Cambridge, Mass. – Aug. 4, 2015 - Harvard President Drew Faust has approved Maurice A. Smith for promotion to the role of full professor with tenure at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).

Smith, the Gordon McKay Professor of Bioengineering at SEAS, studies how the human brain controls movement, with a focus on elucidating the algorithms that the central nervous system uses to build memories for new motor skills. His work extends from understanding the processes that underlie motor learning in healthy individuals to understanding how these processes go awry when individuals suffer from neurologic disorders, such as Huntington’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

His research, which uses robotics, computational modeling, and noninvasive brain stimulation to provide insight into the dynamics of human motor learning, has also shown that the movement-to-movement motor variability individuals display when they are developing a new skill actually improves the brain’s ability to learn.

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, electrical engineering and mathematics from Vanderbilt University in 1993. In 2003, he earned an M.D./Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he won the David Israel Macht prize for graduate student basic science research. He then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins before joining SEAS as an assistant professor in 2005.

In 2006, the Wallace H. Coulter Foundation awarded Smith the Early Career Award in Bioengineering. He was named a McKnight Scholar by the McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience and a Sloan Research Fellow by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2007.