Doris Y. Tsao
Director, T&C Chen Center for Systems Neuroscience
Doris Tsao (BS '96) is a professor of biology at Caltech and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. She joined the Caltech faculty in 2009; prior to that, she was head of an independent research group at the University of Bremen in Germany.
Tsao seeks to understand how visual objects in space are represented in the brain, and how these representations are used to guide behavior. She employs techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electrophysiology, optogenetics and electrical stimulation, behavior, and mathematical modeling to study species that include both rodents and nonhuman primates. Tsao is widely recognized for pioneering the use of fMRI to target electrodes for studying visual processing in monkeys, and in particular for her discovery of the macaque face-patch system, a network of six regions in the brain's temporal lobe dedicated to face processing.
Tsao studied biology and mathematics at Caltech as an undergraduate and received her PhD in neuroscience from Harvard in 2002 under the guidance of neurobiologist Margaret Livingstone. She has received multiple honors including the Sofia Kovalevskaya Award, the International Eppendorf & Science Prize in Neurobiology, the Technology Review TR35, a Searle Scholar Award, a National Institutes of Health Pioneer Award, the Minerva Foundation Golden Brain Award, the W. Alden Spencer Award and the Perl-UNC Prize. She was awarded a MacArthur fellowship in 2018 and was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 2020.