Author: snl

How to reserve a neuroscience conference room

Today I learned that some might not know how to reserve the conference rooms at CNS and Med Neuro. Here’s a quick guide:
1) Point your browser to
2) Scroll down on the “Site contents” list on the left to the 2 CNS calendars and pick the one you want (CNS 113 or Med Neuro 320).
3) Click on “<<” and “>>” to navigate by month. Make sure the conference room you want is available when you want it.
4) Once you’ve found your date(s) and time(s), click on “Add Single Event” or “Add Repeating Event.”
5) Enter all your reservation information. Importantly make sure that you’ve got your AM and PM correct.
6) Click submit.
Note: Remember that a human authorizes these so it may take a few days. If you don’t hear back in a few days you may want to email Cristeta.

NGG Travel Funding Opportunities

Get funds

Go to all the places

Having spent several years working the grad travel funding system, it’s time to share some wisdom.  We’ve found that there are many travel award opportunities for Neuroscience Ph.D. students that require very little work from you! Usually, these awards will reimburse you for legitimate travel costs (e.g. flights, hotels, food) to conferences you present at or even just attend. See each for more details, and ask your questions of us in the comments section too. Also, odds for winning are higher than most other awards for which you’ll ever apply.

From UC Davis:

-First is the great GSA Travel Award: deadlines in May/December and you can win every time. Plus, when you don’t apply, you should volunteer to judge, and see exactly what the award criteria are for your next application.

-The UCD Office of Graduate Studies offers a generous conference Travel Award, which you can win once. Still, one pile of free money is better than zero piles of free money.

-Make sure to apply for the UCD Internal Fellowships every November. You make a common application that gets submitted to multiple fellowships based on certain information about you (from your program to your social/ethnic background). This is how Ling Wong, Sam Lockhart, and Julie Luu won Schwall fellowships for $5K each to spend on travel/research funds for a year!  Whether your lab currently has funding or not, you should apply because it’s easy and painless.  It is also NEVER TOO EARLY to apply — some fellowships are only eligible to students who have not yet advanced to candidacy, and others are only available only to those who have.

From SfN:

-The Society for Neuroscience also offers travel awards, if you have an abstract already accepted.

-Our local SfN Chapter also often has awards: see your SfN representative (Karen Zito just sent an email about this) for details.

From training courses / workshops.

Cold Spring Harbor and Woods Hole offer travel grants to those accepted to their summer workshops and courses. The Grass Foundation has a fellowship too, which is another way to get to Woods Hole.

From Uncle Sam:

-Of course, there are the well-known fellowships from NSF (years 1 + 2) and the NRSA F31(after advancing to candidacy) that can also support travel costs.

Do you homework — find specialized funding that fits you:

-Check out if the other conferences related to your field also have travel awards (they often do).  For example, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society has a Graduate Travel Award, but requires submission of a poster and the winner to give a platform presentation at a symposium as well. But hey, that’s free publicity.  

-Check whether professional associations related to your field (e.g. chemistry, biology) have awards.  For example, the American Psychological Society and the American Psychological Association have awards.  The Northern California/Nevada Alzheimer’s Association chapter offers awards for travel to their local conference, and there are also travel fellowships for the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (believe me, there is a lot of work not directly associated with AD there).  There are funds from the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR/Glenn) if your work is even remotely related to aging.

-Check out whether relevant publishers give out awards.  For example, there is an award from the publisher of Cognitive Neuropsychology for travel to any related conference.

-Find organizations (usually non-profits) who fund patient work related to your field.  It helps to start paying attention to the last slide in speaker’s presentations, where they acknowledge their funding sources.

-Speaking of foundations, the ARCS fellowship makes a call for applications every November or so, which you submit through the graduate program. Jimmy Dooley won $10K this year!

We acknowledge this list is cog/aging-heavy; please add your thoughts in the comments. This is far from an exhaustive list. Finally, read the emails you get from Cristeta! They may feel like spam, but there are funding opportunities hidden in them!

-Sam Lockhart, with contributions by Andrea Quintero, Ling Wong, Anahiti Hamidi, Rick Addante

Sequestration and Science Funding

I know you’re all pretty tired of politics right now. We’ve have a presidential election to deal with, plus local and state propositions. But you should also be concerned about a looming political issue called “sequestration.”
Sequestration means that if Congress doesn’t agree to a deficit reduction deal in its lame-duck session before the end of the year, there will be large (~9%) cuts to most kinds of government spending in January 2013–including defense and discretionary (read: NIH) spending.
I’ll provide some links and let you decide whether you think sequestration is a good or a bad thing. If you think it is important, and something needs to be done, then it is time to contact your representatives! If you live in Davis, I’ve pasted their info below. They’re on recess right now; some are campaigning, but all are supposed to be convening with residents of their home districts. They’re being paid to listen to you right now, so bug them. Good luck!
Member Name (DC Phone & Contact Form)
Senator Dianne Feinstein (D- CA) 202-224-3841
Senator Barbara Boxer (D- CA) 202-224-3553
Representative Mike Thompson (D – 01) 202-225-3311
Representative Dan Lungren (R – 03) 202-225-5716

Advances in Alzheimer’s Research Presented at 2012 International Conference

Last week, over 4000 scientists, clinicians and policymakers traveled to beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia, for the 2012 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC).  Conference sessions focused on research, policy, prevention, and treatment of aging and diseases of aging.  While Alzheimer’s pathology and dementia were at the fore, subjects were from a diverse range of fields including epidemiology, electrophysiology, molecular biology, genetics, pharmacology, neuroimaging, psychiatry and psychology.

I attended not only as a poster presenter, but also as a recipient of a Student Volunteer Travel Fellowship from ISTAART, the International Society to Advance Alzheimer’s Research and Treatment.  Along with 11 other students from labs all over the world, including fellow UCD graduate student Alexandra Roach, I was honored with a free trip to this conference in exchange for helping Association staff to organize and run symposia and poster sessions during the 6-day event.  The fellowship position provided a great opportunity to meet many distinguished scientists and potential future employers while still granting some time to see the science and the sights.

Vancouver Convention

North and West Vancouver viewed from the Convention Center

Research into Alzheimer’s disease is at an exciting yet extremely challenging crossroads.  While we have increased what we know about neurodegenerative disease and potential preclinical signs, we still lack preventative or even disease-modifying treatments for many diseases, including Alzheimer’s, the 6th-leading cause of death in the US.  Major breakthroughs in detection, prevention, and treatment seem just out of grasp, while federal funding outlooks in many countries remains bleak.  The need has never been greater for basic scientists to undertake outreach to the public and advocacy to our representatives, for the cause and survival of research.

Downtown Vancouver

Downtown Vancouver at night, seen across the English Bay

Vancouver, for its part, is an amazing city, with great restaurants, entertainment, and outdoor activities.  Having never been there before, I never thought it would be so dense and urban yet close to the wild, and so diverse and vibrant yet unassuming.  In these few photos I can barely capture the spirit of Vancouver.

Vancouver Sunset

Vancouver sunset over the mountains just outside of town

Next July will be the 25th meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association in Boston, MA, the first time this conference will be held in the contiguous US in several years.  This and other local events, such as the Memory Walk (October) and the regional Alzheimer’s Association Researcher’s Symposium (June), provide multiple opportunities for scientists in a broad array of fields studying aging and neurodegenerative disease to share research updates and engage in public outreach.

Vancouver Olympic

Olympic Cauldron from 2012 Olympic Games in Vancouver