Neuroscience and Behavior Early Career Awards

The Early Career Award (1st or 2nd year) is designated for excellence in academics, research, and/or outreach and is selected by the Graduate Operations Committee. The winner receives a small gift and a certificate. Mélise Edwards (working with advisor Agnes Lacreuse) and Kate Otter (working with advisor Paul Katz) were commended for their outstanding accomplishments in research, academic success, and outreach supporting diversity and inclusion in STEM and academia. Erika Correll received honorable mention.

First year PhD student Mélise Edwards created the website (Mentorship for Under-represented STEM Enthusiasts), which aims to provide representation and mentorship to groups in STEM. M.U.S.E. hopes to provide the opportunity for students to see themselves reflected in their fields, receive mentorship from someone who shares their underrepresented identities, and provide tools for success in STEM. The website currently lists 28 mentors across the US spanning a variety of STEM fields and offers mentorship to STEM students in English and Spanish. The website also features monthly interviews with diverse STEM professionals, funding opportunities for students, STEM terminology and other resources for students. Mentors partner with students to navigate applying to college and graduate school and share advice on a wide range of topics. In the last month alone there were over 100 requests for mentorship. The Board of Directors, which includes NSB students Erika Correll, Annabelle Flores-Bonilla and NSB alumni John Hernandez, is working on a long list of projects including navigating nonprofit status and setting up a scholarship fund for underrepresented students in STEM. If you would like to apply to be a mentor, you can email To stay updated with M.U.S.E., follow along on Twitter or Instagram at @musementorship.

Kate Otter, a second year NSB PhD student created the Socially Just Science (SJS) discussion group in the Fall of 2019 as an opportunity for her to share information she learned in her coursework for the Social Justice Education graduate certificate. With support from NSB graduate students, post-docs and faculty, the SJS group became a monthly facilitated discussion where topics bridging social justice and science have been discussed. Group members have the opportunity to bring in topics they want to discuss and the opportunity to learn about facilitating dialog. Some topics covered this year include: Eugenic Basis of Modern Neuroscience, LGBTQ+ Inclusive Biology Teaching, and Indigenous Knowledge in Science. They have also begun to work together to compile resources to share to the NSB community that reflect the group’s discussion, such as Inclusive Teaching Tips and Indigenous Knowledge resources for teaching science. This month the SJS group hosted their first guest speakers from outside the UMass community to join in the discussion and plans to host others. The SJS discussion group provides a safe space for scientists to explore what it means to practice socially just science, and will continue meeting in the fall. If you are interested in being added to the contact list, look out for a solicitation for Fall 2020 this summer or contact Kate.