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2012 Undergraduate Scholars

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2012 Undergraduate Scholars
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2012 Undergraduate Scholars
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William Bradshaw
University of Cambridge
Major: Biological Natural Sciences
Janelia Mentor: Marta Zlatic
Will performed behavioral screens on different lines of Drosophila larvae to help elucidate the interneurons involved in the larval pain response.

"The JUS program is a fantastic opportunity to do real, exciting research in a unique and ambitious institution. More than that, it is an opportunity for undergraduates to immerse themselves in scientific culture. Many of the most important lessons I’ve learned here have been about how to think about research – how to plan experiments, interrogate data, and approach collaboration with others. Janelia provides a fantastic environment in which to learn these lessons – friendly, supportive, and located in a beautiful setting. Everything is designed to foster interdisciplinary collaboration and encourage original and creative research. It is also better equipped than anything I’ve seen elsewhere."


Kris Cao
University of Cambridge
Major: Mathematics
Janelia Mentor: Michael Reiser
Kris worked on a computational modeling project investigating the reverse-phi perception in flies.

"Despite not having a biological background, I quickly felt at home at Janelia, and I was able to participate fully in Janelian life, from lunchtime journal clubs to seminars to lab meetings. The range of activities laid down by the program administrators also helped my integration into Janelia; a particular highlight was going to Washington DC for July 4th and seeing the fireworks. I would heartily recommend applying for the Janelia Undergraduate program to anyone, regardless of their scientific background."


Ryan Glynn
Vanderbilt University
Major: Neuroscience and Philosophy
Janelia Mentor: Nelson Spruston

Ryan developed a quantitative and rapid cell-based assay for cell-type-specific pharmacology optimization.
"The environment here at Janelia is incredibly conducive to research with passionate scientists, abundant resources, and a beautiful research campus.  In ten short weeks, I have learned a remarkable amount about scientific research from my personal lab experiences and interactions with others on campus.  I feel privileged to have spent the summer with my helpful mentors and motivated fellow students and would highly recommend this program to anyone with a strong interest in science."


Lea Goetz
University of Cambridge
Major: Neuroscience
Janelia Mentor: Anthony Leonardo
Lea Goetz developed a setup for functional mapping of flight muscle activity onto wing kinematics to understand how dragonflies steer to catch prey.

"What a great summer I had at Janelia! This place melds open-minded people from many different disciplines which creates an unprecedented atmosphere of pioneering spirit. Where else would I have had the opportunity to explore a topic that was new to both me and my supervisor? Working on my project taught me not only methodological skills, but I learned what it requires to turn curiosity into rigorous science. Living at Janelia allowed me to broaden my horizon outside the lab through attending seminars, talks and engaging in discussions, be it over a microscope or coffee. I greatly enjoyed the chance to work and live with extraordinary scientists."


Agnieszka Klawiter
University of Aberdeen
Major: Neuroscience with Psychology
Janelia Mentor: Eva Pastalkova
Effect of partial inactivation of the hippocampus (CA3 area) on episodic memory in behaving rats.

"I think Janelia is the best place for an aspiring scientists’ first plunge into the deep waters of science research. Being a part of this intense science community gave me an incredible motivation and determination to get engaged in research and never to stop but rather to start to ask questions - as this is where research starts. It’s been one of the most enjoyable yet challenging summers I’ve ever experienced worth every minute of the late nights and early mornings spent in the lab or watching the 4th of July fireworks in DC." 


Travis Law
Grinnell College
Major: Undeclared
Janelia Mentors: Davi Bock
Evaluation of automated segmentation methods for serial-section transmission electron microscopy (ssTEM) images of the mouse visual cortex as a vital first step for the collection and use of peta-scale volumes.

"My time at Janelia has been amazing experience. During my time here I've learned an enormous amount about not just Neuroscience, but also collaboration with others and how different fields such as Computer Science and Neuroscience can overlap. This experience has been invaluable to me as a chance to explore the intersection between Computer Science and Neuroscience, and to join an active and engaging lab. Janelia has been an amazing place this summer, and I am lucky to have been here."


Maksim Manakov
Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Major: Biophysics/Applied Physics and Math
Janelia Mentors: Alla Karpova
Manakov was trying to find the memory length of a rat fitting its behavioral data to a q-learning algorithm. His own experiments aimed to eliminate the reward cues for an animal, while still pushing it to be variable.

"Janelia is best described by Hermann Hesse in his last book "The glass bead game". It's an utopian scientific community where you are provided with everything you might need for doing your research. On the other hand you have vast freedom in your research provided both: by the variety of labs and by the atmosphere in labs themselves. In this situation you can't help to push your aspiration for discoveries and scientific commitment to its limits. Apart from obvious experience in Janelia you get unique knowledge about yourself. Eventually you learn who are you and what are you worth when you are put in an ideal environment and there's no more hinders and excuses.!"


