Neuroscience Seminar

Subgroup Meetings

The purpose of the Seminar study group or “subgroup” is two-fold. The first is to educate students in the group about the topic area and its place in current neuroscience research. To accomplish this, the study group should function as a graduate seminar, albeit of limited scope and duration. It is the responsibility of study group leader(s) to ensure that assigned papers are reviewed critically and that issues in the topic area are discussed in depth by the members of the group. This assumes that an agenda or format will be prepared for each meeting. Similarly, it assumes that students will take seriously their responsibility to read assigned papers and to participate in the discussion at each meeting. Performance in the subgroup will be graded by the faculty member(s) in charge of the group.

Faculty can assign a grade of "unsatisfactory" if they have spoken with the student about expectations and they feel as though the student's actions has earned them an "unsatisfactory" grade. The faculty member must report these grades to the Director, who will enter the grade for the student. If a student receives an "unsatisfactory" grade, that student must participate in another subgroup in addition to the program requirement in order to make up the grade. If the faculty member in charge of the additional subgroup decides that the student's work is "satisfactory" they must report that to the Director, who will change the grade for the student's previous subgroup to "satisfactory".

Seminar Presentations

The second aim of the study group is the preparation of lecture/discussions for the Neuroscience Seminar that will present a critical analysis of specific aspects of the topic area. Typically, each study group will prepare three lecture/discussions for presentation, and the group will invite and host an outside speaker who will deliver a complementary Neuroscience Lecture. In general, the Seminar presentations will be given by individual students in the group. Each Seminar presentation should be rehearsed, but not over rehearsed, in the group to establish style, content, and accuracy. Usually this can be accomplished in one practice session, or two at most. If additional sessions are necessary, they should not be scheduled during regular group meetings. Subgroup members are not required to attend any additional practice sessions.

All Neuroscience graduate students are expected to participate in two Seminar study groups during each of their first three years in the Program and one study group thereafter. In addition to attending the Seminar regularly, active participation involves making presentations in the Seminar. Included in these presentations is your thesis proposal and presentations based on your work in Seminar subgroups. The determination of student assignments for subgroup-related Seminar presentations is made by the Program Office on a rolling eligibility basis following a "last shall be first" sequence. All first-year students are excused from making a presentation in the Seminar during the first semester of their first year in the Program. However, first-year students may give a Seminar presentation during the second semester of the first-year, because they automatically become the most eligible students in the subgroup for making a Seminar presentation.

Upon completing a subgroup-related Seminar presentation, students are placed at the bottom of the eligibility list. From time to time, more than one student with the same eligibility elects the same subgroup. In those instances when there are more students with identical eligibility than there are available opportunities in the subgroup schedule for students to make a Seminar presentation, speaking assignments will be determined by chance, e.g., by drawing straws.

You are allowed one Seminar presentation waiver. The waiver will excuse you from a subgroup-related Seminar presentation, but it can be used only once at your discretion during the course of training. This waiver does not apply to the presentation of the thesis proposal.

Guest Lecturers

The outside speaker should be selected well before the anticipated lecture date. The speaker should be aware that he or she will deliver one public lecture and will visit informally with students and faculty. When a guest lecturer has been identified, please contact the Program office to coordinate a formal invitation, the guest’s travel and specific itinerary during the visit.
There are several opportunities for you to meet with invited speakers. Usually, a student lunch is held on the day of the lecture. These lunches are held around noon and give students a chance to meet with the speaker in an informal setting. An e-mail invitation to these lunches is sent to all students in the Program approximately 1-2 weeks before each lunch date. There is also time for you to talk with the speaker after the lecture.

Materials for Seminar Preparation and Presentations

A copy machine for photocopying articles related to Seminar presentations is available in the Program Office. PowerPoint presentations are the most popular medium to present information in the Seminar because they are easy to prepare and inexpensive. The Program has laptop computers (PC and Mac) and LCD projectors that can be checked out for presentations. Contact the Program Office to check out computers or the projector. The Digital Media Center located in the Biochemistry building also has audio/visual equipment for students to check out directly (