Nature (and) Neuroscience

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University of Vermont Neuroscience Ph.D. students Estelle Spear, James Bishop, Adrian Dutkiewicz, Alisha Linton, and Matt McCabe attended the first annual Upper New England Graduate Student Neuroscience Retreat on July 18-19, 2015. Nearly 30 students, representing Neuroscience Ph.D. and M.S. programs from University of Vermont, Dartmouth College, University of New England, and University of Maine, attended the retreat. Emily Stephens and Max Mehlman (both of Dartmouth College) and Estelle Spear (University of Vermont) organized the event, which took place in the Dartmouth Class of ’66 Lodge located 15 minutes from Hanover, New Hampshire. The rustic lodge is nestled in the woods with neither vehicle access nor electricity, and is located just steps away from the Appalachian Trail.

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A total of sixteen students presented their research a la chalk-talk style on the front porch of the cabin. Consistent with the spirit of the retreat, the talks were given without the aid of PowerPoint or other technology, a presentation format unfamiliar to most students in a graduate program. Topics ranged from molecular, cellular, systems, and behavioral neuroscience to optical neural techniques and neural engineering.

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Estelle Spear, a rising 4th year in the Neuroscience Graduate Program at UVM, explains her research to other students.

Following the talks, neuroscience discussion continued around the campfire, where students helped troubleshoot or brainstorm for one another’s experiments and bridged connections between universities. In the depths of twilight, students shared their own “horror stories from the lab,” the likes of which would send chills down the spine of any young scientist.

Left to right: Adrian Dutkiewicz (UVM), Matt McCabe (UVM), Taylor Follansbee (UNE), Estelle Spear (UVM), Stephanie Getz (Dartmouth), Aidan McParland (UNE), Laurie Delatour (Dartmouth), center: James Bishop (UVM)
Left to right: Adrian Dutkiewicz (UVM), Matt McCabe (UVM), Taylor Follansbee (UNE), Estelle Spear (UVM), Stephanie Getz (Dartmouth), Aidan McParland (UNE), Laurie Delatour (Dartmouth), center: James Bishop (UVM)

Students had the opportunity to spend the   night in one of the lodge’s various lofts. After the next morning’s farewell breakfast, some students chose to hike local trails surrounding the lodge.

The location of the retreat will rotate annually between Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, with UVM planned to host the event on the shores of Lake Champlain in 2016.

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