May 2014

After a successful thesis conference, we are wrapping up edits based on discussant comments and preparing our journal-sized manuscript for submission for publication. You can read our final thesis on our work page. It's been a blast!

Senior Thesis Conference: April 11

We defended our thesis before a public audience, then met with our discussants to review their comments. Our thanks go out to our discussants - Dr. Gregory Bissonette, Dr. Erica Glasper, Dr. Elizabeth Redcay, Dr. Joshua Singer, and Dr. Thomas Stalnaker - for giving us feedback on our thesis and to the entire Gemstone staff for organizing the event. You can find our presentation on our work page and a video of our presentation on YouTube.

April 2014

This month, we will be defending our thesis at the Gemstone Senior Thesis Conference at 5:30pm in Riggs Alumni Center in Ballroom B. Our 25-minute presentation will be followed by 20 minutes of questions and is open to everyone, no ticket or RSVP required. While we are defending our thesis in front of our committee in a private meeting starting at 6:15pm, we encourage you to visit other team's presentatoins then stay after for a reception at 7:15pm. You can find our current thesis draft on our works page in both Word document and pdf format.

March 2014

On track for thesis completion in 2 weeks, we are currently finishing the final round of edits on all sections in preparation for voice edits, formatting, and preparing the presentation during the rest of this month. We will be presenting at the Gemstone Senior Thesis Rehearsal on March 24th at 6:45pm in the Gemstone Suite and sending our final thesis to our committee on March 26th.

February 2014 (Our Last Semester!)

We will be submitting our manuscript for publication, finishing edits on all sections except discussion, and writing the discussion and appendices this month with a goal for thesis draft completion of March 12th.

December 2013-January 2014

This month, we will be finishing our manuscript to submit for publication and working on writing the fourth and fifth chapters of our thesis.

SfN Annual Meeting: November 9-13

We presented our results at the Society for Neuroscience's Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA on Wednesday, November 13th. Thanks to the Gemstone Honors Program for funding four of our seven team members who attended the conference to visit the thousands of posters and hear the dozens of talks from neuroscientists from all over the world. You can find our abstract on the SfN website and our poster on our work page.

November 2013

This month, we will be presenting a poster at the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting in San Deigo, CA on November 13th. Seven team members are attending the conference thanks to funding from Gemstone. With the literature review, methods, and results section of our manuscript near completion, we hope to finish a paper later this month that we can then turn into our full length thesis over the winter.

October 2013

We are wrapping up data analysis in order to finish our poster for the Society for Neuroscience conference by mid-October. We are also presenting papers every other week to wrap up our literature review.

September 2013

Our data collection is finished. This month, we will be completing data analysis, planning how to complete our thesis by the end of January, and working on an article for submission to a journal in November.

June - August 2013

Summer break! We will be spending the summer finish the last month of data collection and drafting chapters of our thesis.

May 2013

We will be wrapping up training our second round of rats, performing surgery, and starting neural recording data collection sessions this month. Our lit review and data analysis subteams have been hard at work drafting portions of the thesis, and in our last meetings of the semester we will be sharing our progress so that we can split up again to finish chapters of our thesis over the summer. On May 1st, we will be presenting our work at Undergraduate Research Day from 1:15pm-4:00pm in the Grand Ballroom of Stamp. Meanwhile, we are preparing to attend the Society for Neuroscience conference in November by submitting our abstract and applying for travel grants.

Matt's Tenure Party: April 12

Our mentor, Dr. Matthew Roesch, received tenure earlier this month. To celebrate, we threw him a surprise party during our mentor meeting, featuring pizza, drinks, homemade desserts, decorations, and a card with a Pearls before Swine comic included. Later that month, Matt also won the Gemstone Junior Class Mentor of the Year Award. Congratulations, Matt!

April 2013

This month, we are preparing to present our results yet again at Undergraduate Research Day while drafting chapters of our thesis. The data analysis subteam is continuing to find significant cell populations from the neural firing data while writing portions of the results chapter. The lab subteam is continuing to train our controls population while wrapping up the literature review chapter.

HHMI Poster Symposium: March 11

We presented our preliminary results at the HHMI Undergraduate Research Symposium. Faculty and students stopped by to hear about our project, followed by a lovely dinner and guest speaker. Thanks again to HHMI for funding our project and providing helpful resources for presenting our research! If you missed us at the symposium, you can see our poster on our work page.

March 2013

We have begun training our second set of rats on the stop-signal task to get additional control data. We have divided the team into a histology subgroup - to analyze the electrode paths through the dPL on our first set of rats - and a data analysis subgroup - to find and graph patterns in our behavioral and neurological data from our first set of rats. We will be presenting our preliminary results at the HHMI Symposium in the BRB Lobby on Monday, March 11th from 4pm to 7pm. Stop by our poster to see what we've accomplished so far!

February 2013

We have finished recordings, including an additional study of delay discounting. This month, we will be conducting histology to map the path of our electrodes through the cerebrum. Meanwhile, we will continue to cut cells from our recording data and will begin mapping action potentials to task events in Matlab.

