Skip to main content

Student Seminars


NSC 503 Seminar

Amelia Hines; Andrea Campbell - PhD Candidate

Faculty Evaluators:  Jesse Schallek and Gabriella Sterne

Student Moderator:  Anthony Bryan Crum (Bryan)

 May 20, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

NSC 503 Seminar

Aiesha Anchan; Gavin Magill - PhD Candidate

Faculty Evaluators:  Amy Kiernan and Kenneth Henry

Student Moderator:  Alexis Feidler

 May 13, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

Effects of Developmental Ethanol Exposure on Cerebellar Microglia and Purkinje Cells - Thesis Defense

MaKenna Cealie - PhD Candidate, Neuroscience Graduate Program

Fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD), caused by prenatal alcohol exposure, are the most common cause of non-heritable, preventable mental disability and have no known cure. Physical, cognitive, and behavioral deficits have been reported in FASD, including impairments related to the cerebellum. To elucidate the mechanisms of FASD, we examined microglia, the immune cells of the central nervous system, as well as Purkinje cells, the sole output of the cerebellar cortex, which are both impacted by developmental ethanol exposure. Microglia are dynamic cells and shape neuronal circuit development and connectivity in the cerebellum. However, how cerebellar microglia dynamics and their interactions with neurons are affected by early life exposure to ethanol is unknown. We explored the impact of a third-trimester equivalent binge-level ethanol exposure on cerebellar microglia and microglia-Purkinje cell interactions in adolescent and young adult mice.

We subcutaneously injected Ai9+/-/C3xcr1G/+/L7cre mice with 5.0 g/kg/day of either ethanol or saline from postnatal (P) days 4-9. Mice were then aged to adolescence (P28) and cranial windows were implanted above the cerebellum to allow for two-photon in vivo imaging in both adolescence and young adulthood (P60). We found that in vivo cerebellar microglia dynamics, microglia morphology, and microglia-Purkinje cell interactions were largely unaffected by developmental ethanol exposure in both adolescence and young adulthood. We also examined if a “second-hit” laser ablation injury in young adulthood would uncover differences, but found no changes in cerebellar microglia injury response between ethanol- and saline-dosed animals. We collected the young adults’ brains for confocal imaging to examine a larger number of microglia and Purkinje cells. Microglia density, morphology, and interactions with Purkinje cells were largely unaltered by developmental ethanol exposure. However, Purkinje cell linear frequency was significantly decreased in ethanol-dosed mice.

Overall, we found that cerebellar microglia in adolescent and young adult mice were largely unaffected by developmental ethanol exposure, but Purkinje cells appeared to be more susceptible to its effects. Our work suggests that microglia may return to homeostasis later in life after an early life insult. This work is important to narrow down the mechanisms leading to FASD so future therapies can be developed.

 May 13, 2024 @ 11:00 a.m.

 Medical Center | Lower Adolph Aud. (1-7619)

Host: Advisor: Ania Majewska, PhD

Investigating the critical in vivo role of neuronal PP1β - Thesis Defense

Cody McKee - PhD Candidate, Neuroscience Graduate Program

Protein Phosphatase 1 (PP1) is a major Serine (Ser)/Threonine (Thr) phosphatase responsible for more than half of all Ser/Thr dephosphorylation events in eukaryotic cells. Three genes encode the three major isoforms of PP1 (α, β, and γ). While PP1α and PP1γ are considered major players in synaptic physiology, the neuronal function of PP1β is unknown. Recently, de novo mutations in PP1β have been linked to intellectual developmental disabilities in children, suggesting a critical role for PP1β in the central nervous system. While correlations between PP1 and various other neurodevelopmental/neurodegenerative diseases have been suggested, a causative role for PP1 in many of these contexts has yet to be established. The current study seeks to investigate the neuronal role of PP1β in vivo, and to uncover potential mechanisms by which PP1β influences neuronal function.

A Thy1-Cre mouse line was used to generate neuron specific PP1β conditional KO (PP1β cKO) mice. These mice exhibit a failure to thrive and typically die by 2-3 postnatal weeks. Hippocampal slice recordings demonstrated increased paired-pulse facilitation, suggesting impaired neurotransmitter release. In agreement with studies suggesting activity influences myelination within specific brain regions, we found significantly lower levels of myelin basic protein in the cortex of PP1β cKO mice. Furthermore, to assess the influence of PP1β on myelin function in a predominately activity-independent context, we measured compound action potentials (CAPs) along the optic nerve. Deficits in CAP recordings suggested impaired optic nerve myelination. However, analysis of the electron micrographs failed to detect a significant difference in myelinated axons. Using immunofluorescence, we then uncovered significantly fewer nodes of Ranvier in PP1β cKO mice that could potentially explain the CAP recordings. This deficit in nodes coincided with an increase in phosphorylation of PP1β-specific substrate, myosin light chain, which localizes to nodes of Ranvier. These data suggest a potential role for PP1β in nodal structure that could influence action potential propagation.

