Thanks for dying!

April 13, 2012

The new SfN award, named for the legendary Particia Goldman-Rakic, honors dead people.

That’s right, the site emphasizes that it is a posthumous award for scientists who were fabulous, supported women in science, were active in SfN or other academic organizations….all that good stuff.

Plus, dead. Not living. A sort of ex-scientist.
This is nuts.

Honor people while they are still alive. If someone dies tragically early, sure make the award posthumously. But let’s put our focus on recognizing people while they can still receive the accolades.

Interesting post up at the haydenlab blog:

In the post-SFN hangover phase, many neuroscientists are in a slightly more anxious state about the possibility that they are about to be scooped. Surely with all those posters, you must have seen someone who has the same brilliant idea in their head as you, right?

With a few exceptions, these fears turn out to be silly. Why?

The author then goes on to list a number of reasons why getting scooped* is not as bad as is usually imagined. I tend to agree** with the points being made. One that is obscured is that in most areas of real science, the paper that does the best job is going to rack up the the respect and citations. Even if it appeared after the very first report of the general phenomenon.

So I tend to think scientists should remember they are playing the long game. And not get too concerned about the possibility that they are about to get scooped.

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*someone else manages to publish an experimental finding that you are working on before you get your paper published.

**the pursuit of GlamourMag science prioritizes the first publication of something over many other factors, including scientific quality and genuine impact, for example.

The Backyard Brains folks are at it again.

Presentation 22.17SU/YY91 will be on display Saturday 1:00 p.m. – Sunday 5:00 p.m. with their presentation time scheduled for Sunday. It is entitled:

The blue light special: a portable, low-cost optogenetics kit for the classroom

The abstract reads:

Optogenetics is an innovative technology for studying brain circuits, but to date the lay public has had little exposure to its potential and limited access to low-cost tools to do experiments. What if you have an interest in cutting-edge neuroscience but you aren’t near a university? What if you prefer to do science in your garage, in a truck-bed, or on a plane on a boat? What if you are a high school biology teacher who wants to keep your students abreast of the most current neurotechnology but the latest millage did not pass? We can help you! We have designed a low-cost, easy-to-build, and portable electrophysiology rig for simple optogenetics demonstrations. The rig consists of a extracellular amplifier (our SpikerBox), a 3D-printed 3-axis micromanipulator, an off-the-shelf monocular 30X microscope, a high intensity blue LED (light-emitting diode), and an LED control circuit that can be precisely controlled with a tailor-made iPhone application or simple tone generator. We have successfully used our first clunky prototype to record blue light-evoked electromyograms from channelrhodopsin-2 expressing Drosophila larvae. We plan to spend the summer refining our prototype (making it more stable, improving control of light emission) and genetic tools. We plan to begin demonstrations in high school classrooms by Fall 2011. We also have other low-cost neurotechnology inventions to show you, so come by our poster to participate in real-time peer review!

Right? RIGHT? You know you think this is cool. Go see their presentation folks, they always amuse, entertain and educate.

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Update for additional reading on Backyard Brains and Marzullo and Gage
The $100 Spike
The $100 SpikerBox v1.0
Backyard Brains

I will extend my usual no-promises offer. If you care to offer up your presentation details in the comments or by email (drugmnky at the gmail) I will endeavor to stop by. Who knows? If it is really cool I might even blog it.

(Don’t forget to visit NIH Row)

As those of us in the neurosciences prepare for our largest annual scientific gathering, we should attend to a certain little task to assist with the odds of obtaining NIH grant funding. Part of that process is a long game of developing interpersonal relationships with the Program Officers that staff the NIH ICs of interest to our individual research areas. Many scientists find the schmoozing process to be uncomfortable and perhaps even distasteful.

To this I can only reply “Well, do you want to get funded or not?”.

This post originally went up Nov 12, 2008. I’ve edited a few things for links and content.


One of the most important things you are going to do during the upcoming SfN Annual Meeting in Washington DC is to stroll around NIH row. Right?

I have a few thoughts for the trainees after the jump. I did mention that this is a long game, did I not? Read the rest of this entry »

The Society for Neuroscience is accepting applications, due May 20, for the Neuroscience Scholars Program. The fellowships are to pay for attending the Annual Meeting of the SfN, membership dues and some unspecified stipend for local activities.
The part that contributes to one of our off-again, on-again conversations around these parts is the specification of Eligibility for the program.

Individuals from racial and ethnic groups that have been shown by the National Science Foundation to be underrepresented in health-related sciences on a national basis.

Okay, standard “minority” stuff here. Light the torches, my affirmative action antagonists, light the torches.

Read the rest of this entry »

Book these guys for #sfn12 in New Orleans. The lead singer Woodie can let his postdocs take care of the posters..


Direct Link


COI notification: He may have bought me a beer or three now and again…

Posters, FTW!

November 15, 2010

Just two days in and already I’ve had a ton of useful chats at posters during the SfN Annual Meeting. Most of the useful conversations are about matters other than what is on the poster the person is presenting at this time.

  • Reminders of what people did in the past, that I had forgotten or never knew about.
  • Exchange of info about the reality behind the polished papers.
  • Talks about the data not yet published because a slightly unexpected finding (we share) makes tradition-minded reviewers get the collywobbles.
  • Collegial sharing about the current directions and progress for a topic of interest.
  • Revelations about just who is breathing down our neck on which project.

