Neuroscience

Visitor of the Week: Nabil Karnib

cshl-visitor-nabil-karnib

 

Meet Nabil Karnib of Bowling Green State University. The Lebanese national is a PhD student in Robert Huber’s Lab and is presently taking part in the 2019 meeting of Neurobiology of Drosophila. Nabil “heard a lot of positive reviews [about the Neurobiology of Drosophila meeting] from colleagues and though he “underestimated the engaging aspect of it,” it was up to his expectations. Our biennial fly meeting is his first meeting at CSHL and his inaugural experience included a poster presentation. This wasn’t his first time presenting a poster, but it was the first time he presented his work to such a targeted audience. The result? “Everyone was engaged and enthusiastic about [his] work [so] the feedback [he received] was highly constructive and gave [him] a lot of ideas to incorporate in [his] project trajectory.”

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am interested in substance abuse, in particular what makes an individual more prone to get addicted to a certain compound. I use the Drosophila to understand the underlying mechanisms for this susceptibility.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research?
The ability to answer complex behaviors in a relatively simple model that could be translated clinically.

How did your scientific journey begin?
I was always intrigued by behavioral neuroscience: the fact that any normal or maladaptive behavior can be tracked and studied with the appropriate tools. Particularly, tracing the resilient/susceptible phenotype to depression to underlying epigenetic and genetic mechanisms and studying behavioral abnormalities following hypoxic seizures marked the beginning of my career in science.

Was there something specific about the Neurobiology of Drosophila meeting that drew you to attend?
My main reasons for attending the Neurobiology of Drosophila meeting were to know the state of the art in this field and establish collaborations. CSHL and the organizers provided the best platform for this. I identified and approached laboratories doing similar and complementary work to ours, laying foundations for future collaborations. 

What is your key takeaway from the meeting?
Collaboration makes science happen.

What and/or how will you apply what you’ve learned from the meeting to your work?
I was introduced to several techniques during the talks and the poster sessions that would be a great asset for my project. Also, it was insightful to see how different groups tackle the same questions using different approaches.

If someone curious in attending this meeting asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I would definitely encourage them to attend. It’s a congenial environment to give and receive feedback on science. I return to the lab with a new understanding of novel techniques and approaches to expand my repertoire. The topics covered a vast range, from basic scientific questions to disease modeling and technological innovations done at the highest levels. The heterogeneity of the topics along with the fast pace of the sessions made the meeting highly engaging.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
The picturesque backdrop of Long Island, the chance to see the Big Apple and the new friendships I made.

Thank you to Nabil for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.

Visitor of the Week: Sheenah Bryant

cshl-visitor-sheenah-bryant

Meet Sheenah Bryant of Central Michigan University. Sheenah is an adjunct research faculty member in Ute Hochgeschwender’s lab, and a proud single mom and Native American. She is on campus for the Ion Channels in Synaptic and Neural Circuit Physiology course where she has been expanding her expertise in generalized ion channel regulation.

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am interested in studying the mechanisms of neural circuit formation in development. I hope to characterize changes inneurons resulting from neural hyperactivity during development, and the changes in neural circuit trajectories that control adult behavior.

How did decide to make this the focus of your research?
My dissertation focused on characterizing individual cell membrane proteins. Near the end of my doctoral work, I was introduced to novel method of neural control during a lightning talk by a member of my postdoctoral PI's lab. Those two minutes inspired me with many fundamental questions about neurons, and even our brain, that could be studied by controlling neural activity using bioluminescence-driven optogenetics. I knew immediately that this was the work I wanted to dedicate my research career to.

How did your scientific journey begin?
I have loved the creative curiosity of science since I was very young.  As a Native American and also a single mother, my path thus far has been filled with challenges of doubt and sacrifice, and great reward. I feel passionately that pursuing my dreams as a developmental neuroscientist will inspire my children and the Native American students I meet throughout my career, to pursue their dreams regardless of how unknown or difficult the journey may seem.

Was there something specific about the Ion Channels in Synaptic and Neural Circuit Physiology course that drew you to apply?
I knew this course would be an intense few weeks of classroom and lab training of powerful techniques for studying the contribution of ion channels to neuron functionality, which is at the core of my research goals. Attending a CSHL course is an amazing opportunity because they bring together experts from all over the world to instruct and lecture.

