Author: Crystal Mills

Save the Date: IBACS Meet & Speak 2022

We are excited to announce that the date of the IBACS 2022 Meet and Speak event will be Friday, April 29th from 2-5pm. Our current plan to hold the event in-person, however, this may change. 
 
For those of you who are not familiar with the event, affiliated faculty (from the Storrs campus and UConn Health Center) will give presentations describing, in accessible language, the research they have carried out, or propose carrying out, with seed funding previously awarded by IBACS. Graduate students affiliated with the Institute will be performing short “datablitz” style presentations about their involvement in Seed Funded or related research. The event will also include a keynote talk by an internationally recognized speaker relevant to the brain and cognitive sciences community, TBD. The IBACS Meet & Speak will provide an opportunity to learn more about the diverse research that IBACS affiliates are engaged in, and will provide a forum for cross-disciplinary networking.

Please save the date! A formal invite and details will be sent out as the event gets closer. Enjoy the rest of the semester and the upcoming holidays!

Reminder: IBACS Graduate Fellowship Applications Due 12/3

The Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (CT IBACS) is inviting applications to its Graduate Fellowship Program.

These summer fellowships are intended for graduate students working on topics with relevance (broadly construed) to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. IBACS Graduate Fellows attend a short grant-writing workshop and will be expected to submit an application to the NSF GRFP, NRSA (pre- or post-doctoral fellowship), or equivalent, in the Fall.

Deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, December 3rd, 2021.

Graduate students who are not US citizens are eligible to apply and are expected to work with their advisor to develop an external research proposal if they are not eligible for graduate fellowships. Students who were fellows in summer 2020 may apply if they submitted the external grant proposal they developed last year and it was not funded, with the expectation that they will revise their previous grant or develop a new one.

Please refer to the full details here.

Call for IBACS Graduate Student Fellowship Applications

The Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (CT IBACS) is inviting applications to its Graduate Fellowship Program.

These summer fellowships are intended for graduate students working on topics with relevance (broadly construed) to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. IBACS Graduate Fellows attend a short grant-writing workshop and will be expected to submit an application to the NSF GRFP, NRSA (pre- or post-doctoral fellowship), or equivalent, in the Fall.

Deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, December 3rd, 2021.

Graduate students who are not US citizens are eligible to apply and are expected to work with their advisor to develop an external research proposal if they are not eligible for graduate fellowships. Students who were fellows in summer 2020 may apply if they submitted the external grant proposal they developed last year and it was not funded, with the expectation that they will revise their previous grant or develop a new one.

Please refer to the full details here.

 

Reminder: IBACS UG Awards

A reminder that the IBACS academic year undergraduate awards are on a rolling deadline until 2/21/22. Once funds are exhausted, the application will close. Please share with the undergrads in your labs and reach out to me if you have any questions. Further details can be found on our UG Award page. Thank you!
Best,
Crystal Mills
Institute Coordinator

Educational Playcare Fellowship Reminder

A reminder that we are reviewing applications for the EducationalPlaycareFellowship on a rolling basis. This fellowship provides up to 20 weeks of free, full-time daycare to IBACS-affiliated graduate students, to be used within the first year of their child’s life. The fellowship is intended to support students who become new parents during their graduate studies and to facilitate their return to their studies/research. Two fellowships are available each year. The fellowship is made available through a generous gift from Educational Playcare.
 
This provides an important opportunity to help with childcare arrangements for not only those still working on campus but also those working from home during these difficult times. 
 
Further details are available on the IBACS websiteAn article about the Fellowship appears in UConn Today

Call for IBACS Graduate Fellowship Applications

The Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (CT IBACS) is inviting applications to its Graduate Fellowship Program.


These summer fellowships are intended for graduate students working on topics with relevance (broadly construed) to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. IBACS Graduate Fellows attend a short grant-writing workshop and will be expected to submit an application to the NSF GRFP, NRSA (pre- or post-doctoral fellowship), or equivalent, in the Fall.

Deadline for receipt of applications is Friday, December 11, 2020.

Graduate students who are not US citizens are eligible to apply and are expected to work with their advisor to develop an external research proposal if they are not eligible for graduate fellowships. Students who were fellows in 2020 may apply if they submitted the external grant proposal they developed last year and it was not funded, with the expectation that they will revise their previous grant or develop a new one.

Please refer to the full details here. 

