NACS Newsletter II CEBH
Published on: Mar 3, 2016
Transcripts - NACS Newsletter II CEBH
Student Grants Review Committee
This year the new Student Grants Review Committee (SGRC) was
formed. Five students have volunteered to serve on the com-
mittee. The goal of the committee is to review NACS students’
grant proposals prior to submission. Students who are interested
must have their proposals as completed as possible and are
strongly encouraged to have them reviewed by NACS Grant spe-
cialist Katie Sacksteder before submission to the SGRC. The com-
mittee will review submissions for the NIH National Research Ser-
vice Award (NRSA) and the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Program (GRFP). Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. For
more information or to have your grant proposal reviewed, please
contact Krystyna Solarana (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Student Representative Committee
Last year NACS created a Student Representative Committee
(SRC). NACS Director Jens Herberholz and NACS students from
each cohort (years 1-5 in the program) serve on the committee.
The committee was established to provide a forum for students to
express the concerns of the NACS student body to the NACS lead-
ership, as well as to brainstorm ideas that will benefit the NACS
community as a whole. The SRC has been instrumental in provid-
ing input on the QE proposal, student teaching, student training
grants, the student grants review committee, and upcoming NACS
events. Currently the SRC is helping the NACS leadership plan a
new symposium event that will be held later this year.
May 2015Volume 2, Issue 2
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program
Pam Receives Outstanding Staff Award
NACS assistant director Pam Komarek has received the 2015
Outstanding Staff Award from the College of Behavioral and So-
cial Sciences. This award recognizes employees whose efforts
have been extraordinary and who provide invaluable daily sup-
port to students, faculty, and administrators. Congratulations!
Semester Research Training Award
NACS students have the opportunity to apply for the new NACS
Semester Research Training Award. The award will provide
funds to a NACS student who wishes to visit another lab for a
semester in order to acquire new expertise in technology or
methodology that is not available in the home laboratory, but is
critical for the student’s development as a researcher and scien-
tist. The award will be granted on a competitive basis and pro-
vides a stipend of ($10,000) as well as additional funds (up to
$2,000) for transportation and lodging expenses.
The selected host lab can be within the US or in a foreign coun-
try. Students can apply for this award even if they don’t plan to
spend a full semester in the host lab as long as they will be able
to master the new skill/technique during a shorter time peri-
od. To learn how to apply and to submit applications, please
contact Katie Sacksteder (email@example.com).
NACS is pleased to announce that the redesign of the
NACS website is completed and the website is now live!
The new website has a clean and modern look with a dy-
namic new home page to display the seven research areas
in the program. The website features a search function
for faculty research interests and methods. A big thanks
to all who worked on the new design, especially Pam Ko-
marek, Emerald Brooks, and Katie Sacksteder. We would
also like to express our gratitude to Marie Gates-Liden,
Laura Ours, and other OACS staff in the College of BSOS
who were responsible for the design and implementation
of this project.
Please check out our website at www.nacs.umd.edu
Our new homepage!
Recent Student Awards
Mehrnoosh Ahmadi, Soc. for Research in Child Development Award Sarah Blankenship, Soc. for Research in Child Development Award
Dan Bryden, Best Poster at the Baltimore Chapter SfN Meeting Amanda Chicoli, Ann G. Wylie Dissertation Fellowship
Allyson Ettinger (Certificate student), NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Ruilong Hu, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Amritha Mallikarjun, NSF Proposal Honorable Mention Srikanth Padmala, NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Shikha Prashad, Sally J. Phillips Dissertation Fellowship Alex Presacco, HESP Earlene Elkins Fellowship Award
Clare Sengupta, ARCS Foundation Scholarship Andrew Venezia, NRSA F31 Pre-Doctoral Research Fellowship
NACS Student Seminars
NACS student seminars were held this semester
on Thursdays in the Bioscience Research Build-
ing. Seventeen student speakers presented their
research. Information on dates and times for
next fall will be announced soon.
Nuria AbdulSaber, Ph.D.
Advisors: Allen Braun
and Bill Idsardi
Mohit Chadha, Ph.D.
Advisor: Cindy Moss
Jong Moon Choi, Ph.D.
Advisor: Luis Pessoa
Yu Gu, Ph.D.
Advisor: Betsy Quinlan
Alice Jackson, Ph.D.
Advisor: DJ Bolger
David Logan, Ph.D.
Advisor: John Jeka
Susan Teubner-Rhodes, Ph.D.
Advisor: Michael Dougherty
Sara Therrien, Ph.D.
