Category Archives: Director Channel

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.

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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.

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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

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IONs Director’s Channel – Jan 2019

Neuroscience is booming at UMass Amherst.  2018 was a great year and I am very excited about everything that we have coming up for 2019 including Seed Grants, Faculty Forums, a Distinguished Lecture Series and a Neuroscience conference on neuroengineering.

In this past year, we hired SIX new faculty members in neuroscience in four different departments. It is worth remarking that they are all women! Five are assistant professors: Karine Fenelon and Stephanie Padilla in Biology, Changhui Pak in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Bruna Martins in Psychological and Brain Sciences, and Jennifer Mack in Communication Disorders. The latest addition to our Neurosciences faculty is a senior hire, Sarah Pallas in Biology.

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IONs Director’s Channel – Memory is about the future, not the past.

Paul S. Katz
Director of Neurosciences

The UMass Week of Memory and Forgetting has provided me with fresh ideas about the nature of memory and the nature of society itself. It was fitting to begin the week with a reception at the Institute of Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies that featured an address from the Chancellor, who very movingly reflected on the recent mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, surrounded by pictures of atrocities committed by the Nazis. The Provost reflected on Psalm 137, popularly known through the reggae song, “By the Rivers of Babylon”, and the meaning of how collective memory affects us and how we, in turn, change the meaning of the memory over time. Each of the speakers brought a unique viewpoint on memory and its relevance for our lives. Continue reading

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