University of Vermont

Neuroscience Graduate Program

About UVM Neuroscience Graduate Program

News Archive

Drs. Parson and Hamill featured in Vermont Medicine Magazine

Gary Mawe, PhD, Receives International GI Disorders Research Award

Patricia Prelock, PhD, has been appointed president of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Jeremy Sibold, EdD, honored for teaching

Helene Langevin, MD, Named Director of Harvard/Brigham and Women’s Osher Center for Integrative Medicine

Emerging Science Series on VPT Features Two NGP Faculty

NBH sponsored Macmillan Symposium and Lecture

UVM Welcomes New NBH Faculty

Margaret Vizzard, PhD selected as a 2012-13 University Scholar

UVM Neuroscience Faculty Members Identify a Protein Biomarker Linked to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Women

First Annual Neuroscience, Behavior and Health Research Forum Attracts a Large Number of Participants

NGP faculty member Mark Bouton has been named the first Robert B. Lawson Green & Gold Professor of Psychology


The Neuroscience Graduate Program recently celebrated the successful completion of a dissertation defense.

Abbie Chapman Johnson defended February 23, 2015. Her dissertation was titled: “Mechanisms of Seizure during Pregnancy and Preeclampsia” Abbie worked in the lab of Marilyn J. Cipolla, PhD, Department of Neurological Sciences.


NBH 10th Annual Forum

The Tenth Annual Neuroscience, Behavior and Health Research Forum was held on Friday, January 23rd and Saturday, January 24th at UVM's Davis Center. Congratulations to NGP students  Estelle Spear winner of the platform talk and Nicholas D'Alberto winner of the poster session.


Congratulations to NGP Alum Greg Lieberman

The lead article for the November issue of the Journal of Pain is by Magdalena Naylor's team with Greg Lieberman, PhD as a first author. Greg graduated UVM's Neuroscience PhD program this year and presently is a post-doctoral Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience, University of New Mexico. Other authors are: Marina Shpaner, Richard Watts (Radiology), Trevor Andrews (Radiology), Christopher Filippi (Radiology), and Marcia Davis. To read the article, click here.


NGP Alum Publishes in Perspectives

Former NGP grad student Patrick Long, who earned his PhD in 2013 is the lead author on a Perspectives article published in Science Magazine 10/17/14. To read the article, click here


 NGP Holds Annual Lab Coat Ceremony and Welcomes New Students

On Friday, October 17, 2014, NGP students and faculty gathered at The Waterman Manor to welcome six new students to the program. Adrian Dutkiewicz, Gregory Johnson, Alisha Linton, Matthew McCabe, John McInnis and Stephanie Staszko began the program this summer and have already successfully completed the first class in the NGP required curriculum. During the remainder of their first year they will continue to take courses and complete 2-3 lab rotations. At the end of their first year they will choose their dissertation lab.

The second year students who recently joined their dissertation labs were honored in the annual NGP Lab Coat Ceremony. Students were presented with a lab coat embroidered with their name and program affiliation to celebrate the important work that lies ahead of them.


The Neuroscience Graduate Program recently celebrated a successful defense.

Kathryn C. Olds defended a master's degree on October 15, 2014. Her thesis was titled: "Inhibitory Control Efficiency in Successful Weight Loss Participants" Kathryn's advisor was Hugh Garavan, PhD, Department of Psychiatry.


The Neuroscience Graduate Program recently celebrated the successful completion of a dissertation defense.

Matthew LeComte defended July 17, 2014. His dissertation was titled: “Direct and Indirect Targets of Jagged1/Notch1 Signaling in Reactive Astrocytes” Matthew worked in the lab of Jeffrey Spees, PhD, Department of Medicine. Matthew is now completing his medical degree in the College of Medicine at UVM.


Liana Merrill, PhD, has been accepted into the Fellowships In Research and Science Teaching (FIRST) Program at Emory University. She will be a fellow in the lab of Gretchen Neigh, PhD.


St. Clair presents research at the Northeast Society of Developmental Biology Regional Meeting

NGP student Riley St. Clair, member of Bryan Ballif's lab, recently presented her research titled "Sema6A-PlxnA2 Signaling Negatively Regulates rasl11b to Maintain Proliferation of Retinal Precursor Cells during Zebrafish Eye Development." The presentation took place at the Northeast Society of Developmental Biology Regional Meeting at MBL in Woods Hole, MA.


Congratulations to NGP Alumni!

John DeWitt, PhD, has matched for a residency in pathology at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA.

Gregory Lieberman, PhD, will be pursuing a post-doctoral position at the University of New Mexico. He will be working as a post-doctoral fellow in cognitive neuroscience.

Jane Roberts, PhD, has matched for residency in internal medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA.


