Campus & Community

Students and faculty attend Max Planck conference

Students and Dr. Chandra at Max Planck Conference
In between sessions at Max Planck’s Sunposium 2017 Neural Circuits Research Conference (from left): Paola Zamora, Elise Green, Dionne Bootz, Dr. Chandra(mohan), Dara Cameron and Rogelio Gonzalez

When hundreds of the world’s most esteemed neuroscience researchers came together last week at a conference sponsored by the Max Planck Florida Institute for Neuroscience, Palm Beach State College students and faculty were counted among the participants.

Eight students and two faculty members were invited to attend the biennial “Sunposium 2017 Neural Circuits Research Conference” Feb. 13-14 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in West Palm Beach. Students Dionne Bootz, Dara Cameron, Rogelio Gonzalez and Bradley Williamson were honored as MPFI Fellows, an all-expense-paid program designed to expose Florida undergraduate students to the field. MPFI also covered expenses for Dr. Claudia Neira, a Palm Beach State adjunct instructor in biological sciences. The group’s leader, Dr. Sankaranarayana Chandramohan—known as Dr. Chandra—was able to bring four additional students at a special discount: Michelle Girard, Elise Green, Laura Mulloy and Paola Zamora (FAU-PBSC).

Bradley Williamson and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier
Bradley Williamson and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier

“It gave me immense satisfaction to provide this opportunity to our PBSC students and peer-faculty to gain more insight and knowledge into some of the most recent neuroscience research findings,” said Chandra, who is a professor of anatomy and physiology and microbiology on the Lake Worth campus. “It was also a great honor to have been invited by MPFI and especially, to have four of our students attend as MPFI Fellows.”

The PBSC team reveled at being in the company of an international roster of neuroscientists that included 1987 Nobel Laureate Prof. Susumu Tonegawa and Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier, who developed CRISPR gene-editing technology.

However, participation was not limited to attending sessions. Palm Beach State MPFI fellow Bradley Williamson presented the team’s well-attended poster session titled “E-Book and 3-D Visual Anatomy to Teach Neuroscience: Brain, Neuron and Nerves,” which focused on the work of Dr. Chandra. Chandra’s e-books are free repositories of information designed to help all PBSC students in their education.

“This event greatly enhanced my education,” said Williamson. “It gave me a chance to meet and network with some of the leading authorities in my field of study. Perhaps one of the most memorable moments was when I was able to meet and talk with Dr. Emmanuelle Charpentier.”

Dr. Neira was equally thrilled to listen to these world-renowned scholars and researchers, but the real meaning for her was in the discussions sparked afterward.

Students, faculty at Max Planck conference
Discussing neuroscience during a session break, from left: Laura Mulloy, Paola Zamora, Elise Green, Dionne Bootz, Rogelio Gonzalez and Dr. Claudia Neira

“As an instructor, the most rewarding feeling for me came at the times we had breaks. This was the opportunity where the students and I engaged in further conversation about the research that we had just heard from these great minds. It was amazing to come out and discuss with the students the reasons why or why not,” said Neira.

“Conferences at this level provide an invaluable experience for our students and faculty,” Chandra added. “We look forward to more opportunities to engage with Max Planck Florida Institute.”





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