The poster floor at a meeting is where it is AT. I can talk to people I know really well anytime via phone or email. If you are upstairs outside of the platform presentation rooms glad handing your best buds you see everywhere you are missing out.

I’m always eager to see what the Backyard Brains braintrust has been up to this past year by visiting their presentation at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting. Looks like you’ll also want to join Drs. Gage and Marzullo at posterboard 206.7/LLL42 Sunday Nov 14 at 10am to find out how you can get your own remote navigation system for your common household pest, the cockroach.

SfN 2010: The BlogTwittup

November 2, 2010

Sfn10BANTER.jpgDr Becca and Tideliar, both of LabSpaces.net, have organized a social event for the online folks during the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting. Details are on this banner and you can visit Fumbling Toward Tenure Track or Some Lies to see who you might find attending.

As those of us in the neurosciences gear up for our annual tribal meetup, my mentoring hat turns to a topic that is dear to my heart. Namely, increasing the odds that my readers, who are all exceptionally brilliant and deserving scientists, will be successful in obtaining NIH grant funding. Part of that process is a long game of developing interpersonal relationships with the Program Officers that staff the NIH ICs of interest to our individual research areas. It is indubitably the case that many scientists find the schmoozing process to be uncomfortable and perhaps even distasteful. To this I can only reply “Well, do you want to get funded or not?”.

This post originally went up Nov 12, 2008. I’ve edited a few things for links and content.


One of the most important things you are going to do during the upcoming SfN Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA is to stroll around NIH row. Right?

I have a few thoughts for the trainees after the jump. I did mention that this is a long game, did I not? Read the rest of this entry »

cross posting from Scientopia:
The Society for Neuroscience has announced the bloggers which have been selected for official recognition and promotion during the 2010 Annual Meeting to be held in San Diego (Nov 13-17).

Theme A: Development
www.functionalneurogenesis.com/blog/
(Twitter @jsnsndr)
http://geneticexpressions.wordpress.com/
(Twitter @geneticexpns)
Theme B: Neural Excitability, Synapses, Glia: Cellular Mechanisms
www.hillaryblakeley.net
(Twitter @hillaryjoy)
http://qscience.wordpress.com/
(Q[science]ultd)

Theme C: Disorders of the Nervous System

http://fresheyes-neuroscience.tumblr.com
(alc2145)
http://houseofmind.tumblr.com
(Twitter @houseofmind)
Theme D: Sensory and Motor Systems
http://blog.pascallisch.net/
(Twitter @Pascallisch)
http://neuromusings.com
(The Neuro Dilettante – Twitter @neurodilettante)
www.davidderiso.com
(Twitter @davederiso)
Theme E: Homeostatic and Neuroendocrine Systems
www.dormivigilia.com
(Twitter @Beastlyvaulter)
Theme F: Cognition and Behavior
http://neurosci.tumblr.com
(Twitter @aechase)
http://neuroblog.stanford.edu
(Twitter @stanfordneuro)
Theme H: History, Teaching, Public Awareness, and Societal Impacts in Neuroscience
http://khawaja-sfn2010.blogspot.com
(Twitter @thekhawaja)

I encourage you to check them out, comment, read and put them on your list for the week of the meeting. Especially if you cannot attend in person.

The Society for Neuroscience has announced the bloggers which have been selected for official recognition and promotion during the 2010 Annual Meeting to be held in San Diego (Nov 13-17).

Theme A: Development
www.functionalneurogenesis.com/blog/
(Twitter @jsnsndr)
http://geneticexpressions.wordpress.com/
(Twitter @geneticexpns)

Theme B: Neural Excitability, Synapses, Glia: Cellular Mechanisms
www.hillaryblakeley.net
(Twitter @hillaryjoy)
http://qscience.wordpress.com/
(Q[science]ultd)

Theme C: Disorders of the Nervous System

http://fresheyes-neuroscience.tumblr.com
(alc2145)
http://houseofmind.tumblr.com
(Twitter @houseofmind)

Theme D: Sensory and Motor Systems
http://blog.pascallisch.net/
(Twitter @Pascallisch)
http://neuromusings.com
(The Neuro Dilettante – Twitter @neurodilettante)
www.davidderiso.com
(Twitter @davederiso)

Theme E: Homeostatic and Neuroendocrine Systems
www.dormivigilia.com
(Twitter @Beastlyvaulter)

Theme F: Cognition and Behavior
http://neurosci.tumblr.com
(Twitter @aechase)
http://neuroblog.stanford.edu
(Twitter @stanfordneuro)

Theme H: History, Teaching, Public Awareness, and Societal Impacts in Neuroscience
http://khawaja-sfn2010.blogspot.com
(Twitter @thekhawaja)

The online planner / abstract search engine for the Society for Neuroscience 40th annual meeting (San Diego, Nov 13-17) is available and so I’m mapping out my plans.

One component that I’ve enjoyed in the past couple of years is visiting the posters of the readers of this blog. So if you are presenting your work and would like me to swing by (time permitting) then please send your presentation details to drugmnky AT gmail DOT com. If you want the rest of the readership here to visit, put your presentation in the comments on this post.

If you are in a position that Journal of Neuroscience is to be sneered at for an insufficiently high IF, you are a GlamourMag scientist. Topic is irrelevant at that point.