Special Programmatic Features of the Neuroscience Graduate Program
In order to enhance the cohesiveness and visibility of the neuroscience program, a one-day Meharry-Vanderbilt Neuroscience Retreat is organized to focus on an emerging area of neuroscience. The central theme is developed by three to four faculty research presentations that move from molecules to neural systems to behavior or disease. A nationally recognized neuroscientist is invited to present a plenary lecture that relates to the central theme. The one-day program includes poster presentations by graduate students (second year and beyond) in the program, thus giving students an opportunity to get constructive input about their ongoing projects from the visiting as well as local scientists outside the program. Thus the Spring Retreat serves as a venue for highlighting students in the program and providing valuable contacts for future career opportunities. In addition to the educational benefits, this experience serves as a confidence builder for the students and provides time for informal scientific and social interactions. An added benefit of the retreat is that advice is sought from the invited speaker on improvements in the training program.
The Neuroscience Student Organization (NSO).
The NSO was established by graduate students in 1998, and membership includes any interested graduate student doing neuroscience-related work in any department or program at Meharry or Vanderbilt. The NSO is run by students and has its own infrastructure, including a president and advisory council. The NSO organizes a biweekly Summer Seminar Series to which only students are invited. Individual students make research presentations, providing an opportunity for them to discuss their research in a relaxed environment and get input from students of diverse backgrounds and interests. The NSO also coordinates an annual Spring Neuroscience Seminar with students selecting the topic and speaker, making travel and itinerary arrangements, and setting up and advertising the seminar. One of the goals of the Spring Neuroscience Seminar is to allow trainees to develop a professional network in the at-large community that will serve as a foundation for future professional endeavors. Finally, the NSO is instrumental in helping coordinate aspects of the annual Neuroscience Retreat and Brainstorm Brain Awareness Program, making this organization a dynamic and enriching component of the Neuroscience Graduate Program.