North Central Florida Society for Neuroscience hosts 14th annual conference 

By Michelle Koidin Jaffee

The North Central Florida Society for Neuroscience this week held its 14th annual regional conference, featuring a keynote address by Saul Villeda, Ph.D., of UCSF, a poster competition and consecutive-day data blitzes.

Hosted by the only student-run SfN chapter in the nation, the conference kicked off Feb. 25 with a social and short data blitz at the Cypress & Grove event space and continued Feb. 26 with a daylong symposium at UF centered around the theme of novel therapeutics in aging.

SfN 12“We always love putting together our annual conference, because it brings together a broad set of researchers from different disciplines,” said Andrew Moore, a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience at UF and current president of the SfN chapter. “We have posters and presenters from neuroscience, of course, but also psychology, pharmacology and molecular biology as well as clinical neuropsychiatry. Sabrina Zequeira, this year’s conference chair, and vice chair Lexi Riley-DiPaolo did an amazing job recruiting participants from across our region. This has been a goal of ours since COVID, and this year we finally achieved it.”

Zequeira said the success of the conference is a testament to the unwavering commitment of the chapter towards fostering a trainee-focused environment.

“Here, trainees are not just attendees but active participants, seizing the opportunity to network, engage and seek invaluable guidance from both their peers and faculty,” she said. “Through panels addressing critical topics like the financial dynamics of lab management, this conference epitomizes the mission of NCF SfN to empower the next generation of leaders in academia.”

Panel speakers included UF neuroscience faculty members Eduardo Candelario-Jalil, Ph.D., and Nancy Padilla-Coreano, Ph.D.; Eric Wang, Ph.D., of the UF department of molecular genetics & microbiology; and May Khanna, Ph.D., of the department of pharmacology & therapeutics.

SfN 13Villeda delivered an engaging keynote on “Deciphering the mechanisms of cognitive rejuvenation” to some 80 attendees.

 “We were extremely excited to have Dr. Villeda come to UF to talk about his work on neurorejuvenation,” Moore said. “The McKnight Brain Institute has such a strong foundation of neurodegeneration research, so we wanted to find someone who would have a unique perspective that complements the work being done here.”

The conference was supported by the MBI; the UF department of neuroscience; UF Breathing Therapeutics and Research Center (BREATHE); and UF Brain Injury, Rehabilitation, and Neuroresilience Center (BRAIN Center). With 180 registrants in all, it wrapped up with the announcement of the poster winners:

Undergraduate/Staff poster winners:

First place: Allison Volmer

Second place: Rashika Rao, M. Eng.

Third place: Sophia Uhlvar

Graduate student poster winners:

First place: Samantha Rakela

Second place: Cristina Besosa

Third place: Dimitri Brunelle

Postdoctoral fellow poster winner:

 Zak Krumm, Ph.D.

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Young woman presenting her scientific poster