Brain and Behavior Initiative (BBI) hosts Second Annual Seed Grant Symposium

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November 14, 2018

The University’s Brain and Behavior Initiative (BBI) hosted its Second Annual Seed Grant Symposium on November 14, 2018 at Adele’s in the Stamp Student Union. Sixteen teams shared updates on their exciting interdisciplinary projects with over 100 attendees from eight of the University’s colleges and schools. Researchers, scholars, students, as well as current and future collaborators engaged in stimulating discussions between talks and at the poster session.

BBI’s mission is to inspire research that crosses conventional disciplinary boundaries, and the seed grant program is the vehicle to support the teams that make this possible.

The studies funded by BBI Seed Grants are highly diverse and innovative. With BBI’s support, researchers have begun to investigate—to name only a few examples—the relationship between social anxiety and substance abuse, the non-visual experience of ambient light, the physical properties of mosquitos’ attraction to humans, the genetic changes associated with becoming a father, the material aspects of language acquisition, and the connections between meditation and gut health. These and other BBI-funded projects require collaboration across diverse disciplines and areas of knowledge, and the presentations of ongoing research spurred insightful questions. A number of questions elicited participation by the presenter’s co-PIs seated in the audience, resulting in a dynamic Q&A.

BBI researchers are also pioneering new methods and tools with BBI funds. Teams discussed a revolutionary means for returning live data about the stomach microbiome, a better set of equipment for assessing the relationship between psychosis and one’s environment, an improved way for using microscopy to measure brain synapses without having to actually touch them (and change their mechanics), a new tool for studying how students’ brains operate while they are at school, and a superior instrument for measuring brain activity on bodies in motion (particularly while dancing). Symposium participants were inspired by the prospect of research with such novel tools.

BBI appreciates the continued support from the Provost, VPR, BSOS, CMNS, ENGR, SPHL, EDUC, ARHU, and AGNR. In 2019, the BBI will continue to promote these exciting conversations with formal and informal events, including distinguished visiting speakers, workshops for cultivating interdisciplinary research, and talks that extend and apply BBI’s research to the greater community.

Finally, congratulations to Ashley Chapin, an engineering graduate student in the MEMS Sensors and Actuators Lab (MSAL) in the Clark School, who won the Kindle Fire!

The FY19 Seed Grant call for proposals will be released before the end of 2018. Check the BBI’s website for additional information and updates.

FY17 Award Presentations

Biobehavioral links among social anxiety, risk-taking, and substance use
Andres De Los Reyes, Sarah Racz, and Erica Glasper

Identifying candidate genes associated with sensorineural hearing loss in a novel vertebrate model
Robert Dooling, Karen Carleton, and Farrah Madison

Characterizing biological changes associated with shifts in reproductive strategy-connecting genes, physiology, behavior and fitness
Heidi Fisher and Erica Glasper

New representations in neuronal ensembles during initial language acquisition neurobiology of phoneme, syllable and word learning in an animal model
Jonathan Fritz and Bill Idsardi

Unraveling the neurogenetic architecture of human preference in mosquitoes
Megan Fritz, Quentin Gaudry, and Carlos Machado

Computing with trajectories: Novel methods for understanding spatiotemporal function MRI data
Joseph Jájá, Luiz Pessoa, and Manasij Venkatesh

Impact of meditation experience on the brain-body connection: Behavioral, physiological, and neural measures of stress-resilience
Stefanie Kuchinsky and Robin Puett

Control of cross-modal sensory plasticity by intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells
Patrick Kanold, Joshua Singer, and Kevin Armengol

Dance and EEG: Neural correlates of expressive movement
Pamela Abshire, Karen Bradley, Adriane Fang, Bradley Hatfield, Jonathan Simon, Christina Banalopoulou, Kyle Jaquess, Hyuk Oh, Calvin Lu, Steve Kahl, and Bathiya Senevirathna

FY18 Award Presentations

A Multimodal Sensor Discovery Platform to Study the Molecular Events Underlying the Gut-Microbiome-Brain Axis
Reza Ghodssi, Bill Bentley, and Jens Herberholz

Precision Optogenetics: msec time resolution optical imaging and control of neuronal circuits
Behtash Babadi, Wolfgang Losert, and Monika Ritsch-Marte

Central Nervous System Processing of Learned Vocal Communication Signals
Bill Idsardi, Jonathan Fritz, and Bob Dooling

Cognitive and Neural Precursors to Semantic Word Learning and Math Development
Richard Prather, DJ Bolger, Marine Carpaut, and Joe Dien

Understanding the role of negative affect in psychosis using multimodal imaging and wearable sensors
Jack Blanchard, Alex Shackman, and Eun Kyoung Choe

Role of epigenetic mechanisms in striatum in neuronal encoding of decision-making during incubation of methamphetamine craving
Anna Li and Matt Roesch

Adapting Brillouin microscopy to the study of synaptic transmission
Giuliano Scarcelli and Josh Singer

Published November 19, 2018