Advisors: Catherine Carr
and Art Popper
Recent Student Publications
(students and alumni in bold & italics; faculty in bold)
Baese-Berk, M., Heffner, C.C., Dilley, L.C., Pitt, M.A., Morrill, T., & McAuley, J.D. (2014). Long-
term temporal tracking of speech rate affects spoken-word recognition. Psychological Science,
Bissonette, G.B., Bryden, D.W., and Roesch, M.R. (2014) You won't regret reading this, Nat
Neurosci 17, 892-893.
Choi J-M, S. Padmala and L. Pessoa. (in press). Counteracting effect of threat on reward en-
hancements during working memory. Cognition and Emotion.
Bryden, D.W., and Roesch, M.R. (2015) Executive Control Signals in Orbitofrontal Cortex
during Response Inhibition, J Neurosci 35, 3903-3914.
Burton AC, Nakamura K, Roesch MR. From ventral-medial to dorsal-lateral striatum: neural
correlates of reward-guided decision-making. Neurobiology of learning and memory.
2015;117:51-9. Epub 2014/05/27. doi: 10.1016/j.nlm.2014.05.003. PubMed PMID: 24858182;
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4240773.
David B.T. McMahon, Adam P. Jones, Igor V. Bondar, David A. Leopold, Face-selective neurons
maintain consistent visual responses across months PNAS 2014 111 (22) 8251-8256; published
ahead of print May 5, 2014, doi:10.1073/pnas.1318331111
Falk, B., Jakobsen, L., Surlykke, A., & Moss, C.F. (2014). Bats coordinate sonar and flight be-
havior as they forage in open and cluttered environments. The Journal of Experimental Biolo-
gy, 217(24), 4356–4364. http://doi.org/10.1242/jeb.114132
Logan D, Ivanenko YP, Kiemel T, Cappellini G, Sylos-Labini F, Lacquaniti F and Jeka JJ. (2014)
Function dictates the phase dependence of vision during human walking. Journal of Neuro-
Logan D, Kiemel T and Jeka JJ. (2014) Asymmetric sensory reweighting in human upright
stance. PLOS ONE. 9:e100418.
Morrill, T.H., Baese-Berk, M., Heffner, C.C., & Dilley, L.C. (accepted for publication). The inter-
action of syntactic cues and timing information in spoken word recognition. Psychonomic Bul-
letin and Review.
Tidwell, J.W., Dougherty, M.R., Chrabaszcz, J.S., Thomas, R.P., & Mendoza, J.L. (2014). What
counts as evidence for working memory training? Problems with correlated gains and dichoto-
mization. Psychonomic bulletin & review, 21(3), 620-628.
Venezia A.C., Guth L.M., Spangenburg E.E., Roth S.M. (2015). Lifelong Parental Voluntary
Wheel Running Increases Offspring Hippocampal Pgc-1α mRNA Expression But Not Mitochon-
drial Content or Bdnf Expression. Neuroreport. In Press.
Venezia A.C., Roth S.M. (2015). Recent Research in the Genetics of Exercise Training Adapta-
tion. Medicine and Sport Science - 'Genetics and Sports', 2nd revised and extended edition. In
Yokoyama T*, S. Padmala* and L. Pessoa. (in press). Reward learning and negative emotion
during rapid attentional competition. Frontiers in Psychology.
In the Spotlight
Aminah’s research focuses on the mechanisms of abnormal brain developmental disorders. For example, premature white-matter brain injury
results in interruption of normal maturation and consequently increases risk of developing cerebral palsy and epilepsy in infants. She has found
that using a rodent stroke model, hypoxia-ischemia (HI), one can induce selective injury to developing neurons in the subcortical white matter
region of the brain, the subplate neurons. Lesion studies, including her own (Tolner* Sheikh* et al., 2012), have shown that subplate neurons are
necessary for proper development of the cerebral cortex. While it is clear that subplate neurons play a major role in the maturation of developing
brain circuitry, she is currently investigating the mechanism by which subplate damage leads to altered development, which has yet to be ex-
plained. A common medical disorder, fetal nuchal cord disorder, occurs during pregnancy when the umbilical cord of the fetus is wrapped fully
around the neck. Subsequently, the twisting of the umbilical cord reduces oxygen (hypoxia) and blood flow (ischemia) to the infant. From studying
the anatomical and physiological changes after Hypoxia-Ischemia, she hopes to identify targets for treatment (e.g. shrinkage in brain size), to help
prevent long-term brain damage and cognitive impairment.
