At Manhattan College, Udeigwe introduced and created new courses in computational neuroscience and applied dynamical systems that he has taught to both graduate and undergraduate students since Fall 2018. 

Outside of mathematics and science, Udeigwe is a singer-songwriter and leads the Lorens Chuno group, whose music can be heard here. Among many themes, his songwriting tackles intersectionality issues faced by the contemporary African. He also explores the different ways in which mathematics and jazz can be interfaced. 

Notable past recipients of the Martin Luther King visiting associate professorship have included lawyer, feminist icon and academic Anita Hill, and the award-wining writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.

By Pete McHugh