OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Mississippi’s minor program in neuroscience recently hosted its first-ever research showcase, which gave about 20 students an opportunity to present their own studies to a panel of faculty judges.
The event also allowed faculty to give presentations and show posters about their research and talk about the overall scope of activities in their respective labs. One goal of the event is to help raise awareness about the neuroscience minor across campus.
“We hope collaborations might form out of these interactions during the event,” said Lainy Day, associate professor of biology and director of the university’s neuroscience program.
Rich Forgette, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said the neuroscience research showcase is a tremendous learning opportunity for students.
“The showcase is important since undergraduate research is increasingly valued for graduate school admissions,” Forgette said. “The college is grateful to Professor Day and others for enriching our neuroscience program and supporting undergraduate research.”
Participants came from several university departments, including biology, psychology, communication sciences and disorders, biomolecular sciences, and pharmaceutics and drug delivery. Toshikazu Ikuta, assistant professor of communication sciences and disorders; Janet Lambert, associate research development biologist; and John C. Garner, associate professor and interim chair of the Department of Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, all served as judges at the event.
“It was encouraging and exciting to see the depth and passion for neuroscience research from the students,” Garner said. “They all did a very nice job with all aspects of their presentations and the question-and-answer session, making it very difficult to choose the winners.”
The following students won awards at the research showcase:
- Amy Hribar, a graduate student in biology, won first place overall and first place in the behavioral neuroscience category for a presentation on “Bird on Live Wire: Cued Fear Conditioning in the Zebra Finch.”
- Goutham R. Adelli, a pharmacy graduate student, won second place overall for a presentation titled “Ex vivo and In vivo Evaluation of Topical Hesperetin Matrix Film for Back-of-the-Eye Delivery.”
- Glendin Pano, a senior biology major, won third place overall and second place in behavioral neuroscience for a presentation on “The Sexiest Birds Have the Largest Brains: A Positive Relationship between Display Complexity and Brain Volume in Manakins.”
- Megan Jones, a senior biology major, won third place in behavioral neuroscience for a presentation titled “Male Lays Eggs: Chromosomal and Mate Preference Abnormalities in a Chimeric Zebra Finch Lineage.”
- Walid Alsharif, a pharmacy graduate student, won first place in applied neuroscience for a presentation titled “Development of Dual Sigma Receptor Antagonist Dopamine Reuptake Inhibitor as Potential Treatment for Stimulant Abuse.”
- Pankaj Pandey, a pharmacy graduate student, won second place in applied neuroscience for a presentation on “Protein Structure-Based Virtual Screening: Identification of Natural Product-Derived Hits as Cannabinoid Receptor 1 Modulators.”
The wide range of research presented at the showcase demonstrates how many academic departments conduct neuroscience research in which students enrolled in the minor program can participate, Day said.
“These posters show you the variability within neuroscience and why we need this interdisciplinary neuroscience minor because people in the field of neuroscience are spread between at least four schools and eight departments,” Day said. “We want people to understand there’s a connection between all the areas of neuroscience, even if on the surface it doesn’t seem that way.”