Vanderbilt Kennedy Center’s annual Science Day, held on Sept. 17, hosted 250 people, showcased more than 100 research posters and four data blitz presentations, and highlighted findings from the collaborative studies on sensory and multisensory contributions to autism of three VKC investigators.
2019 marks the 11th year of this annual day of science, which aims to promote “centeredness” by providing a scientific forum for the presentation of significant research findings and to encourage future research collaborations.
VKC director Jeffrey Neul, M.D., Ph.D., welcomed attendees to Science Day, pointing out the impressive breadth of interdisciplinary research happening at the VKC, and all of it aptly focused on fulfilling the mission of the VKC, to improve the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families.
Prizes for outstanding research posters
More than 100 posters were presented by undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, research faculty, and staff conducting research in labs or research programs of VKC members and investigators. Poster presenters (first authors on the posters) were eligible to compete for VKC travel awards to present at an upcoming scientific or professional conference of their choosing. Prizes were awarded among undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows for best research poster in three thematic areas.
Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- C. elegans neurons have functional dendritic spines—Andrea Cuentas Condori, graduate student, VKC advisor David Miller, Ph.D.
- Investigating the effects of photoperiod during sensitive periods in prenatal and postnatal development for the serotonin system—Justin Siemann, postdoctoral fellow, VKC advisor Doug McMahon, Ph.D.
Clinical, Behavioral, and Intervention Research
- Complex Syntax Production in 5-Year-Old Children with Specific Language Impairment and Typical Language Development—Ian Morton, graduate student, VKC advisor Melanie Schuele, Ph.D.
- Semantic and Phonological Neural Specialization Predicts Growth in Early Reading Skills—Brianna Yamasaki, postdoctoral fellow, VKC advisor James Booth, Ph.D.
- Evaluation of Unilateral Hearing Screening Failures—Emily Thompson, graduate student, VKC advisor Anne Marie Tharpe, Ph.D.
- Characterizing co-occurring conditions by age at diagnosis in autism spectrum disorders—Michelle Failla, postdoctoral fellow, VKC advisor Carissa Cascio, Ph.D.
Overall Undergraduate Award Winner
- Executive function and vocabulary disparity—Emma Hart, undergraduate student, VKC advisor Amy Booth, Ph.D.
Data Blitz Participation
This year, Science Day Committee members selected the top abstract in their respective themes and invited those presenters to share their research in 15 minutes with the Science Day audience.
Data Blitz Presenters included:
- Jin Wang, (Clinical/Behavioral/Intervention Research): “Neural representations of phonology in temporal cortex scaffold longitudinal reading gains in 5- to 7- year-old children” (PI: James Booth, Ph.D.)
- Tyler Perfitt, (Clinical/Molecular Neuroscience): “Autism and ID-Linked Synaptic Proteins Modulate Signaling to the Nucleus and Activity-Dependent Gene Expression” (PI: Roger Colbran, Ph.D.)
- Hernán González, (Systems Neuroscience): “Nucleus basalis MRI functional connectivity abnormalities in patients with temporal lobe epilepsy” (PI: Dario Englot, M.D., Ph.D.)
- Kunj Patel, (Undergraduate): “Significant Differences in Social Evaluative Stress Between Early Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Typical Development” (PI: Blythe Corbett, Ph.D.)
Click here to view the 2019 Science Day poster abstracts. Abstracts are in alphabetical order by presenter last name. To find a particular abstact, use the Ctrl+F feature on your computer to search for the presenter’s last name.
The keynote address,Translational Studies of Sensory Function in Autism: Emergent Properties of a Collaborative Model, was delivered by three VKC investigators who worked together on the signature research project of the VKC’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (IDDRC).
Mark Wallace, Ph.D., Louise B. McGavock Endowed Chair, professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences, Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, and Psychology, and Dean of the Vanderbilt University Graduate School, is principal investigator on the project. Also involved in the project and on site presenting at Science Day were Tiffany Woynaroski, Ph.D., assistant professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences, and Carissa Cascio, Ph.D., associate professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences.
The VKC Planning Committee was chaired by Kevin Ess, M.D., Ph.D.,Gerald M. Fenichel Chair in Neurology; associate professor of Pediatrics, Cell & Developmental Biology, and Neurology; director, Division of Pediatric Neurology. The Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience theme was led by Sachin Patel, M.D., Ph.D., James G. Blakemore Chair and associate professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences; associate professor of Molecular Physiology & Biophysics and Pharmacology. The Clinical, Behavioral, and Intervention Research theme was led by Tiffany Woynaroski, Ph.D., assistant professor of Hearing & Speech Sciences. The Systems Neuroscience theme was led by James Booth, Ph.D., Patricia & Rodes Hart Chair and Professor of Psychology & Human Development
Courtney Taylor is director of VKC Communications and Dissemination.