The results of this year’s NSF Graduate Fellowship Program have been announced and the Neuroscience Program is pleased to congratulate three new Graduate Research Fellows – Liz McDonnell Clark, Adam Nitenson, and Nate Snell – and three new Honorable Mentions – Nick Mei, Rachel Stevenson, and Torrey Truszkowski. It was a great year for Brown overall, with 10 new Graduate Fellows and 9 Honorable Mentions!
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Laura (Bonaccorsi) Sciarra joins 8 other promising young scientists named as Weatherstone Fellows by Autism Speaks. The Weatherstone Fellowship Program honors Sir Dennis Weatherstone and his commitment to the education of young scientists beginning careers in autism research. Sciarra, who works with NSGP trainer Eric Morrow, will use the support to study endosomal sodium-proton exchangers – a cellular mechanism newly implicated in autism. This cellular pathway may contribute to problematic connections between brain nerve cells and may prove to be an important new treatment target. More information is available from the Autism Speaks website.
The NeuroPracticum laboratory course provides first-year Neuroscience Graduate Program students with a hands-on and in-depth opportunity to learn essential techniques at the bench, including electrophysiology, molecular biology, imaging, and behavior. The course is held at the Marine Biological Laboratories for 8 days in January each year and provides unique training for these students in a informal, and intense format. Before coming to MBL, students complete a semester of didactic course work. At MBL, they can put their new knowledge into practice and work side-by-side at the bench with Brown University and MBL faculty.
Why does this differ from “lab rotations” that Brown Neuroscience students undertake during the regular academic year? A student can only rotate in a few laboratories and learn a few techniques in the first year of graduate school. And, a given laboratory can only handle a few rotation students per year. The NeuroPracticum course allows Brown University NSGP and GPP students to have an intense and practical experience at the bench with techniques that are the basis of modern neuroscience,- working side by side with professors who are expert in the techniques and systems. This intense experience integrates the practical with the theoretical; students understand both the strengths and limitations of techniques discussed in the classroom only when they use these techniques. The intense format of the course creates remarkable bonding among the faculty and students.
Michelle Fogerson and colleague Lauren Quattrochi (MPP), both graduate students in the Berson Lab, were awarded the Reginald D. Archambault Award for Teaching Excellence for their summer course entitled: “Drug Discovery: Treating Human Disease through Medicine”. The summer students found the course both inspiring and thought provoking. The prize will be officially presented in May.
The Brown Neuroscience Program had another strong showing at the annual Society for Neuroscience Meeting in San Diego. All of our first year students traveled to the meeting along with many other grad students, postdocs and faculty trainers. In addition to taking in plenty of science, the Brown crew enjoyed a festive evening at the Tipsy Crow.
Congratulations to Gül Dölen (MD/PhD, 2008) , recently appointed as Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University; Heiða María Sigurðardóttir (PhD, 2013), recently appointed at the University of Iceland, on their new professional positions, and Rayna Carter (PhD, 2013), who has taken a position in the NIH Graduate Partnership Program Office.
NSPG faculty trainers, Dima Amso, Wael Asaad, Eric Morrow, Jerome Sanes, and Joo-Hyun Song will participate in a recently funded NIH COBRE Center for Nervous System Function. This $11 million five-year grant focuses on brain mechanisms of attention and decision making. Link to the following URL for more information.
We congratulate several students who successfully defended their PhD thesis through the Summer and early Fall. In July, Heiða María Sigurðardóttir, who worked with David Sheinberg, and Kristin Kerr Scaplen, who worked with Rebecca Burwell, defended. Jonathan Barchi, who worked with James Simmons, defended his thesis in early August. Jennifer Barredo, who worked with David Badre, and Tyler Ard, who worked with Richard Coppola in our Brown-NIH Graduate Program, both defended in early October. Congratulations to all.
Congratulations to Ethan Bromberg-Martin, a 2009 PhD of our Brown-NIH graduate program, who has accepted an Assistant Professorship in the Department of Neuroscience at Columbia University. Ethan worked with Okihide Hikosaka for his PhD and post-doctoral work. Best wishes to Ethan!
Earlier this month NSGP 2nd year student Eric James joined fellow grad student Teresa Ramirez in a classroom visit to Ms. Angela Flynn’s 7th grade biology class at the Gordon School in East Providence. Ms Flynn has been organizing a speaker series for her class in order to “dispel misconceptions in my students about who can practice science at a high level.” and Eric and Teresa volunteered to participate. Teresa described her research on the effects of alcohol on the liver, and how she could use an animal model to better understand the process. Eric introduced the students to basic topics in neuroscience, including information about neurons and the process by which they communicate. The students were excited to learn more about how science is done, and we look forward to having some enthusiastic applicants for our incoming graduate class of 2022!