Shayna Williams-Burris

The NSIDP Congratulates

Shayna Williams-Burris 
from the lab of Arthur Arnold for her
acceptance to the Neural Systems and Behavior course at the Marine Biological Laboratory

The Neural System and Behavior (NS&B) course at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA selects 20 students each summer from an large pool of applicants to participate this immersive course, which spans didactic instruction of fundamental neuroscience topics to practical application of the most modern techniques. The two month long intensive course meets 6 days per week and involves daily morning lectures by top faculty in a breadth of fields, then hands on lab experience beginning after lunch and usually going until midnight.

Shayna is a 7th year student in the NSIDP defending April 2016. Shayna’s PhD work characterizing a new mouse model of Klinefelter syndrome, caused by the karyotype XXY, allows for improved understanding of how hormones and genes contribute separately to physical and behavioral traits of the syndrome. So far this work has produced one first author paper, and was featured as a "hot topic" dynamic poster at SfN 2015.

Shayna will attend NS&B just after graduating and plans to use the course to regain neurophysiology skills to combine with her PhD experience with neurogenetics and behavior, and to integrate these three approaches to increase understanding of mental illness in a postdoctoral fellowship and future career in academic research.

Capital Hill Day

NSIDP Students Attend SfN’s Capitol Hill Day

This year, two NSIDP students, Andrew Thompson and Jennifer Tribble, joined fellow Society for Neuroscience members at SfN’s Capitol Hill Day. During Hill Day, they had the opportunity to speak to representatives and their staff to advocate for sustained funding to support biomedical research. Specifically, this year Andrew and Jennifer were requesting our representatives to support the increases in NIH and NSF funding, to at least $34.5 billion and $8 billion, respectively.

Not only was it thrilling to spend a day advocating on Capitol Hill, but it was also a valuable lesson in science communication. We practiced and critiqued our elevator pitches for a non-academic audience, and had a chance to discuss our research to non-experts. For anyone interested in science communication or science policy, we would highly recommend this experience!


Brain Awareness Week

UCLA Celebrates Brain Awareness Week

UCLA hosts an annual Brain Awareness Week in recognition of the global campaign to increase public awareness of neuroscience and the progress of brain research. The event is organized by a current NSIDP graduate student, who coordinates Project Brainstorm, an outreach group within the Brain Research Institute that makes weekly visits to low-income, low-opportunity K-12 schools all over Los Angeles to teach students about neuroscience. 

This year for Brain Awareness Week, 250 5th to 12th graders visited UCLA, where they enjoyed interactive activities hosted by UCLA neuroscience undergraduate and graduate students! Participants explored fundamental neuroscience concepts, such as the different lobes of the brain, synaptic transmission and brain injury, observed sheep brain dissections to learn about parts of the brain as well as brain evolution, and learned popular neuroscience topics, such as the phantom limb syndrome, reflexes versus reaction times, the stroop effect and more! Students also visited different UCLA neuroscience laboratories, interacted with current scientists, and learned about the research process and the principles of various areas of ongoing research.

Brain Awareness Week 2016 could not have been possible without the efforts of previous coordinators, graduate students from neuroscience and other departments, undergraduates from Project Brainstorm, and members from Psych in Action, Interaxon and Project Synapse. The event has received much positive feedback from both the evaluations students filled out at the end of each day as well as verbal comments. Schools have even begun inquiring about participating in next year’s Brain Awareness Week! 

For more information: 


Theresa Harrison

The NSIDP Congratulates

Esther H Nie
From the lab of S Thomas Carmichael, MD, PhD
Winner of the Eva Kavan Prize for Excellence in Research on the Brain

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate student for excellence in the field of basic research in neuroscience 

Esther is a medical student at the DGSOM, and a graduate student in the NSIDP. She obtained her Bachelor of Science in molecular biophysics and biochemistry from Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

Esther’s graduate studies focused on how the brain learns and recovers after injury. In the Carmichael lab, she has explored how these two processes intersect during limb overuse therapy after stroke. During her dissertation research, Esther identified molecular targets to improve cortical reorganization after stroke. At present, she uses cutting edge CRISPR/cas9 genome engineering techniques to further understand the underlying biology of these targets.

In the future, Esther hopes to be a neurologist and lead her own research lab.

Eva Mary Kavan, MD, came to UCLA in 1956 to join one of the first teams to do open-heart surgery in the west. She was a pioneer in the administration of anesthesia, utilizing the electroencephalogram to perform important research on the effects of the heart-lung machine on brain function during open-heart operations.


Tessa Harrison portrait

The NSIDP Congratulates

Tessa Harrison
From the lab of Susan Bookheimer, PhD
Winner of the 24th Annual Samuel Eiduson Student Lecture Award

This award recognizes an outstanding graduate student in the neurosciences who has done especially commendable work during dissertation research.

Tessa Harrison is a fifth year graduate student who will defend her doctoral thesis in July. She received her bachelor’s degree in Neurobiology from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Before graduate school, Tessa worked as a research assistant at the Cognitive Neurology and Alzheimer’s Disease Center at Northwestern University in Chicago.

Tessa’s research focuses on the study of aging and neurodegenerative disease in humans, specifically to illuminate the preclinical phase of dementia syndromes. Her particular innovations include the development of a novel approach to combining risk alleles for Alzheimer’s disease, and integrating this information with brain imaging measures of hippocampal structure.

Since joining the Bookheimer lab in 2011, Tessa has published 2 papers as first author and a comprehensive review discussing multiple risk genes and approaches to combining genes in the journal Biological Psychiatry.

Dr Samuel Eiduson served as chair of the NSIDP from its inception in 1972 until 1985. He was an exceptional educator and mentor, instrumental in advancing the careers of many UCLA neuroscientists and graduates.

UCLA is the home of an outstanding and vibrant neuroscience community, including laboratories in diverse departments in the David Geffen School of Medicine, the College and the Samueli School of Engineering. UCLA offers graduate training in Neuroscience through the Interdepartmental PhD Program for Neuroscience (NS-IDP). The program includes about 150 laboratories in diverse areas spanning the field from molecular analysis to genetics and behavior. Students in the program learn modern problem solving skills and use state of the art approaches to explore a deeper understanding of how the brain processes information. The program, which is part of the larger Bioscience Graduate Program at UCLA typically admits 10-15 students per year that have a genuine interest in the brain and in contributing to solving some of its mysteries.


Upcoming Events


  1. NARF

Tuesday, May 31st

  1. Spring 2016 - Filing Deadline

Thursday, June 2nd

  1. BRI Visual Neurosciences Affinity Group talk

Friday, June 3rd

  1. NSIDP End-Of-Year Social