In his farewell address on Tuesday night, President Obama praised the work of Sliman Bensmaia (Associate Professor, Organismal Biology & Anatomy, Committees on Neurobiology and Computational Neuroscience). Bensmaia, on a team led by Robert Gaunt of the University of Pittsburgh, developed a robotic arm that allowed Nathan Copeland, a 28-year-old paralyzed man, to control the arm with his brain and feel the sensation of touch.
In October 2016, Obama fist-bumped Copeland on a visit to the University of Pittsburgh for the White House Frontiers Conference. In his speech on Tuesday, he said,
Over the course of these eight years, I've seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I've mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in a Charleston church. I've seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again.