January 2013

This month, we are finishing our stop-signal task recordings. We have retired a few rats from recordings and will continue to retire rats as they run out of "drive space", or depth for the electrode to be advanced. We have decided, based on our preliminary findings, not to continue with the second phase, but instead to focus on exploring as much neural recording and behavioral data as we can from our first set of rats. Check out our new timeline to see where we are going next.

December 2012

We are in the midst of recording neural data from our rats during the stop-signal task. Our surgery was successful, and we are recording from individual cells in the dorsal prelimbic cortex in most of our rats every day. We will be finishing our literature review and finishing a detailed outline of our thesis this month. As we record, we are also cutting cells with offline recording software and determining which cells encode which motion or inhibition. By the end of the month, we will be nearly done with recordings for this phase and be ready to move on to the next phase and histology.

Junior Colloquia: November 12

We presented our project thus far to a crowd of Gemstone students as well as the Gemstone staff and a few experts from several fields in BRB1101. We explained our methodology and results so far, including stop-signal task training and how the surgeries went. We got some good feedback on how to improve our presentation and some questions we'll need to address in the final paper. Our animation to explain the stop-signal task was a hit! Check out our presentation on our work page.

November 2012

Our rats have finished training and are now recovering from surgery to implant electrodes. We have begun preliminary data analysis and will be giving a presentation of our work so far at the Gemstone Junior Colloquium late this month. After a recovery period, we will begin single-unit recordings during stop-signal tasks on our control and nicotine rats.

October 2012

Our rats have been training for over a month and are ready for the stop-signal task. We are continuuing to draft the results and methodology sections of our thesis as we prepare for Junior Colloquium.

September 2012

Back to work! Over the summer, we bred control and nicotine mothers and produced several litters. Now, we have sixteen adolescent male rats currently in training. We are spending this month adapting them to the stop-signal task and drafting the results and methodology sections of our thesis.

May - August 2012

Summer break! We will be spending the summer doing training in the lab and starting the first round of trials.

April 2012

We have received IACUC approval to proceed with our experiments, and our project has earned a $4,000 grant from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute! Having finished our second round of literature review, we are now starting to draft the first three chapters of our thesis (Introduction, Literature Review, and Methodology), which we hope to complete by the end of August. Over the summer, the team members will also be training in the lab to learn how to perform surgeries, administer drugs, and run control rats on the stop-signal task.

Thesis Presentation: Pi Day

Our thesis proposal presentation went swimmingly! Seven of our team members presented our literature review and proposed experimental design while our experts enjoyed pecan, pumpkin, and apple pie. Thanks again to our experts Drs. Arenada & Redcay and Gemstone Directors Drs. Thomas & Wallace for their invaluable feedback. Check out our completed thesis proposal and presentation on our work page.

March 2012

This month, we will be presenting our final project proposal to Gemstone Program representatives and experts Dr. Ricardo Arenada and Dr. Elizabeth Redcay. After spring break, we will continue our literature review and begin outlining our thesis chapters. We have submitted our animal user approval proposal and will be revising it later this month if it is not initially accepted by the UMD IACUC.

February 2012

We are currently applying for IACUC approval and an HHMI grant. We are also revising our current thesis proposal and presentation in preparation for our first meeting with our committee of experts. Last month, we reviewed 22 new articles, and next month we will be summarizing our findings within our subteams and presenting them to the rest of the team.

January 2012

We have formed subteams in two dimensions: literature review (fetal nicotine, Adderall®, and clinical components teams) and spring deadlines (grants, IACUC, and electrode teams). Over winter break, we are finding and summarizing articles to expand upon the knowledge we gathered from our prelimiary literature review. Next month, we will be focusing on our thesis proposal, which will be revised by the electrode team, and our presentation, which will be revised by the grants team.

December 2011

We have submitted and presented our completed proposal draft successfully. This month, we will plan the future of our project, mapping out subteams and deadlines for winter break and early Spring 2012.

November 2011

After studying articles about ADHD pharmacology and animal models of ADHD, we have decided that we should do testing on a rat model of ADHD that has yet to be validated and that we should administer a drug. We considered spontaneous hypertensive rats (SHRs), but decided on fetal nicotine rats instead, since the validity of SHRs as a model of ADHD has already been thoroughly studied, and fetal nicotine rats are more applicable to environmental conditions that produce ADHD in humans. If the drug administration or animal model portions of our experiment fails, we should still be able to successfully produce novel results, as dPL recordings during the stop-signal task have yet to be studied.

October 2011

We have begun to draft our methodology paper, and are currently on narrowing down our research topic. We have decided to use the stop-signal task and have selected the dorsal prelimbic cortex (dPL) as our focus point based on neurophysiology papers presented during our mentor meetings which point to the dPL as controlling impulsive action, which is measured by the stop-signal task, and as an area whose human homolog malfunctions in ADHD patients. We plan to establish the novelty of our project and begin our proposal draft this month.

September 2011

Our first month as a team! We will be assigning team roles, setting up our Google and End Note accounts, and creating team norms. In our mentor meetings, we will be presenting journal articles individually, which will help us complete our summary of resources assignment. Next month, we will better establish our research question and hypothesis based on this preliminary literature review.