News & Announcements

Bekki Spencer Receives $2.64 Million from NIH for Preschooler Sleep Study

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Neuroscientist Rebecca Spencer at the University of Massachusetts Amherst recently received a five-year, $2.64 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to explore, in a series of laboratory and preschool-based studies, whether mid-day napping benefits learning in young children and helps them cope with emotions. Improving early education can enhance child development and school readiness, factors that are known to have lifelong effects on physical and mental health, she notes. Read more...

Chaia Flegenheimer Awarded CRF Dissertation Fellowship

Chaia, a fourth year doctoral student in the NSB Program, is the recipient of a $10,000 Dissertation Fellowship. Chaia studies, with the guidance of her mentor, Dr. Jennifer McDermott, the development of attention systems and its relationship to social cues in typically and atypically developing populations. Over the next year Chaia's work will explore the behavioral and neural effects of implicit stereotype threat on task performance and engagement in young women, and the protective impact of the Stereotype Inoculation Model (SIM). Chaia hopes her work will help researchers and educators better understand the extent to which the SIM can protect against stereotype threat effects, and help implement it to lessen gender disparities in STEM fields.

Agnes Lacreuse wins $443,755 award from NIH

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Agnes Lacreuse, Associate Professor in the Neuroscience and Behavior Graduate Program, recently received an R21 award from the National Institutes of Health to develop a primate model for menopausal symptoms. The title of the award is "Sleep, hot flashes and cognition: a non-human primate model for menopausal symptoms." The award is for $443,755 covering the period July 1, 2017 through June 30, 2019.

Li Awarded $1.6 Million NIH Grant to Study Inner Ear Signal Processing

Geng-Lin Li, biology, recently was awarded a five-year, $1.6 million grant by the National Institutes of Health to study auditory signal processing in the inner ear. His findings will expand basic understanding of hearing and could lead to better hearing protection. He says, “Our inner ear can process sensory signals with remarkable precision, but it comes with the cost of vulnerability, making it very easily damaged by noise and by aging. As we advance our basic understanding of hearing and satisfy our curiosity, new approaches could arise, allowing us to design better protection for people who work in a noisy environment.” (Read more...)

Janna Mantua receives award from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

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Janna Mantua has received an award from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine that will fund her post-doctoral fellowship at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Janna will be studying how sleep and traumatic brain injury (i.e., concussions) interact to impact emotional resilience and readiness in military and civilian populations. 

Plastics Compound BPS Alters Mouse Moms’ Behavior and Brain Regions--UMass Amherst Study Finds Impaired Behavior in Pregnant and Lactating Mice

In the first study of its kind, environmental health scientist Laura Vandenberg and neuroscientist Mary Catanese at the University of Massachusetts Amherst examined the effects of the compound bisphenol S (BPS) on maternal behavior and related brain regions in mice. They found subtle but striking behavior changes in nesting mothers exposed during pregnancy and lactation and in their daughters exposed in utero. Read more...

Jeff Blaustein discusses pros and cons of estrogen blockers on Inside Higher Ed podcast

Inside Higher Ed podcast episode highlighting Blaustein's research about estrogen blockers and how they relate to the treatment of breast cancer. Listen Here

Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium

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The 6th annual UMass Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium will be held on Friday, December 2. The event brings together graduate students from all areas of life sciences research at UMass to present their work in both talks (9:00 am-5:00 pm, Life Sciences Laboratories Building, Room S340) and a poster session/reception (5:00-6:00 pm). This event is open to everyone who wants to learn about the fantastic life sciences work going on at UMass! The schedule for presentations is available on the LSGRC website.

Ajay Kumar Wins $20,000 in Seed Money in Annual UMass Innovation Challenge Finals

Fourth-year NSB student, Ajay Kumar, received second-place honors in the 2016 UMass Innovation Challenge Finals that took place on April 7. Ajay accepted the award for GeneRisk, the software service he founded. GeneRisk allows medical clinicians to detect neurodevelopmental disorders, such as early indicators of autism. Medical professionals extract a patient’s saliva sample, which they send to a laboratory for gene sequencing and diagnosis. According to Kumar, to date, diagnosis of such disorders has relied largely on questionnaires and trial-and-error treatment, despite advances in understanding complex genetic disorders.

Coordinated by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, an initiative that promotes entrepreneurship across the UMass Amherst campus, the multi-stage Challenge, in its culminating event of the year, featured six student teams that vied for $65,000 in awards. Each finalist presented a three-minute project description, followed by twelve minutes of probing questions from the competition’s six judges.

Amanda M. Cremone writes about her sleep research for Huffington Post

NSB doctoral student Amanda M. Cremone writes about her sleep research into whether children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder might benefit from longer periods of sleep. One key area of inquiry is whether extended sleep in children with ADHD might reduce their impulsivity, she says.