What and/or how will you apply what you’ve learned from the course to your work?
The research techniques I have learned -- such as cultured cell, tissue slice and in vivo patch-clamp electrophysiology -- has helped me to exploit my expertise of generalized ion channel regulation towards answering questions within the field of neuroscience. Each of these techniques I will need to study the relationship between ion channel activity and behavior of organisms.

What is your key takeaway from the Course?
This course is providing me with a clear understanding of how proper regulation of ion channels enables neural function and circuit formation, and the cutting edge techniques used to study these relationships.

If someone curious in attending the Ion Channels in Synaptic and Neural Circuit Physiology course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I highly recommend this experience to all students at the beginning of their research careers. In a very short amount of time, I successfully mastered difficult experimental techniques and learned the scientific foundation of my new field of study. I hope to attend several other courses during my postdoctoral training.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
The extremely knowledgeable instructors and guest speakers were very kind and excited to be here. It is such a fun and collegial atmosphere, which I'm sure I will take with me to my postdoctoral university.

Sheenah received funding support from her PI’s National Science Foundation (NSF) NeuroNex grant. On behalf of Sheenah, thank you to NSF for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend training course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.

Thank you to Sheenah for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.

Visitor of the Week: Heiko Schutt

2018-cshl-visitor-heiko-schutt

Meet Heiko Schütt of the University of Tübingen (Germany). Heiko is currently finishing his PhD in Felix Wichmann’s lab within the Neural Information Processing Group. He is on campus attending his first CSHL course: Computational Neuroscience: Vision

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I model human visual behavior: what images humans can differentiate and where in the image they look. For my models, I use neural data for inspiration which I implement using image-processing methods.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research? 
I knew I wanted to study visual perception once I realized how well it can be understood and the number of fascinating problems still unresolved. For example, I am deuteranope which means I am missing the photoreceptor type needed to register medium wave length lights. Therefore, there are some colors which I cannot differentiate. As this process is well understood, we can calculate which colors I can identify and which ones I cannot. Displaying colors on a screen, which everyone -- but me -- could easily distinguish from each other made a very impressive illustration. Such exact predictions are a rarity in neuroscience and psychology, and gave me hope that exact solutions are possible in other parts of vision science. 

How did your scientific journey begin? 
My scientific journey began as a psychology student in Gießen, which has a large group of psychologists working on visual perception. I started as a research assistant and was immediately fascinated by the illusions in visual perception, its complexities, and how much we can understand in this field.

Was there something specific about the Computational Neuroscience: Vision course that drew you to apply?
I was mainly drawn to apply for this course by the great collection of speakers and alumni. This course really brings together a broad selection of world-leading scientists in this field.

What and/or how will you apply what you've learned from the course to your work? 
I learned a lot about the neural basis of my models. The retinal physiology discussed at the course will be a great source of inspiration for the front end of the early vision model I currently develop.

What is your key takeaway from the course?
The most important takeaway are the people I have met here. Of course, I increased my knowledge and beliefs about visual neuroscience, but getting to know the researchers behind the original studies and meeting a great set of peer scientists will be invaluable for my future in science.

If someone curious in attending this course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
If you can attend, do it! This is one of the best visual neuroscience courses in the world. Once you are here, don’t take yourself too seriously and allow yourself to get to know the science and other scientists.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
From our evening discussions to our Nerf gun battles, ultimate Frisbee matches, and evenings on the beach - I enjoyed the relaxed attitude of this course.

Heiko received a scholarship from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to cover a portion of his course tuition. On behalf of Heiko, thank you to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network. 

Thank you to Heiko for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.

Visitor of the Week: Doris Ling

VOTW %282%29.png

Meet Doris Ling of Washington University in St. Louis. The graduate student is a member of the Barani Raman Lab which studies the insect olfactory system; as well as the Yehuda Ben-Shahar Lab which studies the genetic basis of behavior. Doris returned to CSHL to take part in the annual course on Drosophila Neurobiology: Genes, Circuits & Behavior

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am interested in how the brain encodes complex sensory information – currently I am researching this in the fruit fly brain and how it represents chemical information such as smells.