IBACS Meet & Speak on 10/10

The CT Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBACS) invites you to our annual Meet and Speak event on Saturday, October 10th. During this event, we hope to showcase more of the interdisciplinary work that our affiliates do, so in addition to having our recent seed recipients to speak, we have asked some specific faculty affiliates from various disciplines to speak as well. These faculty will give up to 10-minute presentations describing, in accessible language, the research they have carried out, or propose carrying out in relation to the Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Graduate students affiliated with the Institute will be providing short “datablitz” style presentations about their involvement in IBACS seed-funded or fellowship-supported research. Following the graduate student blitz, there will be a panel discussion to commemorate our 5-year anniversary. The panel will discuss questions such as the following: What does brain science/cognitive science mean to you? What are the challenges to progress that particularly excite you? What are the opportunities for progress? Where is brain science/cognitive science heading, or where should it head?   Following the panel discussion, we shall have a keynote by Dr. John Gabrieli, MIT. According to Google Scholar, he is in the top 10 most cited individuals in Cognitive Neuroscience. His talk is entitled “Environmental Influences on Human Brain Development”. More information about Dr. Gabrieli is below.

This event will be held virtually on Zoom. Please note that the majority of the talks will be pre-recorded and played during the event, although attendees can ask questions to the speakers live. The panel discussion and Keynote Speaker talk will both be live. The program is attached and also available on our website.  Zoom details will come soon – please visit this webpage for the most up-to-date information.

This event will provide an opportunity to learn more about the diverse research that IBACS affiliates are engaged in, and will provide a forum for cross-disciplinary networking. We hope you can join us on October 10th to celebrate our 5-year anniversary!

 If you are interested in attending all or part of this event, please pre-register by Friday, October 2nd. Note that pre-registration is just to give us an idea of the number to expect over Zoom.

 

 

About John Gabrieli:

Bio: John Gabrieli is the director of the Athinoula A. Martinos Imaging Center at the McGovern Institute. He is an investigator at the McGovern Institute, with faculty appointments in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Institute for Medical Engineering & Science, where he holds the Grover Hermann Professorship. He also has appointments in the Department of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and is the director of the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative. Prior to joining MIT in 2005, he spent 14 years at Stanford University in the Department of Psychology and Neurosciences Program. He received a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience in MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a BA in English from Yale University.
 

Talk title: Environmental Influences on Human Brain Development 

Abstract: Neuroimaging provides new views on how environmental factors influence human brain development.  I will review findings about associations (1) among family socioeconomic status (SES), brain anatomy, and academic performance; (2) between early language experience and brain function and structure; and (3) between stress and brain function and how those can be altered by mindfulness training.

Announcing IBACS Undergraduate Awards

IBACS is happy to announce the fifth year of the undergraduate research grant program!

The application period for the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 research grant program opens today, Tuesday, September 1st, 2020, and the deadline for applications will be 11:59 pm on Monday, February 22nd, 2021Note that the academic year applications will now be reviewed on a rolling basis and awards will be made until funds are exhausted, or up until the application deadline. In other words, apply early! 

It is expected that applicants will be conducting research with IBACS faculty members, focusing on any research area associated with the IBACS mission.  Faculty sponsors will need to supply a letter of recommendation. Once the applicant lists the faculty advisor of the project in the form, an email will be sent to the faculty member with directions for how to submit the letter.  Applicants must fill out the online application, and also submit via the online application, a relatively short research plan (maximum of 6,000 characters, approximately 3 pages) and a budget that explains in detail how the funds will be spent. The application link is listed below. It is recommended that the student first compose the research plan and budget using a word processing program, and then upload the final versions on to the website.

THIS PROGRAM IS NOT MEANT TO PROVIDE DIRECT FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO STUDENTS. Instead, it is meant to provide support for the research. The account will be set up with the faculty sponsor after the award is given. It is expected that there will be ten awards of up to $1,000 during the Fall 2020/Spring 2021 academic year. The funding is meant to defray the research-related costs such as materials & supplies, minor equipment, software, animal or participant-related costs. The budget should reflect these expenditures.

 Recipients cannot apply for another grant within the same academic year, however, are eligible for the summer research grant program, provided that they are still a UConn student at the time. Please note that the application period for the summer research grant program will open on Monday, February 22nd, 2021, and the deadline for applications will be 11:59 pm on Friday, March 12th, 2021

All recipients are encouraged to present their work at the Frontiers in Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition.

