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  • Project Encephalon: A Phe-neuro-menal Journey

    Introduction Project Encephalon (PE) is an international community and a non-profit based in India, that aims to create an online platform for neuroscience enthusiasts to discuss and learn neuroscience. We aid students to get exposed to the myriads of realms in this interdisciplinary field, inspiring a holistic approach to brain sciences and allied disciplines and motivating them to become future leaders. We began our journey with a simple ‘Hi’ in the chatbox of the 'Monsoon Brain Meet', and today that gesture has turned into a global venture with 1000+ members representing 40 countries in less than 1 year amidst the pandemic. Community Although we comprise individuals from the broad expanse of neuroscience and allied fields like psychology, psychiatry, neurology, bioinformatics, engineering, and computer science, the one synapse that connects us all is our passion to learn about different facets of neuroscience. This multitude of backgrounds propel us to explore topics from a wide range of perspectives and as a result, boosts our understanding of Neuroscience. We host a diverse member base, including high schoolers, undergraduates, graduates, and early career researchers, in addition to a plethora of other professions. We aim to develop an organization that is accessible to everyone regardless of their socioeconomic background. As a result, we do not charge any membership fee, and all our endeavors are free of cost! To enhance unity and ensure a safe space among all nationalities, religions, sexualities, gender identities and expressions, races, castes, ethnicities, and economic and academic backgrounds, we abide by a strict code of conduct and a comprehensive constitution. Our Work Journal Club To promote the academic endeavors of its members, we conduct monthly Journal Clubs, where amateurs and experts from all over the world deliver talks about their research or present peer-reviewed research articles. We have successfully completed eight Journal Clubs and aim to draw more such informative discussions from the confines of a lab and provide a globally inclusive platform for disseminating neuroscientific knowledge. We have even introduced Spotlight Journal Club which is a tri-monthly event where renowned researchers from different disciplines of neuroscience are invited to present a talk and, in the process, inspire the new generation to make it big in the field. Paper Club Another initiative that serves to further the academic purpose of PE is the Paper Club. We try to involve our extensive memberbase in an informal discussion on a paper or research article of their choice. The paper is selected from one of the various servers on the Discord channel that hosts this memberbase catering to the varied disciplines in Neuroscience such as Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience, Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, Computational Neuroscience, Psychology, Clinical and Translational Neuroscience, Neurotechnology, and Developmental Neuroscience. In the Paper Club, members are invited to discuss various aspects of the selected paper such as the introduction, experimental procedure, and the future direction of the field involved. Through this we try to help amateurs learn more about the advances in a particular field and provide a platform for professionals to discuss their research interests with a relevant audience. Furthermore, we also give students interested in research a basic idea about the process of reading a research paper which is imperative for a career in research. NeuroNovember Convention 2020 NeuroNovember was a collaborative youth-led initiative, co-organized by PE, to delve deeper into the fascinating field of neuroscience via a 4-day Convention, which spanned across the last two weekends of November. It was essentially aimed at raising awareness about the issues and topics that neuroscience entails. This unique event featured 23 invited talks, a lab tour, 4-panel discussions, competitions for school and university students, as well as, opportunities to engage and network with leading speakers, organizations, and ventures to benefit the 800+ registered participants. Blog: We run two mutually exclusive blog series- Sapiens in Neuroscience and NeuroNotes- Sapiens in Neuroscience: Apart from promoting research in neuroscience, we also deem it necessary to recognize untold stories of people actively shaping the future of Neuroscience and bring them into the spotlight. In light of this, we run an interview series called Sapiens in Neuroscience, where we highlight people contributing to neuroscience, one story at a time! NeuroNotes: NeuroNotes is our new blog initiative that aims to create awareness on neuroscientific research writing by accepting submissions in all allied arenas of the field. Through this, we aim to provide a holistic perspective on neuroscience to our readers as well as give an opportunity to understand how peer review may work and help finesse writing skills. Podcast We are proud to announce that we will be launching our very own podcast series in the following months! We aim to reach out to and connect with the myriad of fantastic neuroscientists around the globe and invite them to talk about their research, their allied fields of interest, some behind-the-scenes which doesn't make it onto their publications, and, their journey so far. It will be really interesting to see how the answers to these questions vary across the different sub-disciplines, ages, and experiences of our guests. So far, we mostly get to interact with our favorite scientists on a sheet of paper, or through recorded seminars and talks; but we aim to bridge that gap with some candor, zest, and delightful conversation, and we want to kick off this venture with all of you! It’s about time that neuroscience conversation became ASMR. Cajal Week On May 1, 1852, a legend was born. A legend who radically changed the face of neuroscience forever with his Neuron Doctrine- Santiago Ramón y Cajal. As a tribute to this neuroscience grandmaster, PE organized a week-long event from May 1 to May 7, 2021, to celebrate his 169th birth anniversary. The event itinerary kicked off with a walk down memory lane to recount Cajal’s unparalleled legacy, followed by invited talks, panel discussions, and a host of exciting debates motivated by the intersection of art and neuroscience. Networking We run an online platform on Discord where members interact, discuss, and share resources related to neuroscience. PE members are offered an assortment of sub-areas to choose from, based on their specific interests. Owing to the diverse gamut of research-oriented members, one can connect and communicate with other like-minded individuals and exchange ideas critical to individual progress and cogent science. Guidance We have an excellent cohort of knowledgeable mentors as our Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) each of whom is a role model in their respective niches. They have been chosen to help bridge the gap between a neuroenthusiast and a neuroscientist. We have planned exclusive mentoring sessions with these esteemed scientists as a part of the ‘Ask SAC’ event, wherein members would have a chance to interact with the SAC, ask questions about their journey in neuroscience, their research interests, career advice, and almost all things pertaining to Neuroscience relevant to the mentor. Future Goals In the future, we wish to include a surfeit of new activities like mental health symposia, science communication newsletters and comic series, a mobile application to provide neuroscience-related facts at the user’s fingertips, and a scientific journal. In the long run, we aspire to fund students’ research and provide internship stipends. We dream of a world where knowledge is not bound by the chains of socio-economic status or any other impediment but is freely available for those who cast around for it. This motto has been instrumental in shaping PE into what it has become today and continues to motivate us to work towards manifesting such a dream into reality in the near future with our combined efforts. Author: Pranjal Garg, Amartya Pradhan, Anushree Krishnamurthy, Shreshth Shekhar, Meghana Janardhanan, Mohit Kumar Jaiswal

