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Alumni & Alzheimer’s Seminar to headline 2013 NeuroFrontiers Workshop & Nu Rho Psi Induction

A Rosalind Franklin Medical School expert on Alzheimer’s disease will join BIO346 Molecular Neuroscience students as these students role-play world famous neuroscientists at a unique annual scientific research conference on April 27 at Lake Forest College. This workshop also celebrates the induction of new members of the Gamma Chapter of Illinois of Nu Rho Psi (the national neuroscience honorary) at Lake Forest College, that honors three recent biology and psychology alumni Dr. Michele Beekman ‘03, M.D., Silvia Skripkauskas ‘04, and Andrew Ferrier ‘07.

What is Nu Rho Psi?

Nu Rho Psi is the National Honor Society in Neuroscience, founded in 2006 by the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience. The Lake Forest College Chapter became the 26th member of this national organization in spring 2012.

Four current neuroscience majors, one faculty member, and three recent alumni will be inducted as 2013 members of the society at 4:00 PM:

Rida Khan ‘14
Maiwase Tembo ‘15
Natalie Zemela ‘15
Kayla Huber ‘16
Dr. Michele Beekman ‘03
Silvia Skripkauskas ‘04
Andrew Ferrier ‘07

Dr. Naomi Wentworth, Associate Professor and Chair of Psychology

What is NeuroFrontiers?

Now in its 13th year, this unique public conference is sponsored by the Biology Department and the Neuroscience Program. It is the non-traditional final exam in the course BIO346 Molecular Neuroscience taken by biology, neuroscience and psychology majors their junior or senior year.  On the first day of class, each student was assigned to role-play a world leader in a sub-field of neuroscience. Through the course of the semester, the student researched, read, and synthesized the major papers published by the scientist over his/her scientific career to deeply understand how scientific knowledge accrues over time and how an individual scientist can make important biomedical contributions.  In this process, each student typically read 30-40 articles published over a span 2-3 decades.

During the workshop, each role-playing student becomes the scientist and presents a professional 30-minute seminar on the career length contributions to neuroscience. The student also authors a review article on this topic that is published in the in-house annual NeuroFrontiers journal, now its thirteenth edition.

To make this conference as real as possible, a noted Chicago area neuroscientist is invited to participate in the entire workshop, present his/her own research as the workshop’s Keynote Address, and to facilitate scientific dialogue between each role-playing student as they critically integrate individual scientist seminars into the broader context of understanding the complex relationship between brain, mind and behavior and the current challenges and the future of biomedicine.

Over 140 students have participated in this workshop since 1998, with more than a hundred of them headed for or already pursuing careers in biomedicine.

The Thirteenth NeuroFrontiers Workshop, April 27, 8 am - 5:15 pm

- 4:20 PM
Dr. Grace Stutzman, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science (RFUMS), will deliver the keynote address. Dr. Stutzman received her B.A. from Washington & Lee University in biology/psychology with cum laude honors, M.A. in biopsychology from Stony Brook University, and Ph.D. from New Work University, where she worked with world famous neuroscientist Joseph LeDoux.  Stutzman did her postdoctoral training at Yale University and University of California Irvine. She joined RFUMS in 2005, where she the received the medical school’s Board of Trustees Award at in 2008. In 2008, 2011, and 2012, she was named the Dorothy Dillon Eweson Lecturer on the Advances in Aging Research by the American Federation of Aging Research (AFAR) She is an expert in the field of neurological diseases and has published more than a dozen articles on this topic in journals that include Learning and Memory, Journal of Neuroscience, Nature Biotechnology and Plos One.


Registration: Johnson Bridge: 7:30 AM, Coffee, Juice, Bagels

Introduction: 7:50 AM, Natalie Kukulka ‘13 & maria Basith ‘14, Workshop Co-Chairs

Session I: Sensory Frontiers, 8:00 am – 9:00 am

1. Dr. Linda Buck, University of Washington, “Sniffing out smell: Odorant detection, Coding, Perception”, role-played by Ms. Amanda Allred ‘14

2. Dr. David Julius, University of California, San Francisco, “Painful, hot, and toxic secrets of TRP channels” role-played by Ms. Rachel Gonzales ‘13

Session II: Cognitive Frontiers, 9:00 am – 10:00 am

3. Dr. Ursula Bellugi, The Salk Institute, “William’s Syndrome: The extraordinary profile of a micro-deletion”, role-played by Ms. Alexus Edmonds ‘13

4. Dr. Stephen Warren, Emory University, “Fragile X: Mental Retardation caused by expanded CGG & silenced FMR”, role-played by Ms. Rida Khan ‘14

Break: 10:00-10:15 AM

Session III: Thesis Frontiers, 10:15 AM - 11:30 AM

5. Ms. Kimberly Diah ‘13, “Do drugs affect interneuron development in the hippocampus?” (10:15 am)

6. Ms. Natalie Kukulka ‘13, “New Insights into familial alpha-synuclein mutants in Parkinson’s Disease” (10:40 am)

7. Ms. Ashley Reich ‘13, “Regulating eukaryotic genes: How microRNA and alternative splicing crosstalk” (11:05 am)

Student/Speaker Lunch: 11:30 noon - 12:30 pm, The Commons Cafeteria

Session V: Alumni Frontiers, 12:30 – 1:00 pm

8. Andrew Ferrier ‘07, University of Ottawa, “A two-party homicide: How dystonin causes a severe sensory neuropathy”

Session V: Regeneration Frontiers, 1:00 – 1:30 pm

9. Dr. Stephen Strittmatter, Yale University, “Beyond NOGO: Widening complexity of CNS regeneration inhibition”, role-played by Ms. Kimberly Diah ‘13

Session IV: Neurodegeneration Frontiers, 1:30 – 3:30 pm

10. Dr. Huda Zoghbi, Baylor College of Medicine/HHMI, “When Balance is Lost: Rett Syndrome, SCA, and Brain Development”, role-played by Ms. Celina Antony  ‘14

11. Dr. Nancy Bonini, University of Pennyslvania/HHMI, “Modeling neurodegeneration in the fly’s eyes: SCA3, PD, and ALS”, role-played byMs. Anhar Mohamed ‘14

12. Dr. Stanley Prusiner, University of California San Francisco, “Turning biology on its head: Proteins can be infectious”, role-played by Mr. Josh Shriver ‘14

13. Dr. Susan Lindquist, Whitehead Institute of Biomedical Research/M.I.T./HHMI, “Remarkable Effects of Misfolded Proteins: Infection, Evolution & Disease”, role-played by Ms. Katrina Campbell ‘14


NU RHO PSI RECEPTION: 3:30- 4:00 PM, McCormick Auditorium Lobby


KEYNOTE LECTURE 4:20-5:00 PM, McCormick Auditorium

“Early mechanisms of Alzheimer’s disease and novel therapeutic strategies: The beginning of a new era”, by Dr. Grace Stutzman, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at RFUMS.