The Neuroscience Graduate Program recently celebrated the successful completion of a dissertation defense.

Liana Merrill defended on March 11, 2014. Her dissertation was titled: " Effects of Repeated Variate Stress on Urinary Bladder Function: Role of the TRPV4 Sensory Transducer " Liana worked in the lab of Margaret Vizzard, PhD, Department of Neurological Sciences.



NGP Student in UVM Impact: Graduate Education & Research News!

Eric Gonzalez, student in Margaret Vizzard's lab, has been featured in the March 2014 Graduate College Newsletter. To read article click here


5th Annual Vermont Brain Bee

The Fifth Annual Vermont Brain Bee was held at UVM on February 8th. NGP students Willie Curry and Anthony Pappas played major roles in assisting NGP Director Rae Nishi in running the daylong event. Anthony and Willie managed the gross practical, read questions during the bee and participated on a panel among other things. To read more about the Brain Bee, please click here.


Presentation at Annual Society for Neuroscience

NGP Director Rae Nishi recently presented a talk on diversity as one of the "Challenges to Neuroscience Training" in a meeting at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego. During her introduction Dr. Nishi touched on the importance of a diverse workforce, that diversity breeds diversity, and that pre-doctoral students from diverse backgrounds can enrich the educational experience of the entire program. She also noted that recruiting students of diverse backgrounds creates excellent role models for younger students. Students from underrepresented group comprise 21% of UVM NGP; this contrasts with 5.6% across all grad programs at UVM and 12% across all neuroscience grad programs in the US. To view Dr. Nishi's full presentation please click here.


The Neuroscience Graduate Program recently celebrated the successful completion of three defenses.

Nathan Jebbett defended on October 28, 2013. His disseration was titled: "Developmental Methylmercury Toxicity: Effects on Gliogenesis." Nathan's was Felix Eckenstein, PhD, Department of Neurological Sciences.

Gregory Lieberman defended on November 7, 2013. His dissertation was titled: "White Matter Involvement in Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain and Neuroplasticity following Cognitive Behavioral Therapy." His advisor was Magdalena Naylor, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry

Geoffrey J. Schaubhut defended a master's degree on October 31, 2013. His thesis was titled: "Impact of Task-Independent Emotional Stimuli on Response Inhibition in College-Aged Females" Geoffrey's advisor was Alexandra S. Potter, PhD, Department of Psychiatry.


Congratulations to Gene Cilento!

Gene Cilento was awarded the best poster presentation at the 15th Annual Department of Pharmacology Retreat. The title of Gene's poster was "Trim32 as a Regulator of Potassium Channels in the Brain." Gene is working Dr. Tony Morielli's lab.


Research Supplement to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research

Eric Gonzalez, a graduate student in the lab of Margaret Vizzard, PhD, received a research supplement to promote diversity in health-related research from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) to pursue studies that address the mechanisms underlying lower urinary tract symptoms associated with urinary bladder inflammation.


Congratulations to Liana Merrill, for receiving the Society for Neuroscience 2013 Chapter Travel Award! Liana will be going to San Diego, CA for the SFN Conference, where she will be presenting at the Travel Awards Poster Session.


Welcome to the following faculty who have recently joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program!

  • Rodney Scott, MD/PhD, Professor, Vice-Chair for Research, Neurological Sciences
  • Pierre-Pascal Lenck-Santini, PhD, Assistant Professor, Neurological Sciences

The Neuroscience Graduate Program recently celebrated the successful completion of a dissertation defense

Simone Otto defended on June 21, 2013. Her dissertation was titled: “Expression and colocalization of prostate stem cell antigen with alpha7 subunit containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in parasympathetic neurons." Simone’s advisor was Rae Nishi, PhD, Department of Neurological Sciences. Simone will be doing her post-doctoral work at National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, in Research Triangle Park in North Carolina.


Career Seminar

Dr. Grace Wong, CEO of ActoKine Therapeutics, recently presented “Career Decisions: Academia vs. Industry & Get a Foot in the Door – Yin & Yang Lessons Learned from Working in Biotech/Pharma.” This lecture was attended by graduate students and post-doctoral students at the university.


We are pleased to announce the following faculty have joined the Neuroscience Graduate Program!

  • Gregory Holmes, MD, Professor and Chair of Neurological Sciences
  • Matthias Brewer, PhD, Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Alicia Ebert, PhD, Assistant Professor of Biology
  • Alice Schermerhorn, PhD, Assistant Professor of Psychology
  • Dawei Li, PhD, Assistant Professor of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
  • Joshua Bongard, PhD, Associate Professor of Computer Science

NGP and the Doctorate of Physical Therapy Program collaborate

The NGP steering committee worked with the Dept of Rehabilitation and Movement Science (RMS) and the Graduate College to create a training track for students earning a doctorate in physical therapy (DPT) so they can earn a PhD in neuroscience.  Students co-apply to both programs, and are accepted into NGP if they are competitive with our normal pool of top applicants and they have been accepted into the DPT program.  As with MD/PhD students, the DPT students will transfer credits of relevant courses into NGP.  They will have the choice of any NGP mentor, but are most likely to train with our excellent faculty in RMS.  For more information about this program, please click here.


