IGERT Video Poster Competition Voting Open

Tony Ng (a grad student in Paul Miller’s lab in Neuroscience) writes:

I’m entering a nationwide video/poster competition organized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) under the IGERT program.  There are over 100 three-minute-videos/posters in the competition.  The videos/posters are divided into 18 fields, all of which are multidisciplinary.  Mine covers cognition/biology/physics.

The competition has a Public Choice award.  Winning the award requires Facebook “likes” on my page.  I need on the order ~1000 “likes” to be in contention.  The bar has been raised from last year’s.  The competition is fierce.  Each/every vote from the Brandeis community counts!

The competition opens today (5/21) and ends Thursday (5/23) at 10pm.  For a vote to count, it is imperative to click on the “Public Choice” button, which would then trigger a Facebook “like” sign-in.  Anyone with an existing Facebook account can contribute.

Here’s the link to my 3-minute video/poster:

http://posterhall.org/igert2013/posters/402

Act now! Tthe competition closes on Thursday at 10pm!

Hope you enjoy the videos!

Update (2 pm):

Andrew Russell from the Petsko-Ringe lab also has a poster in the competition on studying Aβ oligomers to understand Alzheimer’s Disease – check it out — vote early, vote often?

http://posterhall.org/igert2013/posters/416

Computational Neuroscience Traineeships for 2013-2014

The Division of Science wishes to announce the availability of Traineeships for Undergraduates in Computational Neuroscience through a grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Traineeships will commence in summer 2013 and run through the academic year 2013-14.

The due date for applications to the new programs will be February 25, 2013.

Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience are intended to provide intensive undergraduate training in computational neuroscience for students interested in eventually pursuing graduate research. The traineeships will provide a $5000 stipend to support research in the summer, and $3000 each for fall and spring semesters during the academic year. Trainees are appointed for at least a year and up to two years.  Current Brandeis sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. In addition, to be eligible to compete for this program, you must

  • have a GPA > 3.0 in Div. of Science courses
  • have a commitment from a professor to advise you on a research project in computational neuroscience
  • have a course work plan to complete requirements for a major in the Division of Science and this program (see below)
  • intend to apply to grad school in a related field.

The curricular requirements are listed on the program website.  The application form is online (Brandeis login required).

Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Winners Announced

It’s April, and planning is well underway for another exciting summer of research at Brandeis. In 2012 we have several new programs to provide financial support for undergraduates doing summer research; winners for several of those programs are announced below.

Jordan-Dreyer Summer Undergraduate Research Assistantships in the Department of Chemistry

Helen Stolyar ’14 (Krauss Lab)
Stephanie Chun ’13 (Krauss Lab)
Brian Williams ’13 (Agar Lab)
Alex de Denko  ’13 (Thomas Lab)
Charlene Liao  ’14 (Pontrello Lab)

Division of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Michal Dichter ’13, Physics/Philosophy, Chakraborty
Lien Phung ’13, Biochemistry, Kern
Shakara Scott ’13, Biochemistry/Chemistry, Pontrello
John Shen ’13, Biology/Chemistry, Thomas
Matthew Zunitch ’13, Neuroscience , Rodal
Elizabeth Allen ’14, Neuroscience/Classical Studies, Paradis
Daniel Boyle ’14, Biochemistry/Neuroscience, Lovett
Kaitlin Hulce ’14, Biochemistry, Pontrello
Michael Kosowsky ’14, Physics/Math, Roberts
Yasmin Marrero ’14, Biology, Katz

Undergraduate Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience

James Chin ’14, Biochemistry, Hedstrom
Gabriel Colton ’13, Psychology/Neuroscience, Gutchess
Brendan Hasz ’13, Neuroscience/Computer Science, P. Miller
James McGregor ’14, Biology, Turrigiano
Brian Slepian ’14, Neuroscience/Computer Science, Marder
Abigail Zadina ’13, Neuroscience, Rosbash

Beckman Scholar

Yisha Cheng ’14, Biology, Lovett

MRSEC Research Experience for Undergraduates Program

Jon Chavis, UMBC, Epstein Lab
Pengfei Li, UMass Dartmouth, Baskaran Lab
Alyssa Schwartz, University of Rochester, Xu Lab
Victoria Wu, Smith College, Chakraborty Lab
Reed Bay, RPI. Dogic Lab
Meaghan Molloy, UMass Amherst, Nicastro Lab

Funding for undergraduate research in Summer 2012

The Division of Science wishes to announce two new opportunities for Brandeis undergraduates seeking funding to support their undergraduate research in Summer 2012 and beyond. First, there are six available Traineeships for Undergraduates in Computational Neuroscience through a new grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In addition, generous alumni donations have enabled us to offer up to ten Division of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Followships. These programs are in addition to the two NSF-funded REU programs sponsored by the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center and the Program in Cell and Molecular Visualization. While the REU programs are primarily aimed at students visiting for the summer from other institutions, the two new programs are aimed at current Brandeis undergraduates.

