Richard A. Normann, distinguished professor of bioengineering, was recently notified that he is to be awarded an honorary doctorate degree from Miguel Hernández University of Elche, Spain. Normann was nominated by one of his colleagues, Dr. Eduardo Fernandez, at the university. 
The honorary degree is for Normann’s “outstanding scientific contributions,” including his pioneering work on systems for stimulating and recording from large numbers of neurons in the central and peripheral nervous systems.  
Normann is the inventor of the Utah Electrode Array, a pill-sized device containing 100 tiny electrodes that, when implanted in the brain or in peripheral nerves, allows unprecedented selective direct communication with sensory and motor neurons. Passing currents through arrays implanted in visual or auditory parts of the brain could produce a sense of sight in the blind or hearing in the deaf. If implanted in the motor parts of the brain, the arrays could be used to record neural signals for controlling external systems, such as a wheel chair. The arrays are also being used to study the parallel processing of sensory information by the retina and higher visual centers.
A ceremony in Spain will be held later this year to honor Normann along with his wife, Dr. Helga Kolb, emeritus professor of ophthalmology at the University of Utah Moran Eye Center, who will also be awarded an honorary doctorate degree at the same ceremony. Dr. Kolb has won a number of awards for her research on the structure of the retina.