Neeli Mishra
California Institute of Technology
Major: Bioengineering
Janelia Mentor: Gwyneth Card
Designed and characterized a device to look at escape behavior mediated by the mechanosensory system of drosophila.

"Being a part of Janelia's undergraduate program has given me the opportunity to work on challenging problems, with unrestricted access to tools, resources and great scientific minds that populate this unique community. In my time here, I have been able to collaborate with scientists in a wide range of fields, from biology to computer science. This has helped me broaden my perspectives on my project and neuroscience research as a whole. Apart from my time in lab, I have enjoyed attending lab meetings, journal clubs and talks, as they are eye-opening and informational. Spending time with other undergraduates was one of the other highlights of this program - coming from such diverse backgrounds, we bonded over our love of science, movies and music.

In short, I am grateful for being able to spend my summer at this incredible research center with supportive mentors and motivated fellow undergraduates."


Joachim Ott
ETH Zurich
Major: Biology
Janelia Mentor: Albert Cardona
Development of a segmentation tool for collaborative dense annotation of large serial-section electron microscopy datasets with an interface to a semi-automated reconstruction pipeline.

"The time here at Janelia Farm was amazing. I gained a lot of insight into research, not only by hands-on experience but also by all the interesting talks, discussions with peers and chats during lunch. Janelia’s collaborative and interdisciplinary atmosphere is of great value to any scientist by broadening one’s horizons as well as being a great source of new ideas and solutions. I would highly recommend the HHMI JUS program to any undergraduate."


Mark Pavlyukovskyy
Princeton University
Major: Molecular Biology
Janelia Mentor: Gwyneth Card
Identification of the micro-connectome of the Giant Fiber in Drosophila Melanogaster.

"Working with extremely curious and supportive people here in Janelia allowed me to have the most intellectually rewarding experience I have ever had from working in a science laboratory. I am glad that I was given the opportunity to work here and I believe that Janelia represents the ideal of what a science research campus should be like."


Pter Pchelko
Saint-Petersburg State Polytechnic University
Major: Computer Science
Janelia Mentor: Joshua Dudman and Alla Karpova
I am working on analyzing the correlation between mouse behavior and activity of the neurons in Substantia Nigra.

"My major is Computer Science, so I had no idea what I would do during the program until the first day, but extraordinary willingness to help, teach and explain of my mentor and lab mates gave me an opportunity to dive into the problems of neuroscience. I have highly appreciated this experience and would recommend this program to undergraduates of all majors."


Elena Perry
Yale University
Major: Biology
Janelia Mentor: Michael Reiser
Elena worked on a project optimizing a phototaxis assay for spectral preference in Drosophila.

"Living and working at Janelia this summer has been an amazing privilege. The level of independence I was trusted with when working on my project allowed me to learn and grow far more than I had anticipated. Furthermore, the incredible resources and sense of camaraderie here are really special. Outside of the lab, there were so many fascinating talks, seminars, and lunchtime conversations that informed and inspired me. I also have great memories of watching movies and baseball games, going camping and to concerts – both with the Undergraduate Scholars and with other Janelians. Overall, I couldn’t have asked for a better experience, and if I had to do it all over again, I would in a heartbeat."


Mikhail Proskurin
Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Major: Biophysics/Applied Physics and Math
Janelia Mentor: Alla Karpova
Investigation of task representation stability across neural ensembles in the medial prefrontal cortex of behaving rats using extracellular electrophysiological recordings.

"Herman Hesse described a fictional province of Castalia in his book The Glass Bead Game. This province is populated by intellectuals who are engaged in the study of music, mathematics and arts. Being here I have found that Janelia Farm is an implementation of the Castalia in reality. I enjoyed the time spent at Janelia: overcoming the difficulties in research, attending talks, playing Frisbee and just walking around. I am grateful to my mentor Alla Karpova for maternal care. I am happy that the Janelia Undergraduate Program has given me a chance to meet a lot of enthusiastic people who combine science and art together and expand the horizon of human knowledge."


Bradley Theilman
University of Cincinnati
Major: Bioengineering
Janelia Mentor: Dmitri Chklovskii
Bradley investigated the noise shaping of volatile currents by neural spike generation.

"I am so thankful that Janelia exists. It is an amazing environment. From the ground up,every consideration has been taken so that you can't help but come up with new ideas. My summer was amazing because I felt like I hopped on a bullet train of science: going to talks, conversing with other Janelians, and doing my summer research
exposed me to some of the most current methods and research questions in neuroscience. Additionally, the collaborative energy here is such that I found myself  combining ideas from everywhere you could imagine to answer tough questions. How valuable that is!

For a student interested in becoming a skilled researcher that comes up with amazing hypotheses and tests them with the most clever experiments, a summer spent with the scientists at Janelia is the best preparation."