While Aminah was working in the Luhmann lab she gained experience learning a physiology recording technique and received one-on-one men-
toring. She also expanded her professional neuroscience connections and got a broader perspective of how labs operate and interact with one
another across the world. Aminah looks forward to future successful international collaborations.
After she earns her Ph.D., Aminah plans to go to medical school with hopes of pursuing a career in either Pediatric Neurology or Otorhinolaryngol-
ogy (ENT) as a Physician Scientist. She hopes to integrate the research skills she has learned, as well as the inquisitive research mind set she has
developed in order to improve neurological treatments in a clinical setting. Aminah says, “From volunteering in clinics, I noticed that it is difficult
for scientists and physicians to understand each other’s points of view, and thus the transfer of ideas undergoes some strain. Ultimately, I plan to
lead a cohesive research lab at a research hospital involving physicians and scientists who will be able to get hands- on patient experience to
drive the research for scientists to investigate the specifics underlying the mechanisms of cortical plasticity in neurological disorders.”
Aminah Sheikh is a 4th year NACS student working in Patrick Kanold’s lab. Last year
Aminah was awarded an International Graduate Research Fellowship from the Gradu-
ate School. In summer 2014 she traveled to Germany where she conducted research
for two months in the lab of Dr. Heiko Luhmann at the Institute of Physiology & Patho-
physiology, Focus Program Translational Neurosciences (FTN), Johannes-Gutenberg
Alex Presacco is a 3rd year NACS student, working in the lab of Samira Anderson. Last
year he was chosen as one of three University of Maryland students to attend the Uni-
versitas 21 “Graduate Research Conference: Celebrating Ageing Research” at the Uni-
versity of Auckland in New Zealand. Universitas 21 (U21) is a global network of 27 re-
search universities around the world.
Older adults frequently complain that they can hear what they have been told, but cannot understand the meaning, particularly in noisy condi-
tions. These difficulties in understanding speech cannot be only related to reduced audibility, otherwise the use of hearing aids would solve the
problem. Age-related deficits in auditory temporal processing could be the main cause of the communication problems experienced by older
adults. The focus of Alex’s research is to investigate how aging affects neural processing in the auditory system at the midbrain and cortical level
by using non-invasive neuroimaging techniques such as Electroencephalography (EEG) and Magnetoencephalography (MEG).
The communication difficulties experienced by older adults have a significant social impact on them, as several studies have shown strong correla-
tions among hearing loss and depression and cognitive impairment. Alex believes this is why it is so important to improve our understanding of
how auditory temporal processing are affected by aging. Being able to identify age-related biomarkers in the auditory system could help audiolo-
gists assist older adults, in that they would be able to devise training techniques that could improve their understanding of speech in noise.
By attending the U21 conference, Alex was able to meet students that he would not usually interact with at conferences in the U.S. (i.e. students
from Australian and Asian Universities), and this experience helped him expand his knowledge of age-related problems. According to Alex, “as a
Ph.D. student, your scope of research is limited to the area that you are investigating and you usually attend conferences only focused on your
topic, so the U21 conference was a unique opportunity to learn more about different research in the aging fields.”
Alex’s goal is to pursue a research career in an academic setting. He plans to work with Cochlear Implant (CI) recipients for his postdoctoral train-
ing. Recently he has been offered the opportunity to work on a CI project at the University of Washington, Seattle, beginning in summer 2016.
Alex says, “This would be an ideal fit for me, as it would combine my desire to work on a clinical oriented project where I could apply the auditory
neuroscience technical skills learned during my Ph.D. at the University of Maryland.”
In the Spotlight
Dr. Taneyhill received her B.A. in Chemistry/Biochemistry from McDaniel College, where she chemically characterized anti-cancer compounds as
part of her undergraduate research training at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, MD. It was her mentors at McDaniel, Drs. Marilyn and
Rick Smith, who piqued her interest in science, particularly carry out research to address human disease. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Mo-
lecular Biology from Princeton University, working with Dr. Arnold Levine to elucidate molecular mechanisms underlying Wnt-induced mammary
tumor formation using cultured cells. It was Arnie’s enthusiasm for science, along with his faith and confidence in her scientific abilities, which
propelled Dr. Taneyhill to pursue postdoctoral studies with Dr. Marianne Bronner at Caltech. Here Dr. Taneyhill took advantage of her graduate
training in molecular biology to adapt several assays to the developing chick embryo to shed light on how immotile neural crest cell precursors
become migratory through an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Under Marianne’s guidance, Dr. Taneyhill discovered a passion for
development, and in particular, the formation of the neural crest, a multipotent cell population that gives rise to various derivatives, including the
peripheral nervous system, craniofacial skeleton, skin pigment cells, and portions of the heart.