  • Yajing Xu

    Do not be afraid to walk your own path, whether in science or not. Growing up in China and Germany, my parents encouraged me to participate in mathematics and biology competitions, something I really enjoyed. Solving problems and puzzles always filled me with a sense of satisfaction, and that aspect of science still appeals to me today. I knew that I wanted to do science, so during my undergraduate, I applied to as many research internships as I could. Two of my internships were in immunology laboratories, during one of which I first heard about microglia. Fascinated by the fact that these cells can move around your brain and eat up neurons, which spurred me on to pursue them in my research, ever since. I was very lucky to have brilliant and supportive supervisors during my Ph.D. However, even within a supportive environment, there will be times when you doubt yourself. Mental health issues are common in academia, as competition for grants is fierce and job stability, rare. What I learned is to never be afraid to ask for help, and build your own support network that you can rely on. Ultimately, do not be afraid to walk your own path, whether in science or not. There are so many different ways of doing neuroscience, which I only realized after entering the field. You can study the brain from the molecular and cellular scales up to systems and behavior, and the skills involved can include biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, computer science, and everything in between. Regardless of your background, you can find a niche in neuroscience to apply your skills. However, as technology advances, the bottleneck in science has often become data analysis rather than data acquisition, so computational skills are becoming increasingly indispensable. What I enjoy most about working in academia is the relative freedom to plan your own day and the intellectual stimulation you get from your colleagues. You never stop learning new things. Science has certainly shaped my thinking and I apply it to everyday problems the same way I apply it at work. If you are thinking of doing a Ph.D., get research experience as early on as you can. It doesn’t really matter which field, but you’ll get a sense of what science is like, and it will help with your applications. Doing a Ph.D. prepares you for more than just science. Even if you do not stay in research, it can be a valuable experience. You learn to think independently, be persistent, and gain valuable management and problem-solving skills. In the words of my former Ph.D. supervisor: “Plough your own furrow”, and don’t be afraid of change. About Yajing Xu is a postdoctoral researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, where she studies how inflammation and other immune reactions (such as influenza) affect brain function, focusing in particular on a type of immune cell in the brain called microglia.

