Student-Organized Neuroscience Symposium Draws Attention to the Many Facets of the Field

Student-Organized Neuroscience Symposium Draws Attention to the Many Facets of the Field
George Buzzell, a PhD (CBN) candidate, discusses his presentation

The wide range of neuroscience study was on display in April at the Department of Psychology’s first Symposium in Neuroscience. The researchers and students who took part in the event agreed that it was a great success, and look forward to continuing it into the future.

The event was produced by the Students in Neuroscience (SiN) organization, and featured talks by researchers from Georgetown University, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, and the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Addiction. It included poster presentations from students in Mason’s neuroscience program and psychology students concentrating in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience (CBN), and human factors and applied cognition.

The event’s coordinators, Lorenzo Bozzelli, George Buzzell, and Kevin Schmidt – all graduate students − were enthusiastic about the large turnout, particularly the representation of undergraduate neuroscience students.

“The Students in Neuroscience organization is open to all students and faculty,” said Bozzelli, a cognitive and behavioral neuroscience MA student and president of SiN. “We promote the field by conducting weekly journal clubs, running fundraisers to send our members to conferences, raising money for causes such as the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in DC, and holding social events so that people with an interest in neuroscience can meet and discuss new ideas.”

Although SiN mainly includes graduate students at this time, Buzzell, the group’s vice president, noted that they “are very welcoming of faculty and undergraduate students” and stressed that they hope to increase their engagement of the undergraduate community in the future.

Schmidt, of the symposium’s planning committee, also noted that the event brought together the range of neuroscience study that takes place at Mason, encompassing applied and basic cognitive, behavioral, molecular, and computational neuroscience research. “I believe we were successful on this front,” he said. “Hopefully events like these can help stimulate the interdisciplinary, collaborative research potential we are capable of at this university.”

Professor James Thompson, director of Mason’s CBN program, appreciated the ways that the symposium highlighted the practical applications of neuroscience study: “This event really showcased how neuroscience cuts across traditional academic boundaries to address some of the most important health issues, like mental illness, Alzheimer’s disease, and traumatic brain injury.”

Buzzell added that SiN “certainly” plans to continue the event next year. “In fact,” he said, “I hope to start planning the next event soon, in hopes of reaching an even larger audience.”