The Awards Committee reviewed 7 grad student nominations and 3 post-doc nominations for best paper award in Behavioral Neuroscience. Several outstanding papers were submitted this round, so it was a daunting task to identify the cream of the crop.
We would like to extend hearty congratulations to Megan Herting for best graduate student paper award! Megan is in Bonnie Nagel's lab and published an exciting paper in Neuroimage. Using fMRI, Megan found that there are atypical frontocerebellar connections in youth with a family history of alcoholism. These findings have high impact because they demonstrate that some of the neural abnormalities shown in adult alcoholics, which have previously been thought to be the consequence of alcohol abuse, may represent a premorbid risk-factor for developing an alcohol use disorder.
We would also like to congratulate Jon Raybuck, in Matt Lattal's lab, for winning best post-doc award! His paper was published in PLoS ONE. In Jon's short time as a post-doc, he has become the first to demonstrate an amygdala-independent mechanism for fear conditioning. It turns out that although amygdala inactivation impairs delayed and contextual fear conditioning (mechanisms that are extensively described), no one has ever ventured to ask whether the amygdala plays a role in trace fear conditioning. When Jon inactivated the amygdala, he found that it does not affect trace fear conditioning. This paper will change the current thinking about the neurobiology of learning and memory.
Megan and Jon will receive a $250 prize and a certificate that will be awarded before the Matarazzo lecture.