Brains on brains: Students fill first UMSL Neuroscience Research Showcase

by | Oct 19, 2016

More than 20 students from all different disciplines filled the showcase with brainy research exploring topics from chimera neural oscillators to the psychology of love.
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More than 20 students from all different disciplines presented their brain-related research at the inaugural UMSL Neuroscience Research Showcase in the new Patient Care Center last Friday. (Photos by August Jennewein)

“Viva la brain!” proclaimed Sonya Bahar as she wrapped up her welcome to the first-ever UMSL Neuroscience Research Showcase in the new Patient Care Center last Friday.

The phrase from Bahar, professor of biophysics and director of the Center for Neurodynamics at the University of Missouri–St. Louis, became the running joke of the afternoon program devoted to sharing the different, ongoing UMSL research concerning the brain.

The focus on the third largest human organ brought together several different disciplines from the colleges of arts and sciences and optometry. They included the departments of biology, chemistry and biochemistry, physics and astronomy and psychological sciences. Undergraduate and graduate students from each area presented on things from the Alzheimer’s amyloid-beta protein to the psychology of love to short-wavelength lenses and eye fatigue.

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Students continue to present and talk science and results even after the crowd dies down and the free snacks have been eaten.

“We wanted to have a showcase of neuroscience research at UMSL because there is so much going on here,” Bahar said. “And we wanted it to be informal. No judging and less stress to encourage open sharing of knowledge.”

Bahar also noted that the showcase was a great way to extend the faculty family across departments and for students to meet each other.

Tera Glaze, a doctoral student in physics who has both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in the discipline from UMSL, was presenting her master’s research on chimera behavior in Huber-Braun neural oscillators that afternoon. She was one of 24 student poster presentations.

“It was actually kind of fun!” said Glaze, who had previously been a bit nervous about presenting. “People came up, asked me what I was researching, and I got a chance to explain what I’ve been working on for so long.”

A lecture on circadian clocks and the brain by Erik Herzog, professor of biology at Washington University in St. Louis, preceded the presentation part of the afternoon.

Sponsors of the research showcase included Assaypro and the following UMSL units: Center for Neurodynamics, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Optometry, Department of Philosophy, Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Department of Psychological Sciences.

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