Dr. Taneyhill came to the University of Maryland in October 2007, and her lab is currently exploring how cellular junctions, or the glue that keeps
cells together, are dismantled to generate migratory cell types during EMT, and later re-assembled to allow multiple cell types to interact to create
new tissues and organs. To address these questions, Dr. Taneyhill utilizes both chick neural crest and placode cells, which are initially stationary
but later become migratory through modulation of cell junction components and adhesion. This research is significant and will impact society by
enhancing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying the generation of migratory cells, a process co-opted during human diseas-
es such as cancer, and the intercellular interactions required to create more complex structures in an embryo or adult organism. Understanding
how multiple cell types communicate and interact to generate a new tissue or organ is the focus of the NIH grant Dr. Taneyhill has recently re-
ceived. This grant will advance the laboratory’s research by informing future translational studies involving in vivo tissue/organ repair and/or ex
ovo organ culture and development, with the ultimate goal of developing new treatments for affected individuals.
Dr. Lisa Taneyhill is an associate professor in the Department of Animal and Avian Scienc-
es. She was awarded a grant from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Re-
search at the NIH. The Taneyhill lab studies the neural crest formation in the avian
(chicken) embryo to better understand overall animal growth and development.
Dr. Dan Butts is an assistant professor in the Department of Biology. He was awarded an
Early Career award from the National Science Foundation studying the impact of large-
scale brain activity on sensory processing. His lab is the NeuroTheory Lab, which develops
new computational approaches to understand neuronal processing of vision and audi-
Dr. Butts received his B.A. in physics and mathematics from Oberlin College. After working a year abroad in Copenhagen, he went to graduate
school at UC Berkeley in physics to study condensed matter theory (often referred as “systems physics”). He was drawn to Berkeley because his
doctoral advisor, Dan Rokhsar, was planning on using approaches from this field to study what seemed like more interesting problems in Biolo-
gy. As Dr. Butts became involved in an initial project with a nearby lab, studying how early neural activity in retina guidesbrain development, he
fell in love with neuroscience and based his dissertation around development in the visual pathway, even as his advisor movedinto genomics.
Knowing very little Biology at the time, Dr. Butts hoped to be able to contribute with approaches derived from his training as a physicist. Howev-
er he was highly influenced by the director of the collaborating lab, Dr. Carla Shatz, who believed that experimental neuroscience training was a
prerequisite to being a good theorist. She invited him to join her lab as she moved to Harvard Medical School, in order to experimentally test
theoretical predictions Dr. Butts made in graduate school. The postdoc training under Dr. Shatz was essential for his futureresearch at the inter-
face of experimental and theoretical neuroscience.
Dr. Butts’ passion became to understand how the brain processes sensory information: how neural circuits are able to transform the concrete
physical stimuli detected by primary sensory receptors to the “abstract” understanding, such as knowing the objects that comprise the visual
scene or the meaning of the words we hear. After establishing himself studying these problems in positions at Harvard University and Weill
Cornell Medical College, he joined the faculty at University of Maryland in 2009. His lab combines new computational methods with tailored
experiments in collaboration with a number of neurophysiology labs. Projects focus on understanding how natural stimuli (such as those that
potentially have abstract meaning) are processed through successive computations across visual and auditory areas. These studies typically
involve complex stimuli, as well as the study of their processing in relevant behavioral contexts, necessitating the use of sophisticated analytical
tools in combination with carefully designed experiments. Dr. Butts recently received an Early Career Award from NSF to use such approaches
to gain insight into how sensory processing is shaped by perceptual and behavioral events. His long-term goal is to use the resulting links be-
tween observable neural activity and perception and behavior to understand how information processing goes wrong in cases ofmental illness
and brain damage, and thus how it might be treated.
Mark Hallett, senior investigator at the National Institute of Neurologi-
cal Disorders and Stroke, received at 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award
from the American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic
Medicine. He also received a Federal Laboratory Consortium for Tech-
nology Transfer (FLC) Mid-Atlantic Regional Award for Excellence in
Technology Transfer, Deep Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Coil, and
Therapy System. This year he also became a honorary member of the
Austrian Parkinson Society.
Derek Paley, associate professor in Aerospace Engineering, was
awarded the A. James Clark School of Engineering E. Robert Kent Teach-
ing Award for Junior Faculty in 2014.
