Psychology in Action’s Women in Brain Sciences and Technology Event

Psychology in Action’s Outreach Program co-hosted a very successful awareness event on UCLA campus last quarter with UCLA’s Cognitive Science Student Association (CSSA). Geared towards inspiring and educating undergraduate women who are looking to pursue degrees in STEM-related fields, the Women in Brain Science and Technology Event saw over 45 undergraduate attendees. In a field predominantly populated by males, the goal of the event was to showcase impressive female researchers in brain science and technology so as to inspire female undergraduates to consider careers in these fields.

Together with Cody Kommers of CSSA, PIA Outreach Coordinators Nicco Reggente and Jenna Cummings arranged for four female professors from both UCLA and UCSD to give 20-minute talks about both their current research and their paths towards professorship.  To bridge the gap, a panel of psychology graduate students (all of whom are also PIA Outreach volunteers), showcased their recent research endeavors. Refreshments and inspiration were plentiful as attendees tuned in to the engaging topics, outlined below.

Dr. Hongjing Lu – UCLA – Bootstrapping a Human Mind: Bayesian analogy with relational transformations. Dr. Lu spoke about the steps needed to take in order to build computational models that analyze information in a manner similar to the human mind.

Dr. Sarah Creel – UCSD – Children and adults hear the world differently. Filled with multimedia, Dr. Creel’s presentation provided a tangible account of the improvement in auditory discrimination throughout the aging process.

Dr. Kate Wassum – UCLA – Understanding the neurochemistry of reward and motivation. Dr. Wassum’s talk outlined her path from a determined undergraduate to a successful Principal Investigator. Her talk of dopamine transduction in rodents seemed to ignite a sense of motivation throughout the crowd.

Dr. Nanthia Suthana  – UCLA – Navigating Neuroscience. In a talk entitled with a clever pun, Dr. Suthana’s presentation mapped out her non-traditional route to professorship, while simultaneously displaying her research into memory and navigation. Hopefully her results, showing that Deep Brain Stimulation to the Entorhinal Cortex improves memory-based navigation performance, stimulated the attending minds.

The graduate research panel consisted of Jenna Cummings and Britt Ahlstrom, who spoke of their research involving the psychology of dieting and its similarity to addiction, and Tawny Tsang and Barbara Caplan, who showcased the way they are using novel methods to investigate the early diagnosis of autism.

Both the professors and graduate students provided ample availability for future questions from the audience regarding their research and advice towards making strides in the field of psychology research.