Summer Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship receives funding

We are pleased to announce that our long-standing Summer Neuroscience Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SNURF) program received funding from the National Science Foundation through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) grant program.  In addition, the College of Medicine is providing funding for two SNURFs.  NGP faculty members Felix Eckenstein and Gene Delay co-direct this program.  This year, the program received 235 applications from outstanding undergraduates throughout the US.  We have a highly diverse and extremely bright group of 10 students who are now "on board" for 10 weeks this summer. Faculty mentors are: Rona Delay, Bill Falls, Bryan Ballif, Jom Hammack, Felix Eckenstein, Jeff Spees, Rae Nishi, Margaret Vizzard, George Wellman, and Hugh Garavan.


Successful Spring  for Neuroscience Outreach

Our NGP Graduate Students and undergraduate neuroscience majors were active in the Burlington School District, this past March teaching students in grades 3-6 about the brain. Some of the activities that the school students participated in were: brain safety using an egg and a safety helmet, comparative anatomy using plaster models of animal brains, and illustrating how neurons work with a giant neuron model.
Once again our students helped with the Vermont Brain Bee held in the Sullivan Auditorium at the College of Medicine. Alexandra Potter, Asst. Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry delivered the keynote address, “Adolescents, Impulsivity and Brain Function.”
NGP students volunteered at the 2013 Vermont State Science & Math Fair held on April 13, 2013 at the Science Complex at Norwich University in Northfield, VT. Our students helped judge the 250 science projects and presentations.


The Neuroscience Graduate Program recently celebrated the successful completion of two dissertation defenses.

Patrick Long defended on March 21, 2013. His dissertation was titled: “Acetate supplementation as a novel cancer therapeutic against glioma stem-like cell." Patrick’s advisor was Diane Jaworski, PhD, Department of Neurological Sciences. Patrick will be doing his post-doctoral work at Harvard.

Carolyn Roman defended on March 29, 2013. Her dissertation was titled: "PACAP and PAC1 receptor signaling in chronic stress responses: implications for anxiety-related disorders." Carolyn worked in the labs of Victor May, PhD, Department of Neurological Sciences and Jom Hammack, PhD, Department of Psychology. Carolyn is now a post-doctoral student at the University of Washington, Seattle.


Congratulations to Carolyn Roman on receiving the 2013 Edith D. Hendley Award!
The Edith D. Hendley award recognizes a graduate woman who has demonstrated excellence in research, scholarship, and teaching who has also performed dedicated service to women. The award is named after Professor Emeritus Edith D. Hendley who has a long history of academic excellence and dedication to women. (Carolyn above, with summer mentee, Shannon Townsend)


Congratulations to Liana Merrill and Abbie Chapman for receiving awards at the Neuroscience, Behavior and Health Forum. The event was held at UVM's Davis Center January 18-19, 2013. Liana won the Graduate Student Oral Presentation Award. Her presentation was titled, "Role of vanilloid transient receptor potential cation channel (TRPV) 4 in bladder dysfunction in response to repeated variate stress (RVS) in male rats." Abbie won the Graduate Student Poster award which was judged by faculty. Her poster was titled, "An Enhanced Myogenic Vasodilatory Response To Hypotension In Posterior Cerebral Arteries Of Pregnant Rats Is Nitric Oxide Dependent."


NGP Students Participate in 2012 Society for Neuroscience Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

On October 13-17th, students and faculty from the Neuroscience Graduate Program attended and participated in the annual Society for Neuroscience Conference in New Orleans.  SFN’s annual meeting is the world’s largest forum for neuroscientists to present research and network. 

NGP Student Poster Presentations:
Liana Merrill, “Role of vanilloid transient receptor potential cation channel (TRPV) 4 in bladder dysfunction in response to repeated variate stress (RVS) in male rats”

Anthony Pappas, “Time course of the inversion of neurovascular coupling and altered spontaneous Ca2+ activity in astrocytic endfeet after subarachnoid hemorrhage”

Carolyn Roman, " Characterizing PACAP receptors involved in anxiety-like responses: Evidence for HPA-axis activation by BNST PACAP and PAC1 receptor signaling"

Kim Albert, “Menstrual Phase is Associated with Differences in Brain Activity During Psychosocial Stress”

Geoffrey Schaubhut, “Regulation of Impulsive Circuitry: Function of Emotional Faces”

Simone Otto, “Colocalization of the prototoxin prostate stem cell antigen with α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors and acetylcholinesterase in parasympathetic neurons”

Greg Lieberman, “Changes in White Matter as a Measure of Neuroplasticity Following Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Coping with Chronic Pain.” And second author on “Anatomical Changes Following Cognitive Behavioral Therapy in Patients with Chronic Musculoskeletal Pain.”

