June is Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) pride month. It happens in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall riots which occurred at the end of June 1969. Every year, many pride events are held during this month to recognize the impact LGBT people have had in the world. One of the areas where LGBT individuals have made an impact is in science. While the increased visibility of LGBT scientists in recent years has been encouraging, there have been setbacks as well.
Neuroscience research has been revolutionized by technologies such as optogenetics and calcium imaging to manipulate and image neuronal activity. However, we still lack a detailed blueprint of how neural circuits connect in vivo. The only technology that allows for the imaging of neurons and their connections at resolutions high enough to view the components of synapses and cellular organelles is electron microscopy (EM).
2021 has been a great one for the neuroscience program at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. Seven current PNI and Psychology graduate students have been awarded National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate fellowships and two current students got an honorary mention. Moreover, a previous intern who is currently at Stanford University was awarded an NSF fellowship. They represent the diverse research backgrounds, gender and racial diversity at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, something key to the success of PNI as an institution.
In the spring of 2021, the Buschman lab published two studies. The first, “Shared mechanisms underlie the control of working memory and attention” was published in Nature in March 2021. Led by Matthew Panichello, former PNI graduate student and current post-doctoral fellow at Stanford, this study investigates how the brain manipulates objects held in memory.
Throughout our lives, we often encounter events that violate our predictions about the world, or surprises. We encounter these surprises in many facets of life, from movies to breaking news to sports. In sports, surprises may be associated with positive feelings for fans – in fact, a great deal of the attraction for committed sports fans is the surprise that comes from watching teams score.
How does the brain represent the external world? The prevailing view is that specific brain regions perform specialized functions, such as encoding what we see or hear, and these regions interact to produce our holistic sense of experience. Although this view is strongly supported by experimental evidence, there’s a catch: due to technological constraints, most neuroscience experiments focus on parts of the brain that are closest to the external world, not those deep within the brain, offering a skewed picture of how the whole brain represents information.
In February 2021, the Pillow lab published a new study “Extracting the dynamics of behavior in sensory decision-making experiments” in Neuron in collaboration with Ji Hyun Bak (UCSF), Athena Akrami (PNI, now UCL) and C
PNI graduate students Rolando Masis-Obando and Sade Abiodun have created a video in support of our virtual grad recruiting week. Please enjoy.
Paula Brooks and Rolando Masís-Obando have both received the NIH Blueprint Diversity Specialized Predoctoral to Postdoctoral Advancement in Neuroscience (D-SPAN) Award for their graduate work in Kenneth Norman’s Computational Memory Lab. According to Ken, “these awards are a testament to Paula and Rolando's amazing accomplishments thus far, and to their potential to do world-changing science going forward”.
In October 2020, the Pillow lab published their study “Prefrontal cortex exhibits multidimensional dynamic encoding during decision-making” in Nature Neuroscience in collaboration with Valerio Mante (ETH Zurich).
The PNI Viral Core Facility serves the neuroscience community by developing custom-made tools that can help researchers better understand the nervous system. Over the past few years, the viral core has expanded from offering six services and several serotypes of adeno-associated virus (AAV) to offering 13 services and 21 serotypes. Although most orders that the core receives are for AAV, the viral core also produces retrovirus, pseudorabies, rabies and herpes simplex viruses depending on the needs of the researcher.
PNI’s “Empowering diversity and promoting scientific equity at PNI” (EPSP) has been awarded the 2020 BiasWatchNeuro Award for Equity and Inclusivity. EPSP was established by two graduate students, Bri Carvajal and Ken Igarza.
Annegret Falkner, an Assistant Professor in the Princeton Neuroscience Institute, has been awarded an NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. The award supports exceptionally creative early-career investigators pursuing innovative, high-impact research projects. It is one of the most competitive grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health and carries with it $1.5 million in research funding over a five-year period.
EPSP (Empowering Diversity and Supporting Scientific equity at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (PNI)) and the Princeton Neuroscience Institute would like to help you with your PhD application to the Neuroscience program at Princeton University. We are delighted to match you with a Princeton Neuroscience Institute graduate student who would be happy to help review your application material! Amongst the resources we hope to offer are 1-on-1 mentorship and a comprehensive view of the program and its resources.