Category Archives: News

NSB Student Awards

Congratulations to recipients Neuroscience & Behavior annual awards.

Vincent Dethier

Vincent Dethier

Although all of the NSB students are outstanding. Each year awards are presented to recognize particular achievements. The Vincent Dethier Award pays tribute to an NSB graduate student, honoring academic and research performance as well as contributions that enhance the quality of the NSB Program.  The award consists of a certificate, a cash award, and a book – To Know a Fly by Vincent G. Dethier, the first Graduate Director of the NSB program. This year there was a tie for the prize: Adaeze Egwuatu and Nicole Lee. The Gold Neuron award, which celebrates an exciting finding from any graduate student in the NSB program in the past year, was awarded to Joseph Dwyer. The Early Career Award, which recognizes a1st or 2nd year PhD student who demonstrates excellence in academics, research, and/or outreach, was given to Phoenix Quinlan.

Continue reading


IONs Director’s Channel – April 2019

IONs Director: Paul Katz

Spring is in the air here in Amherst. The Neurosciences continue to grow. We are very pleased to welcome Amanda Woerman to the Biology Department. Amanda is the 7th woman neuroscientist hired in the last 2 years. The growth in the neurosciences is not over as we are waiting to hear about the results of other faculty searches. We also have an excellent new crop of PhD and fast-track MS students joining the Neuroscience and Behavior Program this fall. April is an exciting time for seminars. IONs is pleased to host two Neurosciences Distinguished Lectures: Marlene Behrmann on April 10 and Jeff Lichtman on April 24th. In addition, NSB is hosting Frank Grasso for the Annual Kay Fite Lecture on April 3rd. For the first time, the Initiative on Neurosciences will be participating in the #UMassGives campaign. Please donate just a little to show your support.


Student Spotlight – Francesca Walsh

This month’s student spotlight is on MS student Franchesca Walsh. Fran is an MS student working with in Youngbin Kwak’s lab. She is interested in neuroeconomics. Together with her advisor and co-author Erik Cheries, she recently published a commentary entitled, “‘Incentive hope’ and the nature of impulsivity in low-socioeconomic-status individuals” in Behavioral and Brain Sciences (Cambridge University Press) in which they respond to Anselme and Gunturkun’s Incentive Hope Hypothesis. This motivation mechanism theory brings together neuroscience literature on reward uncertainty and decision making with biology field observations of animal foraging behavior. Continue reading


UMass Neurosciences Publications – March 2019

The featured researcher is David Moorman,  who is an assistant professor in the department of Pyschological & Brain Sciences. Dr. Moorman had 3 publications appear on PubMed this month. His research examines how neuronal ensembles encode reward. He uses cutting edge techniques to optically record and stimulate neurons while animals are behaving.

Here’s what’ new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in March. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. Continue reading


Amanda Woerman joins Neuroscience and Behavior

New Neuroscience Faculty

New Neurosciences Faculty: Amanda Woerman (Biology), ChangHui Pak (Biochemistry & Molecular Biology), Jennifer Mack (Communications Disorders), Stephanie Padilla (Biology), Bruna Martins (Psychological & Brain Sciences), Karine Fenelon (Biology), Sarah Pallas (Biology)

Dr. Amanda Woerman will be joining the Biology Department in the fall of 2019 and will be a member of the Neuroscience & Behavior graduate program. It is worth noting that Amanda is the 7th woman hired into the Neurosciences in the last two years.  Amanda earned my doctorate in Molecular Medicine at The George Washington University in 2013. She is currently an Assistant Adjunct Professor of Neurology at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco. She works in the laboratory group of Nobel Laureate Stanley Prusiner. Her research is focused on investigating protein misfolding and spreading in neurodegenerative disease, with an emphasis on the frontotemporal dementias (FTDs) and the movement disorder multiple system atrophy (MSA).  When she joins UMass, she plans to expand on her previous work by focusing on developing assays that differentiate and characterize disease-causing a-synuclein and tau strains. This could lead to personalized approaches to treating these neurological diseases.


IONs Director’s Channel – March 2019

As we move into March, we feel the hope and optimism of spring and growth. Offers of admission are about to be sent to prospective graduate students and new faculty members. We can feel the neurosciences growing and expanding with new people, new findings, and new connections. The Neuroscience and Behavior graduate program had a very exciting recruitment open house. We are hopeful of seeing an exciting new crop of PhD students in the fall. In addition the Molecular and Cellular Biology graduate program is in the process of its recruitment event. We are concluding two faculty searches for new Neurosciences faculty members, one in the Biology Department and one in the Psychological and Brain Sciences Department.  The Organismic and Evolutionary Biology program is concluding it search for the next Darwin Fellow. Stay tuned for these exciting developments. March is Brain Awareness Month and neuroscience students, postdocs and faculty will be participating in outreach events in Holyoke among other places. Finally, we have wonderful line up of speakers this month including Neurosciences Distinguished Lectures, Charles Lieber and Thalia Konkle as well as NSB students. Please consider supporting IONs with a small donation to help us grow and show your support for the Neurosciences at UMass.


IONs Director’s Channel – Feb 2019

Paul Katz, Director

February may be the shortest month of the year, but it is full of Neurosciences events at UMass. In line with our focus on neuroengineering, I am pleased to announce a new mechanism to initiate collaborative research in neuroengineering – the Innovation Marketplace. Faculty are encouraged to pitch ideas, which will be judged by an audience. The top three proposals will be awarded $1000 microgrants on the spot and developed into Seed Grant proposals through workshops.

We have an incredible line up of speakers this month (see Events). Several of them mesh well with our emphasis this spring in Neuroengineering. Continue reading


Innovation Marketplace

The innovation marketplace is a place to pitch an idea for a collaboration to obtain a Neuroengineering seed grant.

The goal is to find new avenues of collaboration between neuroscientists and engineers.

Faculty are invited to submit a pitch by filling out an online form. The pitch is simply a short explanation of a problem that they have identified that could be solved with collaboration. For example, a neuroscientist may have identified the need for a new tool. Or an engineer may have designed a tool and is interested in finding new uses for it. Similarly, this could extend to analytic methods or devices.  Continue reading