Forum Core Objectives

The Neuroscience Program Research Forum – Core Objectives

The Neuroscience Program’s (NSP) Research Forum is a venue for students to develop their professional skills and to address other important topics in graduate training that will further enhance students’ careers. Forum is held weekly and is organized by the students for the students. Topics vary from year to year to address current needs; however, some components of Forum are consistently included. The objectives listed below comprise Forum’s core curriculum.

Over the course of his/her graduate training, a student should be able to:

  1. Present his/her research using a variety of media
  2. Develop a strategy for efficiently writing an effective grant application
  3. Develop a course’s curriculum and effective lesson plans to address his/her objectives,
  4. Secure his/her next position post-graduate school that is appropriate for his/her career goals.

Objective 1:

Students will gain experience in presenting their research using the two most typical forms of media, viz. posters and slideshow presentations. After each first-year student has completed his/her rotations, he/she will create a poster in the format of the Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting, and it will cover the rotation project that the student completed for his/her chosen dissertation advisor. The student will present the poster at the NSP Annual Retreat during the poster session. The student’s Neurobuddy along with two other students will evaluate the oral presentation of the poster. It is the Neurobuddy’s responsibility to recruit the remaining two students. Oral feedback on the student’s explanation will be given immediately. Each of the posters will be photographed and anonymously evaluated by the student body during the subsequent session of Forum on making effective posters; additionally, the presenting faculty member may use some of the particularly effective posters as exemplars.

Students will have two opportunities to give slideshow presentations during Forum for feedback. Each student will give a slideshow presentation at the end of his/her second year in an effort to prepare for the oral component of the NSP Comprehensive Exam. Anonymous, written feedback from the student body will be given at the end of the session. Each student will also give a slideshow presentation at the end of the fall semester of his/her fourth year in an effort to prepare for the public seminar of his/her dissertation. Anonymous, written feedback from the student body will also be given at the end of this session.

Objective 2:

Students learn how to write an effective grant application through a workshop held during the fall semester of Forum to prepare students for pre-doctoral grant applications. Each student must submit a grant for either the NIH NRSA or the NSF GRF (or both) by the end of his/her second year. Experience with this process is imperative for preparing for the standardized component of the NSP Comprehensive Exam; additionally, excellence in grantsmanship is a highly valued professional skill that Forum wishes to give every student.

Objective 3:

Students learn how to create a course and effective lesson plans through a workshop on teaching held at the beginning of the spring semester of Forum. Students in their first or second years participate as both instructors and learners. This workshop is held in order to prepare students for their NSP-required teaching experience. Students are encouraged to complete their teaching experience after the workshop during the spring semester of their second year. Completing it during the fall is discouraged, as this time should be devoted to grant writing.

Objective 4:

Students learn how to secure their next position post-graduate training as well as how to secure unique opportunities for early stage investigators over a series of “Exit Sessions.” Topics include finding the right career path, navigating future grant opportunities and identifying future mentors. During Forum, fourth and fifth year students will develop individual plans for their careers in order to ease the transition out of graduate school and to establish sound footing for the crucial years ahead as young scientists.