The University of Nevada, Reno Institute for Neuroscience Research Retreat, held at the Granlibakken Resort in Lake Tahoe on April 14 and 15, attracted 39 graduate students in the Integrative Neuroscience, Cognitive Brain Science, and Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology graduate programs, 22 faculty members in these programs, and two postdoctoral fellows. The retreat featured platform presentations by five senior graduate students and 28 poster presentations covering research spanning the range of University neuroscience from molecular to physiological to behavioral and cognitive brain science.
The event was initiated by the graduate students to foster communication, strategic planning, team building, and to highlight student accomplishments. It was organized by a steering committee of graduate students along with Jennifer Hoy in the Department of Biology. Support from the Institute for Neuroscience enabled the participants to assemble off-campus for the two-day event.
Retreat activities focused on career development opportunities for the graduate students, including a pre-retreat workshop on the preparation of posters and platform presentations. In addition, poster presentations were evaluated by an online survey that included Best Poster awards to Arnab Biswas ("Slippage Correction in Head Mounted Eyetracking Systems") and Jawshan Ara ("Use of S-cone Mediated Multifocal VEP for Early Diagnosis of Pathology").
The program included presentations from two nationally recognized neuroscientists recruited by the steering committee from a list of nominees developed by the Integrative Neuroscience Program graduate students. The Sierra Nevada Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience supported the keynote presentation "Active Visual Neuroscience in Non-Human Primates" by Dr. Jacob Yates, assistant professor of optometry and vision science at the University of California, Berkeley.
The University’s Center for Integrative Neuroscience supported the keynote presentation “Multisensory Integration with Advanced Bionics" by Paul Marasco, associate professor of biomedical engineering at the Lerner Institute of the Cleveland Clinic. Marasco was recently awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers in the Federal Services.
James Kenyon, director of the Institute for Neuroscience, reviewed the development of the institute to support University neuroscience teaching, research and outreach. In addition to the Research Retreat, the Institute has led the development of two National Institute of General Medical Sciences training grant proposals at the University – the MARC at the University of Nevada, Reno in collaboration with the College of Science – funded last spring, and an Interdisciplinary Basic Biomedical Sciences Training Program, submitted this January. The Institute partnered with the Department of Biology to recruit Theresa McKim as a teaching assistant professor. The Institute is also supporting a weekly seminar program, directed by Tom Kidd, biology professor, bringing outside neuroscience experts to campus, and initiated the "Food for Thought" scientific outreach program with a discussion on "Social Media and the Brain."
Kenyon led a discussion of next steps in the development of the institute, including the development of a position description and recruitment of a new director to be supported by an endowed position. There was a consensus that the institute should be engaged in the undergraduate program with the ability to enhance the program and increase neuroscience capacity through new faculty positions.
Wrapping up the program, Dennis Mathew, co-director of the Integrative Neuroscience Program, led a discussion seeking graduate student feedback and suggestions for strengthening the University’s graduate student training. This lively discussion identified specific programs and activities to be incorporated in the coming formal review of the Integrative Neuroscience Program.
"I would like to thank all participants for their contributions to an extraordinarily successful retreat," Kenyon said.