To then study the role of PP1β in adolescent mice, we generated a neuron specific inducible PP1β KO mouse line (iKO). These iKO mice exhibit progressive deterioration of hind limb functionality and premature demise at ~4 weeks post recombination. We then uncovered significant changes in various respiratory parameters suggesting a potential mechanism to explain the premature demise. However, while no morphological changes were observed within neuromuscular junctions in the diaphragm, it is possible that neurotransmitter release at these synapses is abrogated, and this will be investigated in the future.

These data support the hypothesis that PP1β alters action potential propagation in a way that disrupts downstream functionality. These results shed light on the role of PP1β and potential mechanisms that could be disrupted by PP1β in pathological states. Future studies will seek to uncover the molecular substrates underlying these effects and provide potential therapeutic targets for diseases in which PP1β functionality may be altered.

 May 10, 2024 @ 2:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-207 (2-6408)

Host: Advisor: Houhui (Hugh) Xia

NSC 503 Seminar

Aishwarya Jayan; Leah Sheppard - PhD Candidate

Faculty Evaluators:  Todd Jusko and Joog-Hoon Nam

Student Moderator:  Thomas Delgado

 May 06, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

The Elizabeth Doty Lecture - "The Internal Focus of Attention"

Anna Christina Nobre, PhD - Wu Tsai Professor of Psychology, Director, Center for Neurocognition and Behavior, Wu Tsai Institute, Yale Univiversity

Dr. Nobre’s talk will discuss her recent studies exploring how we focus attention to contents in working memory. Her findings highlight the flexibility of the internal focus – dynamically and proactively prioritizing or shielding different contents in turn to guide future behavior – as well as its sensitivity to the temporal structure of anticipated events and tasks.


 May 02, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | Lower Adolph Aud. (1-7619)

NSC 503 Seminar

Niki Lam; Tom Scudder - PhD Candidate

Titles:  Disentangling the contributions of enhancement and suppression to selective visual processing - Lam
Cav1.3 Ca+ Current Mediation by the PACAP peptide - Scudder

Faculty Evaluators:  Paul Kammermeir and Robert Freeman

Student Moderator:  Abigail Sawicki

 Apr 22, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

Annual Neuroscience Retreat

Dr. Takao Hensch - Keynote Speaker

 Apr 19, 2024 @ 8:30 a.m.

 Memorial Art Gallery | 

NSC 503 Seminar

Bingyu Sun; Bryan Redmond - PhD Candidate

Titles:  ADDaPT: automated direction discrimination perimetric task for detecting blind field visual abilities - Redmond
The Mechanistic Effects of Cannabidiol in an Amyloidosis Mouse Model - Sun

Faculty Evaluators:  J. Chris Holt and Thomas O'Connor

Student Moderator:  Michael (Mike) Giannetto

 Apr 15, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

NSC 503 Seminar

Erica Squire; Staci Rocco - PhD Candidate

Titles:  Gustatory processing in Drosophila melanogaster and the role of ‘buddy - Squire
Evaluating the Cellular and Molecular effects of Basmisanil: A Potential Rapid Antidepressant for MDD - Rocco

Faculty Evaluators:  Debroah Cory-Slechta and Samuel Norman-Haignere

Student Moderator:  Evan Newbold

 Apr 01, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

NSC 503 Seminar

Amelia Day Hines; Sid Chittaranjan - PhD Candidate, Neuroscience Graduate Program

Titles: Astrocytes modulate synaptic plasticity via norepinephrine - Hines
The Role of Astrocytes in Acute Insulin Resistance - Chittaranjan

Faculty Evaluators:  Jean Bidlack and Brian Keane

Student Moderator:  Victoria Popov

 Mar 25, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

Thesis Defense: "Interfacing with the Cortical Reach-to-Grasp Network using Low-Amplitude Intracortical Microstimulation"

Brandon Ruszala - PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering PhD Program

