Brain Bits: Best of 2017*

Welcome to a special year-end Brain Bits! Today I’ll discuss some of my favorite brain-related research from 2017. *Note: “Best of” = random papers that I liked. Apologies to the authors of all the other awesome 2017 papers that are not mentioned here!   How the brain creates an internal compass My favorite neuroscience story of the year was the discovery of the mechanism that … Continue reading

Fly Neurobiology Meeting, Redux

So I just got back from the fruit fly neurobiology meeting at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. It was a week filled with posters and talks, reunions and awkward introductions, wine and lobster, disco balls and a dance party reminiscent of your high school prom. After the last meeting two years ago I wrote all about what this quirky fly extravaganza is really like (posted here), … Continue reading

How Animals Sense Magnetism

Migrating birds and butterflies fly thousands of miles in the autumn to escape cold winter temperatures, then return home in the spring. Salmon swim hundreds of miles from the ocean through rivers until they reach the spawning ground where they were born. During World Wars I and II, pigeons were trained to deliver messages between distant military units or to communicate with spies behind enemy … Continue reading

Should We Cheer or Boo the 21st Century Cures Act?

Remember a few weeks ago when I argued that you should be vigilant and engaged in supporting scientific progress and condemning unscientific policies, regardless of your political leanings? Well, I’m holding myself to the same standard. So when word spread this week that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill called the 21st Century Cures Act that has huge implications for the biomedical … Continue reading

K99/R00 Reviews

So, I finally got the reviews for the K99/R00 grant application I submitted to the NIH in June. Since the K99 application guide that I wrote back then has turned out to be one of the most-read articles on my site, I wanted to write a follow-up post about my reviews for those who are interested. How the K99 is scored First, let’s discuss how the … Continue reading

Science Belongs to No Party

This blog is about science. This blog is not about politics. Science is not about politics. At least it’s not supposed to be. If you’ve ever received modern medical care, like taking antibiotics or having surgery or getting an x-ray or MRI or blood test, you’ve benefited from science. If you’ve ever talked on a phone or used a computer or flown on an airplane, … Continue reading

What Will It Take to Solve the Brain?

In my last post I wrote about attending a workshop where we debated whether it will ever be possible to “solve the brain”. I suggest you read that post before diving into this one. In this post I’ll summarize our discussions about what tools are needed in order to solve the brain and whether collecting more data is all it will take. To recap, our … Continue reading

Will We Ever Solve the Brain?

As I wrote in my last post, the Janelia workshop I recently attended included a series of debates designed to stimulate discussion of broad topics in neuroscience. These debates were thought-provoking and super fun, especially the part where my side crushed the opposition (kidding). So I wanted to write up a couple of posts about some of the issues we discussed that I found the … Continue reading

Janelia Workshop Recap

Last week I attended a Junior Scientist Workshop at the Janelia Research Campus on “Neural Circuits and Behavior”. When I applied for this workshop I had no idea what it was going to be like, but I assumed it would be basically like a normal conference except that only postdocs and students would be invited. Uhh, nope. It was nothing like any conference I’ve ever … Continue reading