By Mollie Rappe
It’s a bitter cold morning in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
By 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22, the temperature has risen to 17 degrees. Factor in the 20-mph winds that whip into the small Cape Cod village from the waters of Vineyard Sound, and the temperature with wind chill registers 0 degrees — downright balmy compared to the previous day, which reached a high of 6 degrees, wind chill excluded.
But a hardy group of faculty members and graduate students from Brown University’s neuroscience department don’t let the frigid temperatures faze them.
They are at an immersive workshop, or practicum, held at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL). The NeuroPracticum is a nine-day workshop with hands-on rotations where a dozen first-year graduate students explore everything from the activity of a single calcium ion channel — a protein critical for transmitting signals within the nervous system, including triggering the release of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and acetylcholine — to tracking the behavior of worms.
“The academic goal of NeuroPracticum is to be able to put into practice all of this theoretical knowledge the students have been learning in classes about how neurons work, how people do science and how experiments are run,” said Anne Hart, professor and vice chair of Brown’s neuroscience department.
“There’s nothing like putting your hands on something to understand how it works.” Read more …
Caption: Prof.Nick Dentamaro/Brown University