  • Karina Bistrong

    I feel forever indebted to my mentors and support system, and looking back, I feel it is my responsibility to pay that forward and encourage young students to never give up and keep learning because the potential to do so truly has no bounds. “Do what you love, and love what you do.” This was my high school senior quote. I remember always wanting to be a scientist, but the journey from being curious about biology to actually performing neuroscience research was a gradual one. Sparked by my love for school and learning, I soon would chase the rush I felt when solving a complex problem. What I love most about learning, is the inevitability of it. The process of learning culminates when new knowledge is gained and new concepts are crystal clear. It’s quite beautiful when you think about how much in the world there is to understand, making the process of navigating life through learning seem almost infinite. As an undergraduate, I was following a pre-med track. However, when given the opportunity to explore internships, I almost always gravitated towards research settings rather than clinical ones. After three full-time research internships, I decided medical school was not the path I wanted to follow. From that point, I was ready to jump into research wholeheartedly. Being raised by a single mother and moving often as a child, led me to find comfort and stability in my academics. Academia was the biggest constant in my life and I decided I would stay in school until I found what I loved- neuroscience. My life’s journey was not always linear, but through many obstacles and with guidance from many wonderful mentors along the way, I am currently a second-year graduate student in UC Berkeley’s Neuroscience Ph.D. program. Even now, in graduate school, I am still diving headfirst into new and unfamiliar research topics. I joined the lab of Marla Feller, which studies the neural circuitry of the retina-- where local circuit computations begin to process the abundance of information that lies within the visual scene. So far, graduate school has been an incredible learning experience for both my growth as a scientist and as a person. Being surrounded by so many people with similar scientific goals but vastly different backgrounds and experiences have enabled me to push the envelope further and test the limits of my own knowledge and abilities. I am not quite sure what the future has in store for me, but I hope I can contribute to this field in an impactful and memorable way. The advice I would give to my younger self and those interested in neuroscience is, be patient with yourself, be open-minded, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! Asking questions is the foundation of scientific discovery and there is no question too rudimentary. The world is for you to find what you love and to empower others along the way. Once you find that, keep doing it until it's what you do. I feel forever indebted to my mentors and support system, and looking back, I feel it is my responsibility to pay that forward and encourage young students to never give up and keep learning because the potential to do so truly has no bounds. About Karina Bistrong is a second year graduate student in the Helen Wills Neuroscience program. She is conducting her research on the development of retinal circuit in Marla Feller's lab at UC Berkeley.

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  • NeuroNotes | Project Encephalon

    NeuroNotes ​ NeuroNotes is a new blog initiative brought to you by Project Encephalon, that aims to create awareness on neuroscientific research writing by accepting and publishing submissions in all allied arenas of the field. The aim is to provide readers with a holistic perspective on neuroscience as well as give an opportunity to understand how peer review may work to help finesse the writing skills of many novice scientific communicators. Through this, PE would like to reach out to passionate neuroscience enthusiasts to explore the world of brain sciences in a captivating and scientifically correct manner. For queries contact us at: editor@projectencephalon.org , info@projectencephalon.org . Guidelines for NeuroNotes Blog The length of your write-up should not be more than 1,000 words. The theme of the submission should be neuroscience or neuroscience-related fields only. Explain technical/academic jargon wherever you mention them, clearly. It is encouraged to write in an engaging and conversational tone. All information mentioned in the submission must be factually correct, accurate, and up-to-date. If any information has changed during or after the submission process, contact the editors for access to change the same. The references should be provided with inline citations. You can use this tool to ensure proper referencing style for the bibliography. You can submit using this Email ID: editor@projectencephalon.org . Please be ready with the following while emailing the submission: 100 characters bio of the author. Your submission in an MS Word Document format (with full name and credentials mentioned in the document itself) 100-150 word abstract/summary of your article. Your photograph (optional). Images/Graphs to be published along with the article. Make sure you have permission to share and publish them (optional). Social media accounts [Insta, LinkedIn, FB] of the author (optional). ​

  • History | Project Encephalon

    History A passage through the history of Project Encephalon Evolution of Logo and Name Designed by Anushree Krishnamurthy SIGN Student Interest group in Neuroscience 24/07/20 - 8/09/20 Designed by Amartya Pradhan Project Encephalon Student Interest group in Neuroscience 8/09 /20 - Present The Timeline

  • Sapiens in Neuroscience | Project Encephalon

    Sapiens in Neuroscience Highlighting people contributing to Neuroscience, one story at a time! YAJING XU Yajing Xu is a postdoctoral researcher at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Read KARINA BISTRONG Karina Bistrong is a Graduate Student at Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California Berkeley, USA. Read GREGORY YOUDAN He is an Independent Movement Scientist, Dancer & Pilates Instructor and Research & Advocacy Coordinator at Dance/NYC. Read NOSRATULLAH Nosratullah Mohammadi is studying master of computational neuroscience at IASBS, Zanjan, Iran Read ILENNA JONES She is a PhD candidate at UPenn. Before that she worked as a technician on epigenetic psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, USA Read PRAACHI TIWARI Praachi is a research scholar pursuing Neuroscience at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research-Mumbai, India Read

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