Brain and Behavior Initiative Hosts 3rd Annual Seed Grant Symposium

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FY19 Seed Grant Award teams discuss their projects during the reception and poster session

The University’s Brain and Behavior Initiative (BBI) hosted its 3rd Annual Seed Grant Symposium on November 19, 2019 in the Colony Ballroom of the Stamp Student Union. The evening began with presentations of results by the seven FY18 Seed Grant Award teams, and this was followed by a reception and poster session featuring the six FY19 Award teams. Over 100 researchers and students from nine of the University’s colleges and schools participated in the evening’s exciting presentations and stimulating discussions.

BBI’s mission is to inspire research that crosses conventional disciplinary boundaries, and the Seed Grant Program is the vehicle that makes this possible by promoting collaborations among faculty from research areas that are traditionally exclusive. Provost Mary Ann Rankin and Vice President for Research Laurie Locascio recently announced the request for proposals for the FY20 Seed Grant Program. Please see the BBI website for more details, including this year’s frequently asked questions.


Jack Blanchard presents results from an FY18 Seed Grant Award project


The projects funded by BBI in FY18 and FY19 are truly cross-disciplinary. These feature researchers from nine colleges and schools—the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (AGNR), the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation (MAPP), the College of Arts and Humanities (ARHU), the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS), the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences (CMNS), the College of Education (EDUC), the A. James Clark School of Engineering (ENGR), the College of Information Studies (iSchool), and the School of Public Health (SPHL)—as well as researchers from seven University of Maryland institutes or centers: the Applied Research Laboratory for Intelligence and Security [ARLIS], the Fischell Institute for Biomedical Devices [Fischell], the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies [UMIACS], the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics [IREAP], the Institute for Systems Research [ISR], the Maryland Institute for Applied Environmental Health [MIAEH], the Maryland NanoCenter, and the Maryland Neuroimaging Center [MNC].

This disciplinary diversity testifies to how BBI’s Seed Grant projects tackle a wide variety of challenges, including—to name only a few—aphasics’ struggles with word-finding, the relationship between social anxiety and substance abuse, social disinclinations toward agricultural water reuse, the physical properties of mosquitos’ attraction to humans, the intransigence of bystanders during cases of bullying in middle school and high school, the connections between meditation and gut health, the deleterious effects of building design on mental health and well-being, and the gap in knowledge about how the brain’s molecular and genetic structures affect human beings upon loss-of-function (e.g. in cases such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s diseases).


Shyrice Mitchell presents preliminary results from an FY19 Seed Grant project


BBI appreciates the continued support from the Provost and VPR as well as from ARHU, BSOS, CMNS, EDUC, ENGR, and SPHL. The coming year promises a number of visiting speakers and exciting events, particularly the continuation of the BBI-Kavli Distinguished Speaker Series. BBI will be hosting two illustrious faculty from the Yale School of Medicine: Dr. Nenad Sestan (host Colenso Speer) on Wednesday, April 8, 2020 and Dr. Marina Picciotto (host Anna Li) on Tuesday, November 17, 2020. Mark your calendars accordingly!

FY19 Seed Grant Awardees

Moving beyond the “Yuck Factor”: measuring brain responses to water reuse terms and determining if natural environmental images change responses
Rachel E. Rosenberg Goldstein and Edward Bernat

Nexus between sustainable buildings and human health: a neuroscience approach
Ming Hu and Edward Bernat

Neural representations of continuous speech and linguistic context in native and non-native listeners
Ellen Lau and Jonathan Simon

The impact of transcutaneous vagus nerve stimulation on therapy outcomes in aphasia
Kristin Slawson, Rochelle Newman, and Polly O'Rourke

The Impact of Race and Gender on Cyberbullying and Interventions among Middle School and High School Students
Rashawn Ray and Cixin Wang

Molecular connectomics of activity-dependent circadian circuit development
Colenso Speer, Najib El-Sayed, and Peter Nemes

FY18 Seed Grant Awardees

Precision Optogenetics: msec time resolution optical imaging and control of neuronal circuits
Behtash Babadi, Wolfgang Losert, and Monika Ritsch-Marte

Understanding the role of negative affect in psychosis using multimodal imaging and wearable sensors
Jack Blanchard, Alex Shackman, and Eun Kyoung Choe

A Multimodal Sensor Discovery Platform to Study the Molecular Events Underlying the Gut-Microbiome-Brain Axis
Reza Ghodssi, Bill Bentley, and Jens Herberholz

Central Nervous System Processing of Learned Vocal Communication Signals
Bill Idsardi, Jonathan Fritz, and Bob Dooling

Role of epigenetic mechanisms in striatum in neuronal encoding of decision-making during incubation of methamphetamine craving
Anna Li and Matt Roesch

Cognitive and Neural Precursors to Semantic Word Learning and Math Development
Richard Prather, DJ Bolger, Marine Carpuat, and Joe Dien

Adapting Brillouin microscopy to the study of synaptic transmission
Giuliano Scarcelli and Josh Singer


Published December 11, 2019