News & Announcements

Past news and announcements are shown below. Current news is shown on our homepage.

NSB alumn receives award

Eliza L. Nelson, an alumn of the NSB Program received the Hennessey-Smotherman Best Student Paper Award at the 44th annual meeting of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology in Washington, D.C. in November 2011. Publication:  Nelson, E.L., Emery, M.S., Babcock, S.M., Novak, M.F., Suomi, S.J., & Novak, M.A. (2011). Head orientation and handedness trajectory in rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta). Developmental Psychobiology. 53: 246-255.  The Hennessy-Smotherman Best Student Paper Award is made for the best paper by a student published in Developmental Psychobiology over a one year period. The goals of the award are:  (1) to promote the highest quality of student research in the field of developmental psychobiology, and (2) to encourage students in the field to submit their best work to Developmental Psychobiology. 

Linda Witt to retire

Congratulations and best of luck to Linda Witt on her retirement in January 2012, after 30 years of dedicated service to the University, the last 25 of which have been as Program Manager of the Neuroscience and Behavior Program.

Sandra Petersen receives Distinguished Outreach Research Award

Sandra Petersen, a faculty member in the NSB Program, received the College Distinguished Outreach Research Award.

Jason Breves receives Best Postdoctoral Poster Award

Jason Breves, a postdoc in the lab of Rolf Karlstrom and an associate member of the NSB Program received the Best Postdoctoral Poster Award from the North American Society for Comparative Endocrinology.

Lisa Scott receives Early CAREER Development Award

Lisa Scott, a faculty member in the NSB Program received a prestigious Early CAREER Development Award from the National Science Foundation.

NSB represented at US-Latin American Neuroendocrine Workshop

Nafissa Ismail, postdoc and Associate Member of the NSB Program won a Young Investigator Travel Award, and Jeffrey Blaustein, Director of the NSB Program gave the keynote address at the US-Latin American Neuroendocrine Workshop in Vina del Mar, Chile in August, 2012

Graduate Students in the News

Lauri Kurdziel, a graduate student in the NSB Program, won the Best Poster Award at the annual Life Sciences Graduate Research Symposium on November 16, 2012.  Lauri presented a poster on, "Emotional memory consolidation over mid-day sleep in early development."

John Hernandez, a first year graduate student in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program was named a USDA Fellow by the American Association of Hispanics in Higher Education (AAHHE), based on his Master's thesis at University of Texas at San Antonio.  His thesis, which earned him the designation of finalist in the competition for outstanding thesis in food and agricultural sciences is entitled, "Long-term sensitization alters the biophysical properties of a decision-making neuron in the feeding neural circuit of Aplysia Californica."   John will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to attend the Career Preparation Institute (CPI) to be held in conjunction with the AAHHE in San Antonio, Texas March 26-30, 2013.

Emily Manoogian, a graduate student in the NSB Program, recently received a Love of Learning Award worth $500 from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi—the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines. She is one of 140 recipients nationwide to receive the award, which helps fund post-baccalaureate studies and career development.  Emily was initiated into the Society in 2011 at University of Massachusetts Amherst. Emily plans to use the award to travel to work with her collaborators at University of Pennsylvania to learn new genetic techniques.  Congratulations to Emily!

Emily Manoogian and Akshata Sonni were inducted into the UMass chapter of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.

Amarylis Velez-Perez was recently awarded a three year Graduate Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

Lauri Kurdziel and Akshata Sonni, graduate students in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program working in the Rebecca Spencer laboratory were each awarded Trainee Awards from the Sleep Research Society.  They will receive funds towards the conference travel and registration, and also were accepted to participate in the Trainee Symposia.  Akshata also received a Fellowship for the Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience – a 2-week short course in Santa Barbara this summer.  

Distinguished Alumni Awards

The UMass Amherst Alumni Association recognized the outstanding achievements of alumni, faculty, and friends with its highest honor at the Massachusetts State House on April 14, 2010. This year's recipients share an ongoing passion for their work and for UMass Amherst. Dr. Melinda Novak, Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience faculty member, received the Distinguished Faculty Award.  On April 13, 2011, Dr. Jeffrey D. Blaustein, Director of the Neuroscience and Behavior Program received the Distinguished Alumni Award at the State House in Boston.

Distinguished Teaching Award

Lauri Kurdziel received a 2010 Distinguished Teaching Award. This is a campus-wide award reliant on nominations, evaluations and recommendations from current faculty and students. Each year, faculty, graduate, and undergraduate student committees review well over 100 nominations in a two-step process of data collection and analysis prior to selecting three faculty and two teaching assistant awardees. DTAs receive a monetary prize and are recognized at both the Undergraduate and Graduate Commencements. While at UMass, Lauri has taught or served as the TA for Methods Lab (Psych 241, Fall 2008), Behavioral Neuroscience (Psych 330, Spring 2009), Learning and Thinking (Psych 320, Spring 2009), Statistics (Psych 240, Fall 2009), and Junior Writing (Psych 392, Spring 2010). John Mullin (Dean of the Graduate School) honored Lauri Kurdziel and Brian Yellen (Geosciences) at an award luncheon at the University Club on April 28, 2010.

Melinda Novak - Recipient of Distinguished Primatologist Award

The American Society of Primatologists (ASP) presented Dr. Melinda Novak with the Distinguished Primatologist Award at their Annual  Meeting, September 16-19, 2011 in Austin Texas.  In the 34 years of  their existence, this is only the 16th time the ASP has chosen to bestow this award. The Distinguished Primatologist Award honors a primatologist who has had an outstanding career and made significant contributions to the field. Dr. Novak is one of the world's leading experts on the psychological well-being of non-human primates, and as a recipient of this award, she will be invited to deliver the Distinguished Primatologist Address at the 2012 meeting of the Society.

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