A Dynamic Neuron & His Dynamic Poster At #SfN12
Oct19

A Dynamic Neuron & His Dynamic Poster At #SfN12

Ned The Neuron If you attended the Society for Neuroscience’s annual meeting earlier this week (SfN 2012) in New Orleans, you might have passed by a blonde woman carrying a fuzzy blue stuffed neuron. Lest you think you had one too many drinks on Bourbon Street, I’m here to tell you this was no hallucination. The neuron’s name is Ned. He’s an adventurous sort with a bunch of fun-loving friends—Stella the stellate nerve cell and Bernard the bipolar retinal cell, to name a few. At the moment, Ned works in the motor cortex of the brain, helping humans put one foot in front of the other to traverse the great outdoors. The blonde carrying Ned is Erica Warp. Once a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Berkeley, studying spinal-cord development in zebrafish, Warp is Ned’s creator (and biggest fan). She dreamed him up during grad school, and when it came time to chart her future, she says the decision came down to “postdoc or Ned.” She chose the little blue guy. Along with developer Jessica Voytek, Warp has created an educational story platform around Ned: It includes a storybook overlaid with audio and music as well as interactive diagrams and mini-games. Voytek and Warp came to New Orleans to present a poster about their efforts to bring Ned’s story to life and to promote their iPad app, “The Adventures of Ned the Neuron.” (Android users, your app is coming soon.) “Neuroscience is a great gateway science for kids,” Warp says. “It’s cool. It’s something they can experience directly, through vision, touch, and other sensations.” But it’s also a subject that students typically don’t encounter until college, she adds. And that’s a shame. That’s because it’s a science that’s accelerating—a true frontier. There’s so much neuroscientists are now finding out about the brain, and there’s still so much they don’t know, Warp says. Kids should experience this vibrant field earlier, she contends. “Even if they don’t end up going into science later in life, we want them to have a positive association with it.” Voytek and Warp worked hard to get “The Adventures of Ned the Neuron” ready to launch at this year’s SfN meeting (having just established their company, Kizoom, in February). They managed to meet their deadline, although Warp says they are still doing some kid-testing and are making revisions to the app on the basis of feedback. Warp is hopeful that this initial story about Ned will be just the first in a series of adventures for Ned. If successful, she could see Kizoom adding stories to the app in which Ned explores other brain functions...

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Military Undergrads at #ACSAnaheim
Mar30

Military Undergrads at #ACSAnaheim

This Newscripts post is by Senior Editor Susan Ainsworth: Wandering the halls of the undergraduate research poster session at the Anaheim Convention Center on Monday, Associate Editor Linda Wang and I noticed that there seemed to be more students from the U.S. armed forces than we had seen in the past. Intrigued by these neatly uniformed undergrads, we stopped by to talk to some of them and to find out about their research and future plans. Steve Guidry, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., seemed happy to talk about his poster titled “Composite Armor: Multi-layered Polymer Protection.” He hopes that his research will result in improved armor that may help those who diffuse mines or improvised explosive devices—something he hopes to do for the Navy in Iraq or Afghanistan after he graduates this year. Linda and I also met a friendly group of cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo. One of the cadets, Arizona native Jennie S. Wood, explained the research behind her poster entitled, “High Surface Area Carbon Aerogels: Modifying Preparation to Optimize Structure and Porosity.” Her work, she says, may find use in energy storage and catalysis applications. A senior chemistry major at the academy, she plans to pursue graduate school. She will then complete the required eight years of service as an officer. Next, we chatted with West Point cadet Michael Swayze, who went over the details of his poster, “Chemical Warfare Agent Surrogate Detection by Metal-Organic Frameworks.” Unable to work with the actual hazardous chemical warfare agents, he is using compounds that have similar vapor pressures. His work may lead to methods that will allow the Army to more quickly detect the release of these dangerous compounds, he says. After graduating from West Point this year, Swayze will serve in Ft. Carson, Colo., in the Medical Service Corps, an appointment he discussed with great enthusiasm.  Having attended two other national ACS meetings, Swayze concurred with our observation that more military undergrads were presenting posters this year. However, he didn’t have an explanation for the uptick. Air Force Academy cadets Casey Hawkins and Scott Pierson offered one theory: the ACS national meeting didn’t coincide with spring break this year. ***All videos taken by Linda...

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Posters at Pacifichem
Dec19

Posters at Pacifichem

At the Pacifichem conference taking place this week in Honolulu, there are more posters than you can shake a palm frond at. Some 2,500 posters are being presented here in Kamehameha Hall at the convention center, and nearly 2,100 of them are by students lucky to have an advisor who was able to help them get here. There's a big student poster competition taking place, and C&EN will be reporting on the winners when they are formally announced on Sunday. I've seen students from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Germany, the U.K., France, Canada, Japan, China, the U.S., and many other countries--some 69 countries in all are represented at Pacifichem. I would say by far the most students are from Japan. Newscripts is stopping by the massive poster sessions to chat with some of the students from around the world. We'll be posting a few videos so Newscripts fans can meet a few of the students: Kyle Parker, who is in Professor Michael Fryzuk's group at the University of British Columbia Eva Siedler, who is in Professor Holger Braunschweig's group at the University of Wurzburg, in Germany. Elaine Crosbie, who is Professor Robert Mulvey's group at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow, Scotland. Rong Shang, who is in professor Anthony Hill's group at Australian National University. Atsushi Kobayashi, who is in Professor Kazunori Kataoko’s group at the University of Tokyo. Maria Antoniou, who works with Dionysios Dionysiou at the University of Cincinnati .   Katsuhiko Takeuchi, who is in Professor Akira Sekiguchi's group at the Univeristy of Tsukuba, in...

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