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Gaudet, Andrew - Write Up

2008 Round 1 International Award
Conference: Society for Neuroscience, Washington, DC

Thanks to funds provided by the DHRN, I attended the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington, D.C. in November 2008.  This conference is renowned in our field for its size – over 30 000 scientists attend each year - and for the variety and depth of topics covered.  It came as no surprise, therefore, that there was no shortage of information.  The key was to have a plan each time you entered the conference centre.  Are you going to attend a symposium or a poster session?  Which posters in the airplane hangar-sized room do you really want to see (the posters were numbered like an Excel worksheet – A-ZZ)?  I found the poster sessions to be especially worthwhile.  They provided opportunities to exchange ideas and to learn about interesting findings and techniques that are at the cutting edge of scientific progress.  In addition, the conference was a fantastic place to make connections: I chatted with influential professors, and met with other graduate students and post-docs.

I presented two posters at the conference: one on my Ph.D. work, and the other on research on my teaching practice.  My Ph.D. project is focused on finding ways to improve recovery following injury to peripheral nerves.  Although peripheral nerves in humans can regenerate following injury (e.g. after cutting a nerve in your finger), recovery is usually delayed and incomplete.  I am looking at the role of a protein called galectin-1 in a model of peripheral nerve injury, with a view of contributing to worthwhile therapies in the future.  In addition, it is possible that these sorts of treatments might enhance recovery following spinal cord injury.  My second poster was based on research my colleague and I completed while instructing an upper-level university course.  We found that engaging students in small group activities daily is effective at enhancing learning and enhances the sense of community in the university classroom. I was encouraged and re-energized by the feedback that I received at both posters: everyone who came by was extremely positive and offered constructive suggestions.

My labmates and I were at the conference for most of our stay in Washington, but it wasn’t all work: we attended conference-sponsored socials and checked out the historic sites on National Mall. The graduate student dance party was a highlight – it was interesting to see fellow students (trying to) bust a move on the dance floor.  A frigid bike tour past all the monuments and museums on the Mall with a labmate is another great memory. Note to self: next time you go to D.C. in November, bring a warm jacket!


International Award Winners: Hewapathirane, S., Inskip, J., Mikhail, D., Mills, P., Ramer, L., Simonette, G., Yiu, J., Zwicker, J., Chen, S.,  Faradaji, F
National Award Winners: Beirnes, K., Bundon, A., Hume, A., Lige, S., Schiarti, V.