Lewis Garners a McKnight Award

The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience has selected Assistant Professor Laura Lewis (BME) as one of seven neuroscientists to receive the 2021 McKnight Scholar Award.

The McKnight awards are granted to young scientists who are in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories and research careers and who have demonstrated a commitment to neuroscience. Lewis will be granted $75,000 per year for three years to study the effects of sleep on neural computation and physiology, with an emphasis on the role of cerebrospinal fluid and how it synchronizes with neural slow waves.

“The McKnight Scholars are tackling some of the most exciting questions in neuroscience today,” says Kelsey C. Martin, chair of the awards committee. “This year’s class of Scholars showcases the diversity of young, brilliant, innovative neuroscientists from across the nation.”

Lewis, who joined ENG in 2019, has been pushing fMRI imaging techniques to heretofore-unheard-of speeds, gaining second-to-second data on the clusters of neurons that serve as switches between sleep and wakefulness. Her goal is to understand how sleep promotes brain health, and why sleep is disrupted in neurologic and psychiatric disorders.

With the McKnight award, Lewis has completed a science trifecta of sorts. It is the third major research award she’s won this year, having also earned a Sloan Research Fellowship and membership in the Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences in 2021. She has also garnered the inaugural 1907 Trailblazer Award and a Searle Scholars Program grant.

“She’s won so many awards in the short time she’s been at BU,” says Professor John White, chair of BME. “It seems like she can’t write an award application without getting it.”