A new symposium at The University of New Mexico will bring together students and researchers of neuroscience to look at the progress made and brainstorm about the future. Specification of Complex Behaviors will be held Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 30-31, in the Physics Astronomy and Interdisciplinary Science (PAÍS) building on the UNM campus.

The event is free of charge for all attendees and will be useful for senior undergraduates, post-baccalaureate students, graduate students, postdocs, and faculty who are interested in neuroscience. 

The conference is the brainchild of Mubarak Hussain Syed, assistant professor of Biology at UNM and head of the Syed Neural Diversity Lab, and his colleagues and co-organizers Drs. Katherine Nagel of the New York University School of Medicine and Josie Clowney from the University of Michigan.

Syed and his team in the Neural Diversity Lab investigate the genetic and molecular mechanics regulating neural diversity  ̶  from stem cells to neural circuits. The findings will help uncover the fundamental principles of nervous system development and potentially to understand and treat neurodevelopmental disorders such as epilepsy, schizophrenia, ADHD, and autism.

Syed defined ‘specification of complex behaviors’ as “behaviors regulated by neural circuits that are made up of different neuron types, which are made during development” and said conference attendees will discuss “what developmental programs in the neural stem cells regulate the formation of distinct classes of neurons, how they wire together and regulate distinct behaviors.”

neuroscience registration symposium
Registration link

The inaugural symposium will feature leaders and rising stars in the field of neuroscience who will discuss current knowledge and open questions in the field. Scientists interested in linking development to behavior will share their experience and opinions on the experimental approaches to link the two. The speakers are experts in developmental neuroscience, circuit development, behavior, and computational neuroscience. Various topics will cover the specification of neural circuits and behavior in fruit flies, zebrafish, and mice.

Confirmed speakers include Syed, Clowney, Nagel, and:

  • Chris Doe, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, director of the developmental biology program at University of Oregon
  • Professor Emeritus Jim Truman, University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories 
  • David Schoppik, assistant professor, Department of Neuroscience and Physiology, NYU Grossman School of Medicine 
  • Alex Kolodkin, deputy director of Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences and professor of Neuroscience, John Hopkins University  
  • Professor Emerita Lynn Riddiford, University of Washington Friday Harbor Laboratories
  • Minoru Koyama, assistant professor at Department of Cell & Systems Biology at University of Toronto
  • Elizabeth J. Hong, professor of Neuroscience and Chen Scholar, Caltech Division of Biology and Biological Engineering
  • Haluk Lacin, University of Missouri-Kansas City

“Thanks to the impressive speakers who are sponsoring their own trip to be here at UNM and meet and interact with our scientists and students. This is a rare opportunity for our students. This part of the Pueblo Brain Science program and the goal is to train the next generation of neuroscientists by providing them the opportunity to learn about neuroscience and network with the nationally recognized neuroscientists,” Syed said.

There is no charge to attendees, but they must register online.

“This topic is at the frontiers of neuroscience and we have leaders in the field with us. Enjoy this free event and learn more about how our brain develops and how our brain controls interesting behaviors such as sleep, navigation, and locomotion,” Syed urged interested students and faculty.

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