Neuroscience students present research in Washington DC
Four seniors attended the 2023 National Society for Neuroscience (SfN) meeting in Washington DC November 11 through 15.
Founded in 1969, SfN is the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and the nervous system and has nearly 35,000 members in more than 95 countries. Its annual meeting regularly attracts more than 30,000 attendees.
Fede Bertolotti ’24, Ying Han ’24, Lorena Monroy ’24, and Jasmin Montes ’24 attended independent of their research mentors. The students were able to present their senior year research and meet neuroscience professionals, supported by the generosity of Steve and Ann Bartram Family Grant to the college’s neuroscience program. All four are planning for future post-graduate studies in science and medicine.
Bertolotti, a neuroscience and biochemistry and molecular biology double major, conducted her senior thesis research on Parkinson’s disease with Disque D. and Carol Gram Deane Professor of Biological Sciences at the College Shubhik DebBurman. Bertolotti's work was supported by two competitively awarded research awards from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Nu Rho Psi, the national neuroscience honor society. Additionally, Bertolotti also received a travel grant from Nu Rho Psi.
Han, a neuroscience and computer science double major, conducted her senior thesis research at Rosalind Franklin University (RFU) as part of the LFC-RFU Summer Research Scholars program, and she presented work on age-dependent motor skill learning, conducted in the lab of RFU Professor EunJung Hwang. Han received received one of SfN’s competitive Trainee Professional Development Grants to attend the conference.
Monroy, a neuroscience and biochemistry and molecular biology double major, conducted her senior project research as a LFC-RFU Summer Research Scholar and presented this work on the neuroscience underlying stress and anxiety, conducted in the lab of RFU professor Joanna Dabrowska.
Montes, a neuroscience and biology double major, conducted her senior project research as a LFC-RFU Summer Research Scholar and presented work on sex dependent anxiety behaviors in rodent models, conducted in the lab of RFU professor Amiel Rosenkranz.
“People were modest and approachable, even the most accomplished researchers were easy to talk to,” said Han. “Having the chance to present my work as an undergraduate student and receive feedback from different perspectives was a privilege. It is encouraging to see neuroscientists from all over the world share the same passion and devote their efforts in scientific advancement.”
The students witnessed presentations on how AI is being implemented in the field of neuroscience.
“Researchers have developed AI systems capable of performing neurosurgery. Machine learning algorithms can now automatically classify and quantify neurons without staining procedures,” Han said. “Being exposed to these advanced applications of AI in neuroscience gave me an inside look at how it is revolutionizing research.”
The conference also provided students with the opportunity to see the expansive possibility of a career in neuroscience. Biotechnology, medical centers, and consulting firms were also represented at the conference alongside research.
The students also met with several Lake Forest College alumni now conducting PhDs at universities across the US who were also presenting at the conference, including Saul Bello Rojas ’16 (Washington University at St Louis), Michael Janecek ’18 (University of Pittsburgh), Trevor Buhr ’18 (Iowa State University), and Aiden Houcek ’20 (Vanderbilt University).