A Meeting of the Minds and Brains
This year, I, along with two Vanguard students, got to travel to our nation’s capital to present the data from our experiments performed last summer through Vanguard’s Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).
At the annual SfN (Society for Neuroscience) conference, the two students, Vanessa Fernandez and Alliana Talaugon, presented our research on the differential effects of spaced and continuous exercise in protecting against dopaminergic toxicity in an animal model of Parkinson’s Disease. Surprisingly, our results showed that spaced exercise was more effective in reducing the neurotoxic effects of 6-OHDA compared to continuous exercise. For the students, the event was both exhilarating and nerve-wracking. As several neuroscientists came to the poster, Vanessa and Alliana clearly and concisely presented our findings. Though they were nervous about being asked difficult questions, they soon recognized that the purpose of the meeting was for the scientific community to learn, engage, share, and explore new ideas. The students loved the insightful discussions that they had. They also got to make connections with graduate students and other professors.
At this year’s SfN, I also got to meet up with Dr. Paige Braden-Kuhul, Vanguard’s newest professor for the Psychology department. Her project focused on the long-term effects of Mediterranean diet against amyloid beta production, which is one of the main hallmark features of Alzheimer’s Disease. As a former Vanguard student, we reminisced and shared memories. As passionate neuroscientists amid an array of posters and vendors trying to sell us everything from rat food to EEGs, we “nerded out” and discussed possible research collaborations and new classes to co-teach at Vanguard.
Overall, for both the students and myself, it was a great experience. We learned from other researchers, met new people, and explored the city!