Abstract: Movement is the primary way people interact with the world. Injuries to the nervous system that disrupt a person’s ability to move (e.g., losing a limb or paralysis) can be devastating. However, the cortical regions that control movement often remain intact and functional offering an interesting potential treatment – communicating with those still-functional brain regions to control a machine and bypass the injuries. In other words, establishing a brain-machine interface (BMI). Focusing on upper-extremity BMIs, robotic arms can be successfully controlled by decoding neurons from motor cortex and improved by delivering sensory feedback to somatosensory cortex with intracortical microstimulation (ICMS). However, controlling BMIs with the speed, accuracy, and precision of natural movements made with native limbs remains a challenge. This dissertation identifies several features of the cortical motor system that could be leveraged to refine BMI control. First, we show that neurons in motor cortex encode instruction modality – a non-kinematic feature that may constitute noise for BMIs trained to decode movement kinematics from those neurons. Accounting for such non-kinematic variation in future decoding algorithms may allow for more accurate decoding of movement parameters from that neural activity. Second, we show low-amplitude ICMS can modulate neurons in distant cortical regions. Initially, we show ICMS delivered in primary somatosensory cortex modulates the activity of neurons across wide territories in primary motor cortex and ventral premotor cortex. Subsequently, we show distant modulation effects can be produced over even greater spatial scale across the entire cortical reach-to-grasp network. For BMIs that concurrently stimulate neurons in some cortical regions while decoding neurons in others, modulation produced by the stimulation in decoded neurons can hinder decoder performance. Incorporating information about distant modulation effects into decoding algorithms could mitigate that hindrance. Finally, we explored the cortical reach-to-grasp network for novel regions in which information can be delivered using ICMS. We found that the ventral premotor cortex and the anterior intraparietal area were effective regions for delivering information, whereas the dorsal premotor cortex and dorsal posterior parietal cortex were ineffective. Future BMIs might deliver more complex information to the brain via those former regions, expanding the bidirectional brain-machine interface.

 Mar 19, 2024 @ 10:00 a.m.

 Medical Center | K-207 (2-6408)

Zoom Link

Host: Advisor: Marc Schieber, MD, PhD

NSC 503 Seminar

Aaron Huynh; Stacey Pedraza - PhD Candidate

Extra presentation by Amber Rivera, MSW, Director of Lerner Life and Wellness

Titles:  “Approach to Evaluate Post-Stroke Motor Rehabilitation” - Huynh
“Macrocyclic Tetrapeptides to Treat Cocaine Use Disorder” - Pedraza

Faculty Evaluators:  Chris Proschel and Kerry O'Banion

Student Moderator:  Yanya Ding

 Mar 18, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

NSC 503 Seminar

Anthony Bryan Crum (Bryan); John Gonzalez Amoretti - PhD Candidate

Faculty Evaluators:  Lars Ross and Ania Majewska

Student Moderator:  Erin Murray

 Mar 04, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

NSC 503 Seminar

Dennisha King; Paige Nicklas - PhD Candidate

Faculty Evaluators:  Harris Gelbard and Marc Schieber

Student Moderator:  Julia Granato

 Feb 26, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

NSC 503 Seminar

Amy Bucklaew; Renee Miller, PhD - PhD Candidate; Professor, BCS

Faculty Evaluators:  Adam Synder and Ian Fiebelkorn

Student Moderator:  Jo Fritzinger

 Feb 19, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

NSC 503 Seminar

Daulton Myers; Jeeyun Kim - PhD Candidate

Faculty Evaluators:  Nathan Smith and Manuel-Gomes-Ramirez

Student Moderator:  Mike DuHain

 Feb 12, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

NSC 503 Seminar

Erin Murray; Margaux Masten - PhD Candidate

Faculty Evaluators:  Juile Fudge and Manoela Fogaça

Student Moderator:  Caitlin Sharp

 Feb 05, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

Connecting the dots between brain microstructure, function, and behavior in rodents using MRI

Tanzil Arefin, PhD - Assistant Research Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Penn State College of Engineering

 Jan 30, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | Ryan Case Method Rm. (1-9576)

Host: Department of Neuroscience and the Del Monte Institute for Neiroscience

NSC 503 Seminar

Abigail Alpers; Tanique McDonald - PhD Candidate

Faculty Evaluators:  Michael Telias and Andrew Wojtovich

Student Moderator:  Matt Adusei

 Jan 29, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

NSC 503 Seminars

Dominic Bunn; Mariah Marrero - PhD Candidate

Faculty Evaluators:  Liz Romanski and John Olschowka

Student Moderator:  Sarah Yabonski

 Jan 22, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | K-307

Notter Lecture - The Bodily Senses

Fan Wang, PhD - Professor, Brain and Cognitive Sciences, McGovern Institute, MIT

The bodily sensations include touch, pain, and our senses of the body's postures and movements.  In this talk, I will describe mostly unpublished studies from my lab on neurons and circuits involved in these bodily senses. 

First, I will describe our discovery of touch neurons that tell the brain "when" is the touch onset with millisecond precision.  This is achieved using in vivo recording from ontogenetically identified touch neurons.  Second, I will talk about pain, both the sensory-discriminative and the emotional aspects of pain.  Note that emotions are inseparable from the body's autonomic responses, and we have discovered that controlling autonomic reactions can control pain perception.  Finally, I will discuss our new studies on how the brain (the sensory cortex) represents body postures and associated behaviors.  We have developed new algorithms that enables full parameterized description of the body postures in freely moving mice, and combined with in vivo recording, we have discovered posture/behavior syllable-related ensembles in the brain.

 Jan 17, 2024 @ 4:00 p.m.

 Medical Center | Ryan Case Methods Rm (1-9576)

Host: University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Department of Neuroscience and the Del Monte Institute for Neuroscience