The due date for applications to the new programs will be February 15, 2012.


Undergraduate Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience

Traineeships in Computational Neuroscience are intended to provide intensive undergraduate training in computational neuroscience for students interested in eventually pursuing graduate research. The traineeships will provide a $5000 stipend to support research in the summer, and $3000 each for fall and spring semesters during the academic year. Trainees are appointed for at least a year and up to two years.  Current Brandeis sophomores and juniors are eligible to apply. In addition, to be eligible to compete for this program, you must

  • have a GPA > 3.0 in Div. of Science courses
  • have a commitment from a professor to advise you on a research project in computational neuroscience
  • have a course work plan to complete requirements for a major in the Division of Science and this program (see below)
  • intend to apply to grad school in a related field.

The curricular requirements are listed on the program website.  The application form is online (Brandeis login required).

Students considering applying for the traineeships are strongly encouraged to sign up for NBIO 136b Computational Neuroscience in Spring 2012.


Division of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships

Division of Science Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships will provide $5000 in stipend support to allow students to do summer research. Students who will be rising Brandeis sophomores, juniors, and seniors in Summer 2012, and working in a lab in the Division of Science at the time of application, are eligible to apply. A commitment from a Brandeis faculty member to serve as your mentor in Summer 2012 is required.

The Division of Science Summer Program will run from May 30 – Aug 3, 2012. Recipients are expected to be in residence during that period, and must commit to presenting a poster at the final poster session on Aug 2, 2012.

The application form is online (Brandeis login required). Questions may be addressed to Steven Karel <karel@brandeis.edu>

A biologically plausible transform for visual recognition

People can recognize objects despite changes in their visual appearance that stem from changes in viewpoint. Looking at a television set, we can follow the action displayed on it even if we don’t look straight at it, if we sit closer than usual, or if we are lying sideways on a couch. The object identity is thus invariant to simple transformations of its visual appearance in the 2-D plane such as translation, scaling and rotation. There is experimental evidence for such invariant representations in the brain, and many competing theories of varying biological plausibility that try to explain how those representations arise. A recent paper detailing a biologcally plausible algorithmic model of this phenomenon is the result of a collaboration between Brandeis Neuroscience graduate student Pavel Sountsov, postdoctoral fellow David Santucci and Professor of Biology John Lisman.

Many theories of invariant recognition rely on the computation of spatial frequency of visual stimuli using the Fourier transform. This, however, is problematic from a biological realism standpoint, as the Fourier transform requires the global analysis of the entire visual field. The novelty of the model proposed in the paper is the use of a local filter to compute spatial frequency. This filter consists of a detector of pairs of parallel edges. It can be implemented in the brain by multiplicatively combining the activities of pairs of edge detectors that detect edges of similar orientations, but in different locations in the visual field. By varying the separation of the receptive fields of those detectors (thus varying the separation of the detected edges), different spatial frequencies can be detected. The model shows how this type of detector can be used to build up invariant representations of visual stimuli. It also makes predictions about how the activity of neurons in higher visual areas should depend on the spatial frequency content of visual stimuli.

Sountsov P, Santucci DM, Lisman JE. A Biologically Plausible Transform for Visual Recognition that is Invariant to Translation, Scale, and Rotation. Frontiers in computational neuroscience. 2011;5:53.

New Computational Neuroscience Training Program

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has recently awarded Brandeis a pair of linked training grants to support student training in computational neuroscience. The program is unusual for NIH training grants in supporting both undergraduate and graduate student research. Funding for the program is approximately $1.8 million over the next five years.

Modeling a biconditional discrimination task, see Bourjaily & Miller, 2011

The program, directed by Professor Eve Marder, will support six Ph.D. students and six undergraduates (juniors or seniors) each year. Students must be working to fulfill an appropriate degree in the Division of Science at Brandeis, and must engaged in research in computational neuroscience. Said Marder,

We are extremely pleased to have received this grant, as it continues a long Brandeis tradition of integrating theory and experimental work in the neurosciences.  We are especially pleased to have the undergraduate component, as we know there are students who are interested in learning how to employ rigorous quantitative methods to study the brain.

Eligibility and program requirements to participate in the program will soon be available at the training grant website.

Some recent publications:

Bourjaily, M.A., and Miller, P. (2011). Synaptic plasticity and connectivity requirements to produce stimulus-pair specific responses in recurrent networks of spiking neurons. Plos Comput Biol 7, e1001091.

Piquado, T., Cousins, K.A., Wingfield, A., and Miller, P. (2010). Effects of degraded sensory input on memory for speech: Behavioral data and a test of biologically constrained computational models. Brain Res 1365, 48-65.

Berkes, P., Orban, G., Lengyel, M., and Fiser, J. (2011). Spontaneous cortical activity reveals hallmarks of an optimal internal model of the environment. Science 331, 83-87.

Grashow, R., Brookings, T., and Marder, E. (2010). Compensation for variable intrinsic neuronal excitability by circuit-synaptic interactions. J Neurosci 30, 9145-9156.

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