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 MUSEmentorship.com (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

Student and Postdoc Spotlight

Congratulations to Annabelle Flores-Bonilla for being awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship (GRPF). Annabelle will be starting as a first year Neuroscience and Behavior PhD student in Heather Richardson’s lab.

Emily Rothwell, a postdoc in the Agnès Lacreuse’s lab, was awarded a Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology travel award to present her work on sleep and cognition in the common marmoset. Continue reading Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

UMass Neuroscience Publications – April/May 2020

This month’s featured researcher is Courtney Babbitt. Courtney is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology. Courtney researches how cis-regulatory element evolution affects phenotypic evolution. In particular, she has investigated brain evolution in humans and other primates. She is the senior author on a review that appeared in PubMed this month examining technological progress in elucidating the role of metabolic changes in human brain evolution.

Here’s what else is new for ‘ ”University of Massachusetts” AND Amherst AND neuroscience’ in PubMed. These publications appeared on line in April and May. 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 – April 2020

Zoom screen shot of IONs Director Paul Katz

I am very proud of the way that UMass is working to keep people safe in this extraordinary time. For up-to-date information go to https://www.umass.edu/coronavirus. I am also thankful for the way that our neuroscience community is pulling together to maintain contact while remaining physical distant. Like everywhere else in the nation, classes, lab meetings, and seminars are being held by Zoom.  We have a Slack Workspace for people to contact each other (http://umassneuroscience.slack.com) including a channel to share COVID-19 information. NSB Students and postdocs have created structure in their lives by organizing accountability buddies (aka Accountabilibuddies) who check in on each other regularly.

It goes without saying that this pandemic is creating extraordinary suffering. It is likely to get worse before it gets better. Yes, it’s sad that research projects have been interrupted. Yes, it’s sad that conferences and seminars have been canceled, including our annual Interdisciplinary Neurosciences Conference. All of our Distinguished Neuroscience Lectures have been rescheduled for 2021. These cancellations and delays are essential measures to flatten the infection curve. Conferences will be rescheduled, life will pick up again on the other end of this calamity. As a privileged academic, I can safely stay at home and work on papers and grants. I have been encouraging my students to use this down time productively by reading the literature more deeply. It’s a chance to learn and think more thoroughly about their projects. I’m hoping that this enforced stop to lab work will result in better planned research going forward and more thorough understanding of the published literature.  Together, we will pull through as a community.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

UMass Neuroscience Publications – March 2020

This month’s featured researcher is Richard van Emmerick. Richard is a professor in the Department of Kinesiology in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences. His lab studies motor control and coordination, applying principles from complex and nonlinear dynamical systems to the study of posture and locomotion. More specifically, they examine mechanisms of balance and gait disorders due to aging and neurological disease, such as Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). This month, a publication of theirs appeared in PubMed related to MS patients.

Here’s what else is 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. You can click on the PubMed ID to find the publication. Continue reading Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail

Director’s Channel – March 2020

IONs Director, Paul Katz

Wow, the breadth of neuroscience special events going on in March at UMass is astounding from Biomedical engineering to primate cognition. Leading off on March 2nd, we have Judson Brewer coming to the Old Chapel to talk about mindfulness and addiction. There will be a reception after his talk. March 6th is another special talk by Laurie Santos on primate theory of mind. March 9th, Damien Fair will be giving the CNS Distinguished Scientist and Engineer Lecture and March 11th Danielle Lee will be giving a BRIDGE lecture. Later in the month, Lynn Nadel will be giving a Neuroscience Distinguished Lecture on the nature of memory and space.

This diversity makes me appreciate the diversity of the Neurosciences. There is no one best way to understand the brain. The human brain is an extraordinarily complicated organ with 100 trillion neurons forming a thousand times more connections. Understanding, how this biological device evolved, how it self-assembles, how it functions to control the body, and how it continuously changes to store memories requires a multitude of approaches.  Continue reading Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedintumblrmail