Archive for the 'Society for Neuroscience' category

SFN 2015: What are the socials for?

The SFN Annual Meeting is famous for the overwhelming barrage of science being fire-hosed at you. It is intimidating and can be impersonal.

Almost equally famous, particularly for the experienced hands, are the evening thematic socials. These are gatherings that may be focused on a scientific topic (Dopamine), University, lab (for the big ones), academic society (yes, the competition comes to SFN to troll for members) and/or organized by vendors (such as a journal/publisher).

Here is a list of the things I accomplished at one social this year:

-Talked with a colleague from whom I requested an emergency grant support letter just prior to the meeting. I explained the wheres/whys and thanked her profusely.

-Chatted with a colleague who is in semi-competition with one of our research domains. We worked some stuff out, talked a little about plans and I hope pre-empted what could have been bad feelings on one side or another.

-I met a junior scientist (that I didn't know except second hand) who had asked me for a letter of support for a grant application on the recommendation of a PO. This person told me more about the project and I was able to comment on a few things.

-Met a philanthropist who donated to a lab in which I have an interest. I kid you not.

-Chatted with a more-senior member of my field who is of pretty high stature in a subfield. I would not necessarily have gotten to know this investigator absent this particular SFN social over the past couple of years. This PI commented about my research directions in a thoughtful way that shows she actually knows me beyond social recognition.

-Met a postdoc who is nearing the job market in a subfield in which I have slightly better than average ear-tuning about job openings. I will be able to forward things that I hear about to this person now.

That's off the top of my head. I am sure there were several less-obviously work-related conversations that in fact have a work-related component to them.

So there are two points.

First, when you hear people talking about this or that fantastic party they attended at SFN, remember that these socials are there for work and career related purposes.

Second, the party that I am referring to was BANTER, organized by Scientopia's very own Dr Becca over the past five or six years. The organizing theme is not any of the usual one that you might think of as being specific to your career interests. It is based on the online science community, most especially the Twitter-based neuroscience community. It is not screened for any particular subdomain of neuroscience, including mine, and yet I had the above-mentioned interactions.

The implication* of this latter observation is that you can engage in useful work-related conversations at almost any SFN social, which means that it can be less forced. Go to the ones where you have the most interest, or an "in" or whatever. The key is to

*I think it also points to how firmly BANTER has become implanted on the SFN social map. Well done Dr Becca, well done.

41 responses so far

Aha! It was about data faking after all.

I wrote a prior post about the bizarre disappearance of an Editor in Chief of a journal I suspected of being predatory.

The bio lists Raphael Pinaud as "an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at Northwestern University, USA" so let's look at the Department listing for Core Faculty and Research Faculty. Nothing. Courtesy faculty? Emeritus?

Ok, weird. No sign of the guy. Google search seems to turn up validation that he was once there.

There was an accusation of data fraud in the comments to that post.

Turns out that this is probably correct. The Journal of Neuroscience has issued a retraction.

The Journal of Neuroscience has received a report from Northwestern University that describes substantial data misrepresentation in the article “Mechanistic Basis and Functional Roles of Long-Term Plasticity in Auditory Neurons Induced by a Brain-Generated Estrogen” by Liisa A. Tremere, Ryan F. Kovaleski, Kalping Burrows, Jin Kwon Jeong, and Raphael Pinaud, which appeared on pages 16478–16495 of the November 14, 2012 issue. Because the results cannot be considered reliable, J Neurosci is retracting the paper.

No mention of any of the authors throwing one or more of the other authors under the bus, I will note. It's pretty clear that Tremere and Pinaud are probably in on the fraud together, since they appear to be a couple and are the ones that skipped town (country?). I wonder what the other three authors have to say about this situation?

h/t: PhysioProf

35 responses so far

Neuroscientists: Start Electing Advocates

Mar 03 2015 Published by under Society for Neuroscience

NamasteIshIconThe following is a guest post from Namaste. Ish. Previously known as the bluebird of happiness, My T. Chondria. Stuff happened. The kitten walked away. Deal with it.

WANTED: Outspoken advocates for neuroscience research who is not afraid to ruffle a few feathers, call Congress Critters out on the current implosion of science funding and opportunities for trainees.

QUALIFICATIONS: Membership in the Society for Neuroscience.

JOB DESCRIPTION: The Society seeks “Leaders who best represent the interests and needs of the membership.”


With over 40,000 members, I look at the presidents of the SfN and wonder; do these people represent my interests and needs? I mean, do I have common struggles with folks in the National Academy, with HHMI status who have unfettered access to top tier journal editors and members of NIH Council? The answer is no, as I imagine it is for most of you.

Admittedly all of the people have made extraordinary contributions to neuroscience research, and have mentored countless outstanding scientists but this is not the job. The job is advocacy and I’m unimpressed.

I did a little experiment and searched Google News for 10 of the last presidents and came up with a rather unimpressive 40 events in which the lot of them had touted science (other than their own work) in any mainstream media outlet. These folks are putting out their semi annual newsletters and gaining ZERO traction in the real world. We can’t afford to preach to the choir any longer. We need people who will use a broad array of social media, PR and outreach tools to get the message across immediately.

I don’t know a single event around the SfN meeting in which the President or Counselors talk openly with the public, invite lawmakers to the meeting and chaperone them thru the day highlighting our biggest and most exciting stories as well as our most personal struggles as a community. We need these things to survive. We do not live in a culture that embraces science and education and where rational thought is valued. I know for sure we won’t get there by sending newsletters to ourselves. I would go so far as to argue that some of the past presidents are part of the problem we currently have in science. There are past SfN presidents in their late 70’s and beyond who still hold faculty appointments, are getting grants, holding onto research space, dollars and trainees when the market has a glut of young talent and few job vacancies.

NIH cannot petition Congress for money. So your society presidents and counselors need to be doing this and facilitating ways for us to do it as a group. We can no longer afford to be handing out these jobs as yet another feather in the caps of BSDs. Anyone who thinks we should need look no further than the ASBMB who ended up with Steve McKnight as a president who promptly used his column to tell the wee folks of science they are not worthy of performing NIH reviews or judging his work.

Nominate someone who will do better and represent you here. By Friday.

35 responses so far

The Journal of Neuroscience needs to explain the author ban

I agree with the following Twitter comment

Insofar as it calls for the Editorial Board of the Journal of Neuroscience to explain why it banned three authors from future submissions. As I said on the prior post, this step is unusual and seems on the face of it to be extreme.

I also said I could see justification for the decision to retract the paper. I say that also could stand some explanation, given the public defense and local University review decision.

5 responses so far

Is the J Neuro policy banning Supplemental Materials backfiring?

As you will recall, I was very happy when the Journal of Neuroscience decided to ban the inclusion of any Supplemental Materials in articles considered for publication. That move took place back in 2010.

Dr. Becca, however, made the following observation on a recent post:

I'm done submitting to J Neuro. The combination of endless experiment requests due to unlimited space and no supp info,

I find that to be a fascinating comment. It suggests that perhaps the J Neuro policy has been ineffectual, or even has backfired.

To be honest, I can't recall that I have noticed anything in a J Neuro article that I've read in the past few years that reminded me of this policy shift one way or the other.

How about you, Dear Reader? Noticed any changes that appear to be related to this banning of Supplemental Materials?

For that matter, has the banning of Supplemental Materials altered your perception of the science that is published in that journal?

44 responses so far

SFN 2014 Is Over

Nov 20 2014 Published by under Society for Neuroscience

I woke up two hours early today with brain obsessing over our next research priorities, thanks to the meeting. Working as intended then.

For some reason I didn't get around to visiting a single exhibitor other than NIH. First time for everything, right?

It is really great to see so many of the online people I've met through blogging and to see them succeeding with their science and careers.

The postdocs who have left our department in recent years for faculty jobs are kicking all kinds of science booty and that is nice to see.

Talk to Program, talk to Program, talk to Program.......

Catching up with the science homie(s) that you've known since postdoc or grad school is good for the soul. Dedicate one night for that.

Don't bad talk anyone in the hearing of relative strangers.....really, you can't know who likes and respects who and science is very small. I know 30,000 attendees makes you think it is large isn't.

Gossip about who is looking to find a new job....see above.

I ran into the AE who decided not to bother finding reviewers for our paper whilst at SfN and heroically, HEROICALLY people, managed not to demand immediate action.

A little bummed I missed the Backyard Brains folks this year...anybody see what shenanigans they are up to now?

You know when you go over to meet and butter up some PI, trainees? Don't worry, it's awkward from our end too.

3 responses so far

Thought of the Day

Nov 18 2014 Published by under Society for Neuroscience

It turns out that trolling someone else's lab from a meeting with the cool study you just thought of that THEY NEED TO GET ON RIGHT NOW is even better than doing it to your own lab.

4 responses so far

A simple plea for SfN 2014 attendees, particularly of the older, maler demographic

Nov 13 2014 Published by under Society for Neuroscience

Do NOT creep on junior female scientists.

Do NOT creep on female scientists.

Do NOT creep on ANYBODY at the Annual Meeting.

(Getting drunk is not an excuse, btw.)

Don't so much as say anything creepy on your Facebook or Twitter or out loud where anyone can hear you.

Let everyone get as much science out of the Meeting as they can without having to worry about what your nasty self is up to, eh?

23 responses so far

SFN 2014: Minisyposium on Bath Salts and Fake Weed / Spice

Nov 13 2014 Published by under Society for Neuroscience

There will be a minisymposium on synthetic drugs at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in Washington DC. You can find it on Tuesday, Nov 18, 2014, 1:30 PM - 4:00 PM in WCC Ballroom B.

571.Bath Salts, Spice, and Related Designer Drugs: The Science Behind the Headlines

Michael Baumann and Jenny Wiley have organized it, appropriately given their respective expertise with cathinones and cannabinoids, respectively.

The abstract reads:

Recently there has been an alarming increase in the nonmedical use of novel psychoactive substances known as “designer drugs.” Synthetic cathinones and synthetic cannabinoids are two of the most widely abused classes of designer drugs. This minisymposium presents the most up-to-date information about the molecular sites of action, pharmacokinetics and metabolism, and in vivo neurobiology of synthetic cathinones and cannabinoids.

Looks to be a can't-miss session for those of you who are interested in these drug classes.

One response so far

Are you presenting data at SFN 2014?

Nov 11 2014 Published by under Society for Neuroscience

I'll extend my usual no-promises offer.

If you either drop your presentation details in the comments here or email me (drugmnky at the google mail) I'll try to work it into my schedule.

If it is really cool (and I can understand it) I might even blog it.

Hope to catch up with old blog friends and meet a few new folks.

See y'all at BANTER.

13 responses so far

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