How did you decide to make this the focus of your research? 
My background is in engineering and in a previous life I was interested in developing artificial chemical sensors. I quickly came to realize that man-made chemical sensors tend to fail in complex odorant environments but natural chemical sensors, such as our noses or a fly’s antennae, easily deal with these complexities. So why not study how nature builds such robust chemical sensors? 

How did your scientific journey begin? 
Growing up, I had great teachers whose enthusiasm for teaching and the sciences made it easy for me to get excited about science too.

Was there something specific about the Drosophila Neurobiology: Genes, Circuits & Behavior course that drew you to apply?
I applied to this course because I wanted to learn more laboratory skills specific for studying the fruit fly nervous system. Learning such hands-on technical skills from leaders in the field has been truly invaluable in ways that I am not sure I would have been able to obtain anywhere else.    

What and/or how will you apply what you've learned from the course to your work? 
This course has provided me with such a breadth and wealth of knowledge regarding everything from the developmental neuroscience to the genetic tools available in fruit flies. It was also great to learn from people with such diverse academic backgrounds. I hope to channel everything I’ve learned to ask more informed and interesting questions about Drosophila neurobiology!

What is your key takeaway from the course?
Flies are awesome. Even though their brains only have 100,000 neurons (compared to humans which have 100 billion neurons), they are still capable of so many interesting and elaborate behaviors. And considering how many biological processes are fairly conserved throughout the animal kingdom, the fly is a necessarily simple but sufficiently complex model that can teach us a lot about ourselves.  

How many CSHL courses have you attended? 
Just this one, and I attended the Neurobiology of Drosophila meeting last fall. 

If someone curious in attending this course asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
Do it! This course has been invaluable to me in terms of the experimental skills I have learned, the conversations I’ve had, and the people I’ve met. The instructors are so knowledgeable, but more importantly, ever so patient and kind teachers. It has been a great opportunity to get to know them and to have them on our team.

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
The people I met at CSHL during the course are nothing short of amazing. Their company has brought me countless laughs and gave me an unwavering faith about the future of the field. I already miss our late-night conversations and gossiping about science at every coffee break. I hope that I may one day be as motivated, diligent, and ambitious as they are. 

Doris received a fellowship from the Helmsley Charitable Trust to cover a portion of her course tuition. On behalf of Doris, thank you to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for supporting and enabling our young scientists to attend a CSHL course where they expand their skills, knowledge, and network.

Thank you to Doris for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course - go here.

Visitor of the Week: Ilse Eidhof

VOTW-insta (1).png

Meet Ilse Eidhof of The Radboudumc (Netherlands). The PhD student is part of the Drosophila Models of Brain Disorders Research Group led by Annette Schenck. A 2016 Drosophila Neurobiology course alumna, Ilse returns to campus for the 2017 Neurobiology of Drosophila meeting where she presented a poster.

What are your research interests? What are you working on?
I am interested in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders, and use the fruit fly as the model to understand the mechanisms underlying these disorders. 

Was there something specific about the Neurobiology of Drosophila meeting that drew you to attend?
I have a number of reasons for attending this meeting. For one, I believe this meeting to be one of the greatest in Drosophila neurobiology and its long list of speakers consists of those who are absolutely the best in the field. In addition, this meeting provides a platform to interact with other Drosophila scientists; and I am particularly interested in new technological innovations that are presented and discussed here.  

What is your key takeaway from the meeting?
Mainly the current state of today's Drosophila research and which new tools and techniques I can incorporate into my own work.

How many CSHL meetings have you attended? How about CSHL courses?
This is the second meeting at CSHL I am attending; and in 2016 I was part of the Drosophila Neurobiology: Genes, Circuits & Behaviors course. 

If someone curious in attending a future iteration of Neurobiology of Drosophila meeting asked you for feedback or advice on it, what would you tell him/her?
I would definitely recommend those interested in this meeting to attend because I believe it to be one of the biggest and greatest in the field. It covers a broad range of topics - from basic neurobiological questions to technological innovations and disease modeling - that there is basically a topic of interest for everyone. Plus, the overall quality of the research presented is quite amazing. 

What do you like most about your time at CSHL?
I really like the open atmosphere at CSHL; and there are numerous opportunities to meet and interact with fellow scientists in the field. 

Thank you to Ilse for being this week's featured visitor. To meet other featured scientists - and discover the wide range of science that takes part in a CSHL meeting or course – go here