 The IBACS undergraduate award academic year applications are reviewed based on the following criteria:

  • The project description is well written and clearly explains the project.
  • The project clearly focuses on a research area associated with the IBACS mission.
  • The budget is itemized, appropriate to the project described, and reports the total cost of the project (even if it exceeds the funding requested).
  • The advisor is familiar with the student’s project and rates the student’s work to date highly. 
  • Where project applications are equally meritorious, the reviewers will take note of how the student’s project will contribute to the advisor’s research goals.
  • The student and his/her project meet the eligibility criteria.
  • The student has secured research compliance approval(s) if necessary for the project. No award will be issued until documentation of approval(s) is received.

       IBACS Fall 2020/Spring 2021 Application: https://quest.uconn.edu/prog/ibacs_undergraduate_research_grant_-_fall_2020spring_2021/

       Please visit our website for more information. 

      Call for IBACS Seed Grant Applications

      The Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (CT IBACS) is pleased to announce a new call for applications to its seed grant fund. Full details (and forms for the required letter of intent) can be found on the Institute website. 

       The seed fund is intended to fund activities in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (broadly construed) that are likely to lead to applications for external funding, or which otherwise contribute to the mission of the Institute. Successful applications will typically involve collaborations that require expertise across laboratories and traditional disciplinary boundaries. The Institute does not usually fund research that might normally be considered to fall within the scope of a single lab or discipline. 

      Applications for small grants (<$10,000) can be submitted at any time; applications in excess of $10,000 should be submitted by October 1st 

      Please submit letters of intent as soon as possible, but at least 2 weeks prior to the seed grant application deadline (by 9/17/20), to allow time for review and feedback. 

      The Institute also invites applications for affiliate memberships. 

      Martin Flament Fultot Doctoral Dissertation Defense

      IBACS Summer Fellow Martin Flament Fultot, will be giving his doctoral dissertation defense on Wednesday, July 22nd at 12:00 PM in a Virtual Conference Room.  A copy of the dissertation entitled “Tensegrity and Recurrent Neural Networks: Towards an ecological model of postural coordination” is available from the Graduate Program Office (psychgrad@uconn.edu).  

       Virtual Meeting Details:

      Link: https://zoom.us/j/5610742546?pwd=a3crZURsd2pMN2M4MWFPd0hWeFNCdz09
      Meeting ID: 561 074 2546

      Password: 1ThVCA

      OR

      Join by phone: +1 302-273-8917 (PIN: 736590208)

      Title of dissertation: Tensegrity and Recurrent Neural Networks: Towards an ecological model of postural coordination
      Major Advisor:
      James Dixon

      Abstract: Tensegrity systems have been proposed as both the medium of haptic perception and the functional architecture of motor coordination in animals. However, a full working model integrating those two aspects with some form of neural implementation is still lacking.In this dissertation, a basic two-dimensional cross-tensegrity plant was designed and its mechanics simulated. The plant was coupled to a Recurrent Neural Network (RNN), because of the latter’s anticipatory properties and distributed internal dynamics. The model’s task was to maintain postural balance against gravity despite the intrinsically unstable configuration of the tensegrity plant. The RNN took only proprioceptive input about the springs’ lengths and rate of length change and output minimum lengths for each spring which reset their Hookean profiles and modulated their interaction with the plant’s inertial kinetics. An evolutionary optimization algorithm generated four artificial agents capable of coordinating the patterns of spring contractions in order to maintain dynamic equilibrium. A first study assessed quiet standing performance and revealed coordinative patterns between the tensegrity rods akinto humans’ strategy of anti-phase hip-ankle relative phase. The agents showed a mixture of periodic and aperiodic trajectories of their Center of Mass. Moreover, the agents seemed to tune to the anticipatory “time-to-balance” quantity in order to maintain their movements within a region of reversibility. A second study perturbed the system with mechanical platform shifts and sensorimotor degradation. The agents’ response to the mechanical perturbation was robust and most could maintain balance afterwards. Dimensionality analysis of the RNNs’ unit activations revealed a pattern of slight degree of freedom recruitment during the timesteps following the onset of perturbation. In the degradation sub-study, different levels of noise were added to the inputs to the RNN and different levels of weakening gain were applied to the forces generated by the springs to mimic haptic degradation and muscular weakening in elderly humans. As expected, the systems performed less well, falling earlier than without the insults. However, the same systems re-evolved again under the degraded conditions saw significant functional recovery. Overall, the dissertation supports the plausibility of RNN cum tensegrity models of haptic-guided postural coordination in humans.