Category Archive: Events

Middle TN Chapter hosts Happy Hour fundraiser

Chapter President Aurelio Galli and VBI Director Ron Emeson hosted a pasta and beer Happy Hour on Friday September 16 on the MRBIII terrace. The event was well attended and everyone had a great time enjoying the food and company! Proceeds from Ron’s famous homemade pasta and Yazoo draft beer, as well as bartender tips, benefit the Middle Tennessee Chapter’s commitment to neuroscience outreach programs. 20160916_162139 20160916_163751 20160916_163757

Photos courtesy of Aurelio Galli, PhD.

2015 Fall Social a Success: Thanks, Yazoo!

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On Wednesday, October 28, the Chapter co-hosted the 2015 Fall Social with the Neuroscience Student Organization (NSO) of Vanderbilt University.  Members of both organizations provided snacks (including gelatin brains!) and Yazoo Brewing Company generously provided refreshments!









Photos courtesy of Eddie Hickman.

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  • MTSfN NSO Halloween Social 2015

2015 Fall Social

Attend the Fall Social!

Attend the Fall Social!

The Middle TN Chapter, Society for Neuroscience (MTNCSfN) and Neuroscience Student Organization (NSO) would like to cordially invite everyone to attend our Fall social.  Members, please invite any rotation students and neuroscience enthusiasts to attend. If you haven’t updated your membership you can do so by visiting our website and using PayPal or at the social with one of our current officers.  Your membership dues to the chapter are the critical way to support future socials and outreach initiatives like the summer undergraduate research program. It’s only $10 for trainees and $20 for faculty, so please take a few minutes and update your dues. Don’t wait! We hope to see many of you there at MRB III at Vanderbilt! If you’re coming from off campus, you should be able to park on the street by the Wesley Place Garage and Scarrit Bennett.  Feel free to contact our officers for more information.





2015 SERPENT student presents at VSSA symposium

2015 SERPENT student Leah Burgess with MTNCSfN president, Kevin Currie. Photo courtesy of Eun-Sook Lee.

2015 SERPENT student Leah Burgess with MTNCSfN president, Kevin Currie. Photo courtesy of Eun-Sook Lee.

Leah Burgess, Austin Peay State University undergraduate, is pictured at the VSSA 13th Annual Research Symposium by her poster, “Neuroimaging in Affective Neuroscience: From Data Collection to Analysis.” The poster summarized her work in Dr. David Zald’s lab in the Department of Psychology for 10 weeks this summer. Burgess was sponsored by the chapter’s SERPENT program and the generous support of Dr. Zald to participate in VSSA (Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy) this year, and VSSA events culminated in the symposium where students present their projects. As part of SERPENT, Leah also prepared a slideshow for neuroscience education, which will be added to the chapter website as soon as it is available.

2015 Annual Chapter Meeting and Membership Drive

Lauren Bryant (left) and Nicole Baganz, Ph.D. (right), shake hands with chapter President, Kevin Currie, Ph.D. after being voted winners of the 2015 Data Blitz.

Lauren Bryant (left) and Nicole Baganz, Ph.D. (right), shake hands with chapter President, Kevin Currie, Ph.D. after being voted winners of the 2015 Data Blitz. Photo provided by Dipanwita Ghose, Ph.D. (MTNCSfN postdoc representative).


Our Annual Chapter Meeting was held on May 20, 2015, and we thank everyone who was able to participate.

Between faculty short talks by Brian Hock, Ph.D. (Austin Peay State University) and Ram Ramachandran, Ph.D. (Vanderbilt University), trainees presented their research in 3-minute talks for the fourth annual Data Blitz.  Winners of the Data Blitz were chosen by votes of the chapter members in attendance for a $50 prize! Congratulations to graduate student winner Lauren Bryant (Mark Wallace lab, Vanderbilt) and postdoc winner Nicole Baganz, Ph.D. (Randy Blakely lab, Vanderbilt)!



Below is the original meeting announcement with additional details.

The 2015 Annual Meeting and reception of The Middle Tennessee Chapter of Society for Neuroscience (MTNCSfN) will be held Wednesday, May 20th at 4:00pm in room U1220 of MRB3, Vanderbilt University. Join us for the following:


Faculty short talks

Brian Hock, PhD

(Austin Peay State University)


Ram Ramachandran, PhD

(Vanderbilt University)


Trainee datablitz competition
The Middle TN Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience (MTNCSfN) can nominate graduate students and postdocs for Travel Awards to attend the SfN meeting this year in Chicago.

Travel award nominees and mentors must be members of MTNCSfN and SfN, so join or renew today!

Nominees MUST participate in the Data Blitz at the MTNCSfN Annual meeting (May 20th). The Data Blitz will involve 3‐minute talks by graduate student and post doctoral trainees about your research.  Prizes ($50) will be awarded to best student and post doc talks as judged by the audience by ballot. The deadline to sign up for the data blitz is May 13th.  See flyers linked below for more details.

MTNCSfN travel awards 2015

MTNCSfN annual meeting 2015



Join us for the informal reception / social for all attendees following the talks with snacks assorted beverages!

March is Brain Awareness Month, Brain Blast another success

Each year, the chapter participates in Brain Blast as an educational outreach activity.  The event was held at Vanderbilt 100 Oaks on March 7.  For more information about Brain Blast and Brain Awareness Month, see this article in the VUMC Reporter.

As a fun neuroscience activity, we polled participants about how they see a dress that went viral on the internet for a debate about whether it is white and gold or blue and black.  From 93 participants at Brain Blast, 68% voted blue black while 28% voted white gold and 4% said that their perception flipped between blue black and white gold.  Here is a clip of a news brief with the famous dress and the science behind our color perception and illusions.–or-white-and-gold–dress-405695555960Dress Color Perception Poll 2015

Brain Blast 2015

MTNCSfN postdoc representative (seated) Dipanwita Ghose and graduate student representative Eddie Hickman at Brain Blast 2015. Photo by Bruce Carter, past-president MTNCSfN

SERPENT now accepting applications

ApplyNowThumbnail150x150-01MTNCSfN is pleased to announce that we are accepting applications for the summer research program, SERPENT, for 2015.  The deadline is March 14, 2015.  Please find more information and the application form within the Summer Program tab on our website.

We thank the Society for Neuroscience and the SfN Global Membership Committee for selecting our chapter grant application, as this award will partially fund the SERPENT program. We also thank our chapter members, as your dues and donations go toward funding this important outreach educational program.

Pooja Balaram wins SfN 2014 Graduate Travel Award

In more good news from the SfN 2014 meeting, our chapter nominee, Pooja Balaram from the Kaas lab at Vanderbilt, won the SfN Graduate Student Travel Award. She presented her poster separately at the Travel Awards Poster Session on Saturday, November 15, and received her award at the Chapter Awards Reception on Monday, November 17.  Dr. Eun-Sook Lee, MTNCSfN secretary/treasurer, attended the poster session and expressed the congratulations of the chapter.

Pooja also was honored by the Cajal Club at their SfN-sponsored social on Sunday, November 16, where she received the Kreig Cortical Scholar Award, which is awarded to a junior neuroscientist who has conducted exemplary research on the cerebral cortex and/or its connections.  Her advisor, Dr. Jon H. Kaas, was also recognized at the Cajal Club event with the Sanford L. Palay – John Wiley Award, given to Ray Guillery and Jon Kaas.  Pooja defended her dissertation on October 24th before the SfN meeting, and in January she will be Dr. Balaram, postdoc in Dr. Dan Polley’s lab at Harvard Medical School, specifically the Eaton Peabody Laboratories in the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.  Many congratulations, Pooja!

Thanks also to Pooja Balaram for information and Eun-Sook Lee for the photograph from the Travel Awards Poster Session at SfN!


Pooja Balaram presented her poster at the 2014 Travel Awards Poster Session on Saturday evening at the annual SfN meeting. Photo courtesy of Eun-Sook Lee, who attended on behalf of the chapter.

Alex Maier receives SfN Career Development Award

am2014logoCongratulations to Dr. Alex Maier!  From the Vanderbilt News story linked here, Assistant Professor of Psychology Alexander Maier received the Society for Neuroscience’s Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award for 2014. Although the award was announced in advance, the Annual SfN Meeting was held November 15-19 in Washington, D.C.

Chapter members, you may recall that Dr. Maier was a featured speaker at our Annual Chapter Meeting in May, where he briefly presented his research in his talk, Seeing the invisible – single neuron responses in visual cortex to illusory stimuli.  For more information, please follow the links above to the news story and the Maier lab web page. Congratulations again on this recognition of your research, Alex!

photo courtesy of Alexander Maier for David Salisbury's article on the Research news @ Vanderbilt site (

photo courtesy of Alexander Maier for David Salisbury’s article on the Research news @ Vanderbilt site (

Annual Chapter Meeting Highlights

Max Joffe Jennifer Walker

Max Joffe and Jennifer Walker, Ph.D. pictured after winning the Data Blitz at the MTNCSfN Annual Meeting for the graduate student and postdoc categories. Photo courtesy of F. Eddie Hickman at the reception for the annual meeting.

Our Annual Chapter Meeting was held on May 14, 2014, and we thank everyone who was able to participate. In between faculty talks from Dr. Brian Nelms (Fisk University)Dr. Akiko Shimamoto (Meharry Medical College), and Dr. Alex Maier (Vanderbilt University), trainees presented their research in 3-minute talks for the fourth annual Data Blitz.  Winners of the Data Blitz were chosen by votes of the chapter members in attendance for a $50 prize!

Congratulations to the graduate student winner, Max Joffe from the Grueter lab, and the postdoc winner, Dr. Jennifer Walker from the Harrison lab!

Pooja Balaram

Pooja Balaram, graduate student in the Kaas lab, is the student nominee for the chapter SfN travel award 2014. Photo provided by Pooja Balaram.

Data Blitz participants were eligible to compete as nominees for Chapter for SfN Travel Awards.  Congratulations and good luck to our graduate student nominee, Pooja Balaram from the Kaas lab, and our postdoc nominee, Dr. Sarah Baum from the Wallace lab.

Sarah Baum, Ph.D.

Sarah Baum, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow in the Wallace lab, is a nominee for the chapter SfN travel award 2014. Photo courtesy of Sarah Baum from Brain Awareness Night at University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Also at the meeting, chapter president Dr. Kevin Currie announced the SERPENT student (Summer Enrichment Research Program in Education and Neuroscience Training) selected by chapter officers for 2014. Kathryn Hook, from Belmont University, is joins Dr. BethAnn McLaughlin’s lab at Vanderbilt for the summer.

As part of the program, Kathryn will create outreach materials related to her summer research project and participate in the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy (VSSA). VSSA includes several different programs in which students conduct a research project under supervision of a faculty preceptor, attend weekly seminars, and present a research poster at a concluding symposium. Project resources from previous SERPENT students are posted on our website Resources page. Membership in the chapter and donations help fund this great program, so please check our website for more details about the SERPENT program and joining or renewing your Membership.

Here is a little more about this year’s SERPENT student from the McLaughlin Lab website. Kathryn says: My name is Kathryn Hook and I am currently a sophomore undergraduate neuroscience major at Belmont University. I’m pretty much obsessed with neuroscience and have a passion for helping people. I am leaning toward pursuing the medical side of a career in neuroscience (possibly neurology with clinical research).  At Belmont, I am a member of the Student Activities Programming Board, Psychology club, AED, Pathways STEM Scholarship program, Towering Traditions Leaders, and I am a tutor for the athletic department.

Kathryn Hook

Kathryn Hook from Belmont University was selected to as our SERPENT student for 2014. Photo from the McLaughlin Lab website.

Outside of school, I have been jump roping competitively for the past twelve years. I absolutely love the sport of jump rope! It has led me to many different areas of the world, introducing me to all kinds of people! I’m all for adventures-trying new things, meeting new people, and traveling. I couldn’t be more excited to get to work in the McLaughlin Lab this summer!”

Attend the Annual Chapter Meeting, Compete for Awards!

The annual meeting of The Middle Tennessee Chapter of Society for Neuroscience (MTNCSfN) will be May 14th at 4pm in room U1220 MRBIII, Vanderbilt University.

