The 2016 Society for Neuroscience meeting is over. 30,000+ neuroscientists of varying ages, ethnicities, religions, genders, nationalities, and political persuasions came together in San Diego to celebrate their science. I was there with five Albion College students (two of whom presented their research); here are some of my thoughts upon returning from the meeting.
- Students need to be taught how to tell people about their research appropriately. When talking to a:
- senior neuroscientist: “I’m examining the role of NMDA receptors in learning and memory in the earthworm using an escape learning task.”
- fellow students: “I put earthworms in a running wheel and they learn to crawl to turn off a bright light. Some get a drug that blocks learning in rats; if it has a similar effect in the worms this will tell us if the neural mechanisms of learning are conserved across evolution.”
- person sitting by you on a plane: “I study learning in earthworms to see if their brains work the same way as ours. If so, it will tell us about how memory works, and maybe someday lead to a cure for Alzheimer’s.”
- Neuroscientists are friendly, and like to help students.Several prominent colleagues agreed to meet with my students to discuss their science and to offer advice and guidance. We had dinner with Debra Bangasser, afternoon snacks with Colin Saldanha and Steve Ramirez, and visited with Ramachandran at his lab.
- Albion neuroscience alums rock!I was fortunate enough to see a few of them present their research, and I caught up with many others at our alumni get-together.
- Some talks are great; others are not worth attending.
- Including optogenetics in a behavioral study does not by itself make it a good study.
- Speakers need to honor their time constraints.
- My friends rock!
- Julio Ramirez was honored as one of the founders of Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience.
- Bruce Johnson received SfN’s Educator of the Year award.
- Many un-acclaimed friends contribute to our knowledge and mentor fabulous students.
- There are still many great avenues of research out there, just waiting to be explored.
Some photos from the meeting appear below. To see all of my photos go here.