Category Archive: Photos

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.

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

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 (

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)

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.

Chapter Award Nominee Organizes NAMI Walk Participants

Nicole Baganz, Ph.D. was nominated by MTNCSfN in part for her work to organize participants in the 2012 National Alliance  on Mental Illness (NAMI) Walk in Nashville, TN on April 14.  NAMI supports families coping with mental illness by providing access to services and treatments, promoting research, and raising awareness of and erasing the stigma associated with mental illness through outreach and educational programs in the community.”Team “Blues Busters” raised over $1500 for NAMI.

A group of students, staff and faculty from the Vanderbilt Brain Institute and Conte Center for Neuroscience supported the outreach efforts of the local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness at the 2012 NAMI Walk. Team BluesBusters raised over $1500 for NAMI and had the largest team participating in the event.

Fall Social and Membership Drive

The Middle TN Chapter for the Society for Neuroscience (MTNCSfN) and Neuroscience Student Organization (NSO) cordially invites everyone to attend our Fall social held directly after the Neuroscience Research Nanosymposium at 5:10 pm on October 26th on the 3rd Floor Lobby of MRBIII (Vanderbilt). We will have  refreshments, music, and iTunes gift cards as door prizes. Please invite any rotation students and neuroscience enthusiasts to attend the nanosymposium and then stick around for the social. The MTNCSfN will use this opportunity to welcome our new chapter officers, so please come and support the new faces of the chapter.

If you haven’t updated your membership you can do so by visiting Your membership dues to the chapter are the critical way to support future socials and outreach initiatives like the summer undergraduate research program which we started for the first time this year. It’s only $10 for students and $20 for non-students, so please take a few minutes and update your dues. Don’t wait!  If you’re coming from off campus, you should be able to park on the street by the Wesley Place Garage and Scarrit Bennett for free after 5 pm.

See photos from the event!

  • Fall Social 2011 Bird’s Eye View
  • Pumpkin Painting Fall 2011
  • Fall Fun 2011

Brain Lotto Winner Selected

Graduate Student Mary Baldwin won the Brain Lotto Fund-Raiser and is pictured with MTNCSfN (Past) President Vivien Casagrande and her husband ‘Mac’

The winner of Brain Lotto Fund-Raiser was announced on July 6, 2011 during the Neuroscience Forum at  Vanderbilt University.  Participants bought “lottery tickets” to win a prize, with the money from the tickets going toward funding the SERPENT summer research program for undergraduate students. Graduate Student Mary Baldwin won the lottery, which awarded her the treat of cutting her own marble pizza stone on site and inviting 10 of her friends to make traditional Neapolitan Pizza cooked on a marble stone in an outdoor oven at the home of the President of MTNCSfN and her husband.

2011 Brain Lotto Prize


MTNCSfN (Past) President Vivien Casagrande hosted a Neapolitan pizza-making party at her home as the prize for the winner of the “TN Brain Lotto” Mary Baldwin and 10 guests.  Event photos courtesy of Barbara O’Brien. Captions for individual photos in the gallery can be viewed by clicking on the thumbnail image below the slideshow. See previous post for more description of the event.

Safety First! Mary Baldwin dons safety goggles before learning to cut a marble pizza stone



  • Brain Lotto Mary Vivien Mac
  • Brain Lotto Mary Baldwin Adam Wegner Pooja Balaram
  • Brain Lotto Andrew Hardaway
  • Brain Lotto Barbara O’Brien Andrew Hardaway
  • Brain Lotto Pizza
  • Brain Lotto Reuben Fan
  • Brain Lotto Pooja Balaram Pizza
  • Brain Lotto Pooja Balaram
  • Brain Lotto Pizza-Making
  • Brain Lotto Eva Sawyer
  • Brain Lotto  Mary Baldwin Adam Wegner
  • Brain Lotto Mary Baldwin