If you’re coming from off campus, you should be able to park in Public Parking Spaces in the Wesley Place Garage (spaces 52-170) on 21st Ave & Scarritt Place or along the street at the Garage.  See Visitor Parking Information here for more options and details.  MRBIII (Medical Research Building 3) is located at 465 21st Avenue S.


Data blitz competition: there will be a data blitz competition (3-5 minute talks) for graduate students and post docs. The winners, as judged by the audience, will each receive $50 (one student and one post doc). To participate in the data blitz please email before the May 9th deadline.


Short format faculty talks:

Alex Maier, PhD

Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University

“Seeing the invisible – single neuron responses in visual cortex to illusory stimuli“


Brian Nelms, PhD

Assistant Professor, Fisk University

“The transcription factor FKH-8 controls dopaminergic neuron function in C. elegans


Akiko Shimamoto, PhD

Assistant Professor, Meharry Medical College

“Individual differences in stress reactivity and its influence on cocaine self-administration”


Refreshments will be served following the talks.


Graduate student and post-doc travel awards: the Chapter can nominate one student and one post-doc for SfN travels awards to attend the annual meeting in Washington DC. To be considered for travel award nominations you must participate in the data blitz. See the files linked below for applications and more information.


MTNCSfN travel awards

Chapter Graduate Student Travel Award Application 2014

Chapter Postdoctoral Trainee Travel Award Application 2014

MTNCSfN-Membership form

MTNCSfN meeting program flyer

Brain Blast kicks off Brain Awareness Month

WHAT? Brain Blast 2014

WHO? Kids from Kindergarten to 8th grade and anyone curious about the brain

WHEN? Saturday, March 1st, from 9 AM to 1 PM (Free and open to the public!)

WHERE? Vanderbilt Health, One Hundred Oaks, 719 Thompson Lane, Nashville, TN 37204, Entrance D, 1st floor

From Bill Snyder of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Reporter, “Brain Blast,” a half day of free, hands-on activities for children and adults, will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, March 1, at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, 719 Thompson Lane.

On the first floor of Entrance D, Vanderbilt University students and neuroscientists help participants “build a neuron,” experiment with DNA, and touch a real brain.

“Brain Blast” is a highlight of Vanderbilt’s annual Brain Awareness Month, sponsored by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute to raise awareness about brain disorders and neuroscience research.

The public is invited to attend two other free “Brainstorm” events. See more at the Reporter:


This year, 2013 SERPENT student Matthew Defenderfer joined the Neuroscience Students Organization and members of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute at Brain Blast 2014.  Matthew presented the outreach materials he prepared as part of the summer research program.  As posted in the VUMC Reporter, the March 1 Brain Blast event at Vanderbilt Health One Hundred Oaks, sponsored by the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, attracted 268 children and about 100 adults to free, hands-on activities. See more at

2014 Brain Blast

8-year-old Liam Aaronson extracts DNA from strawberries, assisted by his father, Oran Aaronson, M.D., center, and Ronald Emeson, Ph.D.
(photo by Anne Rayner)

MTNCSfN-NSO Halloween Party

Join the MTNCSfN and NSO for our annual Fall Social and Halloween Party in the MRB III 1st floor atrium at Vanderbilt at 5:10 pm (after the neuroscience seminar) on Wednesday, October 30. We’ll provide the food and drinks–and a prize for the costume contest!  We will also announce the new officers who were elected for MTNCSfN at the party.


Congratulations to our newly elected officers!  The 2-year terms begin January 2014.

President: Kevin Currie, Vanderbilt

Secretary/Treasurer: Eunsook Lee, Meharry

Postdoctoral Representative: Dipanwita Ghose, Vanderbilt

Student Representative: F. Eddie Hickman, Vanderbilt

2013 SERPENT Student Presents Research

Matthew Defenderfer SERPENT 2013

Matthew Defenderfer presented his research poster at the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy symposium on August 1, 2013.

On August 1st, Matthew Defenderfer of Tennessee Tech presented his summer research on multisensory integration in spatial localization at the Vanderbilt Summer Science Academy Symposium poster session. Matthew spent the summer doing research in the Mark

Wallace lab and participating in VSSA events as the MTNCSfN SERPENT student for 2013 and the symposium marks the end of the summer research training.

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