Student Spotlight

Ellen Rodberg

This month’s student spotlight is on Ellen Rodberg. Ellen is a 2nd year NSB graduate student in Elena Vazey’s lab in the Biology Department, where she works on the role of the Locus Coeruleus in stress responses. This past month, she published a single-author “Journal Club” review in the Journal of Neuroscience, titled, “Stress-Induced Increases in Locus Coeruleus Norepinephrine Underlie Extinction Learning Deficits”. Ellen transferred to UMass from the University of Michigan and was previously an undergraduate at UMass.


UMass Neuroscience Publications – July 2020

Dr. Rebecca Ready

This month’s featured researcher is Rebecca Ready. Rebecca is a Professor and Director of Clinical Training in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. She is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and of the American Psychological Association and heads the Aging, Emotion, and Cognition Lab here at UMass. This month she had a paper appear in PubMed in which a team validated testing measure to determine outcomes of patients with Huntington’s Disease.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in July. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. You can click on the PubMed ID to find the publication.

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Update from NSB Anti-Racism Action Teams and Focus Groups

Continuing the anti-racism work here on campus, the Neuroscience and Behavior community is making great strides with 5 teams that have worked with trainees within their respective focus groups. Open communication, supportive dialogue and the recognized need for change are driving the teams and trainees to continue this progress. Working with these focus groups has allowed for listening, learning, and brainstorming between faculty team members and trainees. Transparency and communication regarding progress remains a steadfast goal, along with easing the burden of the trainees within the focus groups. Using the student petition as a guideline, they are striving for strengthening scientific growth and mentorship alongside an increased call for social justice within our NSB program, and as an academic community as a whole. If you are interested in getting involved or learning more about the work being done, please contact Luke Remage-Healey ( or Heather Richardson (

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Director’s Channel, July 2020

Humans, as a species, have a remarkable capacity to adapt rapidly to environmental challenges by cooperating in groups. Our group identities are based on shared norms and beliefs that get reinforced by the group. However, these beliefs are not necessarily egalitarian, fair, or even humane. Our country is currently facing several challenges simultaneously: COVID-19, economic collapse, systemic racism and police brutality. These crises are being exacerbated by clashes of beliefs fostered by different groups: partisanship, anti-science beliefs, xenophobia, nationalism, and racism. We need to combat these beliefs if we are going to adapt and thrive as a society.

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Anti-racism in the NSB Community

The Neuroscience and Behavior (NSB) Graduate Program, in conjunction with the other Interdepartmental Graduate Programs (IDGP) and departments in the College of Natural Sciences, has initiated efforts to combat anti-Black racism and increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community. A group of IDGP students, led by NSB student president Wayne Barnaby and colleagues, launched a petition to the Chancellor and Provost to demand structural changes to support the UMass Black and Brown Community. Neuroscience community members are urged to read and sign the petition, and share it widely throughout our networks.

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UMass Neuroscience Publications – June 2020

This month’s featured researcher is Joseph Bergan. Joe is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences. His lab examines neural circuits underlying social behaviors in rodents. His latest publication to appear in PubMed was published in the journal eNeuro and looks at sex-specific synaptic connections in the medial amygdala. They found anatomical differences in aromatase-expressing circuits that underlie sex-differences in response to social stimuli.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in June. They are just a fraction of the research that occurs on campus. You can click on the PubMed ID to find the publication.

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Director’s Channel, May/June 2020

IONs Director, Paul Katz

In these troubled times, community is very precious. It takes effort to maintain a community when you don’t just bump into people in the hallways or at seminars. We have lost opportunities such as the annual awards dinner to meet and celebrate our students’ accomplishments. Please read about the winners of the Golden Neuron Award and the Vincent Dethier Prize. I am particularly impressed by work of Melise Edwards and Kate Otter, who shared the Early Career Award.  Melise is leading (Mentorship for Under-represented STEM Enthusiasts), which aims to provide representation and mentorship to groups in STEM. She is only a first-year PhD student, but she is an active leader in peer mentorship. Kate Otter has been running a Social Justice Discussion group, which relates social justice to science. I attended the most recent group (via Zoom, of course) and it inspired me to think more deeply about how our perception of the world is determined by our identity and our community. There is a concept in ethology called the Umwelt, which is just German for environment. It refers to how an animal experiences the world. We may think that our own experience of the world is universal and that if anything, animals experience an impoverished version of the world that we see, hear, and smell around us. But, this is far from the truth. Continue reading Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Golden Neuron Awardee 2020: Matheus Macedo-Lima

Each year the Golden Neuron Award is presented to a Graduate or PhD student of the NSB program, in celebration of an exciting finding within the previous year. The awardee, selected by the NSB community, receives a small gift and a certificate. This year Matheus Macedo-Lima received the award for his work in the Remage-Healey Lab, published in Hormones and Behavior, on the role of estradiol in auditory learning in adult zebra finches. Matheus also successfully defended his dissertation last month via Zoom! Double congratulations to Dr. Macedo-Lima are in order! Continue reading Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

The Vincent Dethier Awardee 2020: Andrea Silva-Gotay

Each year, the Vincent Dethier Award, named for the first Director of the NSB graduate program, is given to an NSB student to honor their contribution to the enhancement of the program marked by their outstanding academic and research performance. The NSB Steering Committee proudly chose Andrea Silva-Gotay for the 2020 award. She will receive a cash prize, and a copy of Professor Dethier’s book, “To Know A Fly”. Andrea, working in the Richardson Lab, is being commended for academic and research pursuits, along with her leadership in mentoring and supporting students as future scientists and scholars from various backgrounds.  Congratulation, Andrea!Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

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. Continue reading Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail