Graduate students from Brown University headed to the MBL for NeuroPracticum—an immersive eight-day workshop where students gain hands-on neuroscience experience.
By Brown University News Staff
Meghan Gonsalves, a first-year neuroscience graduate student at Brown University, spends most of her time studying imaging techniques used to measure brain activity in humans. So when she was asked to dissect the brain of a fruit fly — which is roughly the size of a poppy seed — she thought she wouldn’t be able to do it.
By later on the same January day, Gonsalves found herself gazing in awe at a video of a glowing fly brain. She had stained and imaged the brain using a confocal microscope to visualize neurons that affect fly behavior.
“To be able to manipulate your data through a microscope is pretty crazy,” said Gonsalves, who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brown as well. “I was really nervous doing this because I’m computational/behavioral-oriented. This shows I’m capable of doing more than I thought I was capable of.”
Gonsalves gained that experience as one of 19 first-year students in Brown’s neuroscience graduate program who participated in NeuroPracticum, an immersive workshop with hands-on rotations held in January at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Students spent eight days exploring various neuroscience techniques, from optogenetics (the use of light to control cells, such as neurons, in living tissue) and electrophysiology (the study of the electrical properties of biological cells and tissues) to tracking mouse behavior and analyzing tithe genes that make flies sleepy.
“The goal is to get students excited about doing science, and to get them learning what the various aspects are,” said Karla Kaun, an assistant professor of neuroscience who helped to organize this year’s NeuroPracticum. “MBL is a magical science space for students. This course is truly a unique opportunity for first-year students.” Read more…