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Blackrock Microsystems team members

In working with Blackrock Microsystems, you have access to one of the most experienced ephys teams in the world. Their cumulative experience includes:

  • 92 years of ephys
  • 356+ different set-ups in rodent, primate and human ephys research
  • Seven PhDs, five Master’s degrees and 23 Bachelor’s degrees
  • Delivery of 2,160 electrode arrays comprising more than 207,360 individual microelectrodes

Our expertise is truly international – we are happy to discuss your research ideas and potential challenges with you in Arabic, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Spanish and Vietnamese.


Blackrock Team Bios

Sales and Support Team—USA

Kian Torab, MSc.

VP of Technical Consulting & Strategy
Kian finished his undergraduate studies at the University of California, Davis, in biomedical engineering. He then moved to Utah to join the lab of Dr. Bradley Greger to complete his graduate studies. His thesis topic was focused on developing visual prosthetics in blind human patients. Kian has years of experience in non-human primate electrophysiology, using the Utah Array in recording and micro-stimulation projects. In order to better service our European customers, Kian temporarily decamped his entire household to Germany and learned to enjoy Koelsch, Sauerbraten (horse) and Karneval. In return, Kian—who has the largest network of cousins—introduced Blackrock to the flare of Persian culture. kian@blackrockmicro.com

Rob Franklin, PhD.

Senior Technical Consultant
Rob earned his PhD from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he developed electrodes for in vivo neurotransmitter sensing. Following his PhD studies, Rob began his work at Blackrock Microsystems where he has directed a team of engineers in the design and development of implantable, wireless neural interface electronics and novel silicon electrodes for recording and stimulation in the brain. His recent work focuses on custom solutions, high-channel-count neural recording systems and clinical applications for Blackrock’s technology. Rob’s enthusiasm and commitment knows no bounds, whether it is showing his support for the environment by braving US highways with an electric vehicle or his team spirit by playing soccer when really he would prefer football tackling us all. rfranklin@blackrockmicro.com

Nick Halper, BSc.

Senior Support Engineer
Nick completed his undergraduate degree at Westminster College in neuroscience and chemistry, where his research focused on the role of various signaling pathways in microglial activation and subsequent cytotoxicity. He then moved on to work under Dr. David Strayer and Dr. Jason Watson at the University of Utah Cognitive Science Lab. Nick has helped over 50 separate labs incorporate Blackrock’s systems into their research. In a parallel life, Nick would have been a guitar player for a hugely successful death metal band or the next generation Jamie Oliver with tattoos. How he even finds time to pursue these hobbies today, we do not know. nhalper@blackrockmicro.com

Shine Wang, PhD.

Senior Technical Consultant
Shine Wang completed his Bachelor’s degree at Nanchang U, China, in Life Sciences and then earned his Ph.D. degree in Neuroscience from the Institute of Neurobiology at Fudan University in China. His doctoral research was on neural coding of effort-reward decision-making. He has conducted or assisted in numerous electorde-array implantations and ephys experiments on various animal models including mouse, rat, cat and non-human primate etc. in different labs. Shine Joined Blackrock Microsystems in 2013 and now mainly focuses on the Asian-Pacific market. Since moving to Utah, Shine is a total skiing enthusiast and his bowling celebrations put NFL touchdown celebrations to shame. swang@blackrockmicro.com


Sales and Support Team—Europe

Sherman Wiebe, PhD. MBA

Senior Technical Advisor Blackrock Microsystems Europe
Sherman has over 17 years of experience in the neuroscience research field. He earned degrees in physics and mathematics from the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, followed by a PhD in Neuroscience from New York University where he studied the role of the hippocampus in olfactory memory in freely-behaving rodents. He also holds an MBA from Southern Methodist University. Sherman held multiple positions at Plexon Inc, first as sales manager, then as director of world-wide sales and marketing, and finally as Managing Director of Plexon Europe. Subsequently, Sherman founded NeuronautX, a scientific consultancy firm based in Brussels. Since 2016, Sherman is a key advisor for Blackrock Microsystems in Europe. Sherman’s clearest thinking occurs during the long runs which have already led him to four completed marathons in the last years. Not even the fact that he is based in Brussels, the capital of beer and fine chocolates, could keep him from this achievement. sherman@blackrockmicro.eu

Ulrich Froriep, Dr. rer. nat.

Director of Technical Consulting Europe
Ulrich finished his master’s degree in biology at the Leibniz Universität Hannover, Germany, performing in vivo recordings in the bat auditory cortex. For his PhD studies on hippocampal-entorhinal interactions in a mouse model of epilepsy, he went to the Bernstein Center Freiburg, Germany. Ulrich then joined the Bioelectronics Group at MIT to develop biocompatible neural probes for simultaneous recording, optogenetic stimulation and drug delivery in brain and spinal cord of mice. Ulrich has extensive experience in in vivo experimentation, data analysis and neural engineering. A previous customer who joined Blackrock, Ulrich takes complicated problems and breaks them into very understandable pieces. Ulrich.froriep@blackrockmicro.eu

Saman Haghgooie, PhD.

Director of Support Europe
Saman completed his bachelor’s degree in Iran, then moved to Australia to continue his education. He studied the human vestibular function in psychiatric and neuro-degenerative patients at Monash University and The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. His research contributed to the development of a fast diagnostics tool called EVestG. He then joined Monash Vision Group as a R&D engineer in 2010, aiming to develop a visual prosthesis device to restore sight in the blind. There he studied various animal models to verify early prototypes of a direct-to-brain wireless interface for cortical stimulation. Saman’s commitment to ephys is exemplar—he has moved his entire family exactly 8,983 miles in order to empower ephys. And in all of that upheaval, you will never come across a more calm and cool individual—a perfect partner to have when setting up complex rigs under pressure! saman.haghgooie@blackrockmicro.eu


Engineering and R&D Team

Brett Dowden, PhD.

Director of Engineering
Brett obtained his undergraduate degree in electrical and computer engineering from the University of Dayton. From there, he completed his PhD in bioengineering at the University of Utah under the mentorship of Greg Clark and Dick Normann. At Utah, he developed tools and techniques for artificial control of the neuromuscular system, using electrical stimulation via hundreds of microelectrodes. While generally being green and healthy, bourbon, woodworking and belts make him a Kentucky man. Nonetheless, Brett has become a true Ute who can excel at extreme sports without the need for oxygen. bdowden@blackrockmicro.com

Rajmohan Bhandari, PhD.

Director of R&D
Raj received his PhD degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from University of Utah and MTech degree in solid-state materials from Indian Institute of Technology. He is currently Array Manager in Blackrock Microsystems and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Electrical and Computer Engineering of University of Utah. He has been involved in prototyping and manufacturing of various micro fabrication, neural interface technologies and devices. Raj is the author of several scientific and engineering publications has three patents and several others pending in the USPTO. Raj is a specialist in implantable devices and systems, MEMS, and grants. Raj has introduced the Blackrock team to the merits of cricket (a tall order when considering it is played for five days without necessarily identifying a winner), Indian food and tea. rbhandari@blackrockmicro.com

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