Society for Neuroscience Honors Dedicated Mentors and Creative Early-Career Researchers
CHICAGO — The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) will honor two leading researchers who have made significant contributions to the advancement of women in neuroscience and two early-career researchers who have demonstrated great originality and creativity in their work. The awards will be presented during Neuroscience 2019, SfN's annual meeting and the world's largest source of emerging news about brain science and health.
"SfN is fortunate to be able to recognize these talented neuroscientists," said SfN President Diane Lipscombe. "The mentors SfN is recognizing this year are both outstanding neuroscientists with exemplary careers who have also devoted themselves to the professional development of women through generous and thoughtful mentorship," she said. "The early-career researchers we are recognizing are extraordinarily talented scientists whose drive and ingenuity will continue to yield exciting discoveries for the field of neuroscience."
Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Mentoring: Marina Picciotto
The Bernice Grafstein Award for Outstanding Accomplishments in Mentoring recognizes individuals dedicated to developing the careers of female neuroscientists. Named after the first female president of SfN, the award recognizes leaders who have aided the early careers of women neuroscientists and facilitated their retention in the field. Honorees receive a $2,500 prize in addition to complimentary registration and travel to SfN’s annual meeting.
The 2019 honoree is Marina Picciotto, PhD, professor of psychiatry, pharmacology, and neuroscience at Yale University. Picciotto is an inspiring researcher who has made exceptional scientific contributions to our understanding of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and how nicotine acts in the brain. She pioneered the use of knockout mouse technology to study nicotine receptors and how these receptors influence brain function and complex behaviors. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, and has served as editor-in-chief of JNeurosci since 2015.
Throughout her stellar career, Picciotto has been a role model to many women scientists. Within her lab, she has successfully mentored 22 female graduate and postdoctoral scientists and many more undergraduates. She has influenced countless others outside her lab and maintains an open door to her former trainees. As deputy chair for basic science research, she developed a mentoring program to facilitate independence and academic promotion among the junior faculty, including women and members of underrepresented groups. Her dedication to mentorship is also evident in the paired peer-faculty mentoring program she developed for MD/PhD students at Yale.
Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award: Hollis Cline
The Mika Salpeter Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes neuroscientists with outstanding achievements in research who have significantly promoted the professional advancement of women in neuroscience. The award includes a $5,000 prize as well as complimentary registration and travel to SfN’s annual meeting.
Hollis Cline, PhD, chair of the department of neuroscience at the Scripps Research Institute, is an innovative scientist who has made fundamental contributions to our understanding of how sensory experience affects the development of brain structure and function. Her seminal work on cellular interactions in the retina and brain of the frog have enabled unprecedented examination of individual neurons and their axonal and dendritic dynamics over time. By combining molecular and genetic techniques with quantitative observations of structural and functional plasticity, Cline’s work has revealed how activity-dependent brain plasticity is implemented at the cellular level.
Cline’s contributions to science go beyond her exceptional research. She has served as a council member for the National Eye Institute and the National Institute of Neurological Disease and Stroke of the NIH and the Blue Ribbon Panel for the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Cline was also the president of the Society for Neuroscience in 2016. She is an inspiring scientific role model, having trained over 40 graduate students and postdoctoral scientists in her lab, over half of which have been women, and many more undergraduates and research assistants. She takes an active role in helping trainees achieve their career goals, and devotes one-on-one time to all mentees in her lab, from postdocs to graduate students to technicians to undergraduate and high school interns.
Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award: Zoe Donaldson and Michael Yartsev
The Janett Rosenberg Trubatch Career Development Award recognizes early-career professionals who have demonstrated originality and creativity in their research and promotes successful academic transitions prior to tenure. Supported by the Trubatch Family, the award includes a $2,000 prize and complimentary registration for the SfN annual meeting for each recipient. This year, the Society for Neuroscience is recognizing Zoe Donaldson and Michael Yartsev for their trailblazing work in behavioral research in atypical model organisms: prairie voles and bats.
Zoe Donaldson, PhD, is assistant professor in the departments of molecular, cellular, & developmental biology and psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado, Boulder. She is an innovative and intrepid researcher whose interdisciplinary work draws from genetics, neurobiology, psychiatry, and evolutionary biology to dissect the molecular and neural circuitry underlying social and emotional behavior. She developed the first germline transgenic prairie voles, greatly expanding the use of the vole as a model for social neuroscience. Her work addresses the need to understand the neurobiological processes involved in attachment and grief, and she has previously been awarded fellowships from Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and is a recipient of the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award.
Michael Yartsev, PhD, assistant professor in the department of bioengineering and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley, applies cutting-edge neural techniques to bats to understand how brain circuits mediate spatial and social behaviors; two specialized functions of bats. His lab also studies the vocalization system of bats to understand the neural circuits that could mediate its acquisition and utilization for communication. To undertake these studies, he develops and implements a wide array of molecular, anatomical, and neurophysiological methodologies in freely behaving and flying bats, including optogenetics, electrophysiology, anatomical tracing, and calcium imaging. Since joining the faculty at UC Berkeley, he has received several awards including the Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, the New York Stem Cells Foundation Investigator Award, and the Pew Scholar Award.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 36,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.