Nate Jebbett, "Low-level methylmercury enhances CNTF-evoked STAT3 signaling and astrocyte differentiation in cortical neural progenitor cells"


Jane Roberts Presented at NGM 2012 in Bologna, Italy

Jane Roberts, a fourth year MD/PhD NGP student, attended the Neurogastroenterology and Motility 2012 Conference in Bologna, Italy. Over a thousand registrants attended the meeting. Jane’s abstract was one of the few to be selected to be presented. Her presentation was titled “Free radical scavengers rescue decreased purinergic neuromuscular transmission in the inflamed colon” Jane is currently a student in the lab of Gary Mawe, PhD, a faculty member in the department of Neurological Sciences.


NGP Student Defense:

The Neuroscience Graduate Program recently celebrated the successful completion of a dissertation defense.

Jane Roberts defended on November 14, 2012. Her dissertation was titled: “Mechanisms of attenuated purinergic neuromuscular transmission
in the inflamed colon” Jane’s advisor was Gary Mawe, PhD, Department of Neurological Sciences. Jane is now completing her medical degree in the College of Medicine at UVM.


NGP Students Participate in 2012 College of Medicine Graduate Student Research Day

On September 20th, several Neuroscience Graduate Program students participated in the Annual College of Medicine Graduate Student Research Day. The event included oral and poster presentations, as well as a lecture by alumni James W. Aiken, PhD ’70. Patrick Long was awarded third place in the poster contest.


NGP Student Presentations:

Patrick Long, “Dietary acetate supplementation as a means of inducing glioma stem cell growth arrest”

Michelle McNamara, “Disruption of TrkB and TrpC3 disrupts DRG axon extension in E5 chicken embryo”

Vanessa Ochoa, “A newly identified prototoxin, LYPD6B, modulates the function of the heteromeric nicotinic acetylcholine alpha3 beta4 receptor."


Carolyn Roman, “PACAP and PAC1 receptor signaling in chronic stress responses: Implications for anxiety-related disorders”


NGP Welcomes New Students; Holds Annual Lab Coat Ceremony

On Friday, September 28, 2012, NGP students and faculty gathered at The Waterman Manor to welcome six new students to the program. Rehan Ali, James Bishop, Kutibh Chihabi, KC Olds, Roman Popov, and Estelle Spear began the program this summer and have already successfully completed the first class in the NGP required curriculum. During the remainder of their first year they will continue to take courses and complete 2-3 lab rotations. At the end of their first year they will choose their dissertation lab.

The second year students who recently joined their dissertation labs were honored in the annual NGP Lab Coat Ceremony. Students were presented with a lab coat embroidered with their name and program affiliation to celebrate the important work that lies ahead of them.

Neuroscience Outreach

Stephanie Spohn and Liana Merrill volunteered for the “Women Can Do Conference” a day-long event held at Vermont Technical College. The event was aimed at teaching high school girls about a career in technology and the trades. Stephanie and Liana showed the girls how to use microscopes and examine slides, how to design and run an experiment, and answer questions about what it's like to be a woman in science. They also talked about how they decided to become scientists. For more information about the organization visit Vermont Works For Women

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NGP Student Defenses:

The Neuroscience Graduate Program recently celebrated the successful completion of three students' dissertation defenses.

John DeWitt defended on August 6th. His dissertation was titled: “The Role of Ciliary Neurotrophic Factor and TRKB Signaling in Neuroblastoma.” John’s advisor was Rae Nishi, PhD, Department of Neurological Sciences. John is now completing his medical degree in the College of Medicine at UVM.

Gregory Engel defended on August 27th. His dissertation was titled: "Effects of Methylmecury on Notch Targets and Motor Nerve Development in Drosophila” Greg’s advisor was Matthew D. Rand, PhD, Department of Neurological Sciences. Greg is now a post-doctoral student at the University of California, Merced.

Michael Williams defended on August 24th. His dissertation was titled: "Secretin-Modulated Potassium Channel Tracking as a Novel Mechanism for Regulating Cerebellar Synapses.” Michael’s advisor was Anthony Morielli, PhD, Department of Pharmacology. Michael is a now a post-doctoral student at Dartmouth College.

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Last modified December 04 2015 09:34 AM