Colin Phillips, professor in Linguistics and director of the Language
Science Center, received an National Science Foundation Research Train-
eeship Program training grant (2015-2020). The project is called
“Flexibility in language processes and technology: human and global
scale.” Dr. Phillips is PI on the grant. Rochelle Newman, chair of the
Hearing and Speech Sciences Department and associate director of the
Language Science Center, and Bill Idsardi, chair of the Linguistics Depart-
ment, are co-PI’s on the grant.
Patrick Kanold, associate professor in Biology, received a Brain Initia-
tive Grant to develop new imaging technologies and data analysis tech-
niques that will further our understanding of how large networks of
neurons in the brain interact to process sensory information.
What’s New with Faculty?
Faculty Awards and Achievements
Samira Anderson, assistant professor in Hearing and Speech Sciences,
received a Hearing Health Foundation Grant for her work in “Neural
adaptation in hearing aid users.”
Gregory Ball, professor in Psychology and dean of the College of Behav-
ioral and Social Sciences, was named a 2014 Fellow by the American
Association for the Advancement of Science.
Dan Butts, assistant professor in Biology, received a National Science
Foundation Early Career Award for his research in "Network Modulation
of Cortical Neuron Computation.”
Nan Ratner, professor in Hearing and Speech Sciences, was named a
2014 Fellow by the American Association for the Advancement of Sci-
ence. Dr. Ratner is also a 2014 honor award recipient of the American
Speech Language and Hearing Association.
Naomi Feldman, assistant professor in Linguistics, was awarded an NSF
grant for collaborative research “Cognitive models of the acquisition of
vowels in context” with Micha Elsner at Ohio State University.
Tracy Riggins, assistant professor in Psychology, is the PI on a grant
called “Hippocampal-memory Network Development and Episodic
Memory in Early Childhood.” This grant is funded by the National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Matt Roesch, associate professor in Psychology, received an R21
grant for his research studying “Neural mechanism underlying social
recognition of reward.” This grant is funded by the National Institute
of Mental Health.
Alex Shackman, assistant professor in Psychology, and Luis Pessoa,
professor in Psychology, were awarded a Level II Dean’s research
initiative grant from BSOS for their collaborative research aimed at
understanding the neural circuitry shared by anxiety, pain, and exec-
Jonathan Simon, professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering
and Biology, was awarded a grant from NIDCD for his research in
“Auditory Scene Analysis and Temporal Cortical Computations.” He
also received a UMCP ADVANCE Program Interdisciplinary and En-
gaged Research Seed Grant for research on the “Effects of Aging on
Speech-in-noise Processing in the Auditory Cortex and Midbrain.” In
addition, along with Eliot Hong at the University of Maryland Balti-
more, Jonathan was awarded a UMCP-UMB seed grant called
“Temporal Auditory Coding in Schizophrenia and Treatment Re-
sistant Auditory Hallucination.”
Bob Slevc, assistant professor in Psychology, and Rochelle New-
man, chair of the Hearing and Speech Sciences Department, were
awarded a grant from the Grammy Foundation for their collaborative
research to investigate why musicians show advantages in second-
language learning as adults, particularly in learning the sound struc-
ture of new languages.
Lisa Taneyhill, associate professor in Animal and Avian Sciences,
received a grant from NIDCR for her research “Neural crest and plac-
ode cell interactions during cranial gangliogenesis.” She also received
a Research Scholar Grant from the American Cancer Society for her
research “Coordinated regulation of cadherins in the neural crest."
We would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you can donate to the NACS Program Gift Fund. The NACS
Gift Fund is a very important source of funding for our program. We use the funds to pay for expenses that we can-
not pay for using our state funds, such as appreciation gifts or awards and our recruitment event.
Donating is easy and simple. To donate go to our website and click on “Give to NACS.”
NACS sponsors or co-sponsors
several events each year:
Cognitive Science Colloquia
Language Science Day
Volunteer for Outreach!
Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program | T: 301-405-8910 | Email: NACS@umd.edu
2131 Biology-Psychology Bldg, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
Director: Jens Herberholz, Ph.D. (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Assistant Director: Pam Komarek (email@example.com )
Admin Assistant: Emerald Brooks (firstname.lastname@example.org) | Grants Development: Katie Sacksteder (email@example.com)
The NACS Outreach Committee is a student-led program to bring neuroscience and cognitive science into the
community. By taking science to schools and other community venues, they are fostering a potential interest in
science for future generations and enhancing their abilities to communicate science to a diverse audience.
If you are interested in participating, email firstname.lastname@example.org .