News Channel

COSWL Pop-Up Mentoring Program (PUMP) group won the LSA Service Award

 First presented in 2007, this award honors members of the LSA who have performed distinguished service to the Society.

The organizers of PUMP, working in collaboration with COSWL and conference sponsors in linguistics, have provided an invaluable service to linguists seeking short-term mentoring relationships. In just two years, PUMP has served 379 linguists at 15 conferences and Institutes. The volunteer organizers have donated many hours of time and effort to outreach and coordination, including matching mentors with mentees. Their contributions have provided invaluable support for those participating, and greatly helped to advance the LSA’s Mentoring Initiative.

The PUMP team is pictured below, clockwise from top left: Melissa Baese-Berk, Paola Cepeda, Hadas Kotek, Kristen Syrett, Jessica Rett, Ivona Kučerová.


 Some of you may have participated in PUMP as a mentor or mentee. I encourage you to look out for a PUMP event at an upcoming conference. The next ones up are NWAV, BUCLD, and the LSA Annual Meeting.

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Morgan Moyer has received an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Award (BCS-1918068) to fund her dissertation work!

The award, entitled "Linguistic cues and speaker goals in the question/answer exchange" is under the direction of PI Kristen Syrett, and Co-PI Morgan Moyer, and lasts from 9/1/2019 to 2/28/21.

Morgan and Dr. Syrett also recently published a WIREs Cognitive Science primer called "The semantics of questions," which introduces cognitive scientists to the interesting and complex issues inherent to this topic, and is the first official peer-reviewed article linked to Morgan's dissertation work. 

Michmizos receives VCRI Grant on Translating Biological to Artificial Intelligence

Konstantinos Michmizos wins the Rutgers Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Grant for the proposal entitled "Translating Biological to Artificial Intelligence." This is the second Award received within 6 months, in collaboration with leaders in experimental neuroscience: Cheryl Dreyfus, Zhiping Pang (Rutgers Medical School), and Bonnie Firestein (SAS Cell Biology and Neuroscience.) 

Prevailing over a century, the neuronal paradigm of studying the brain has left us with limitations in both our understanding of how the brain processes information to achieve biological intelligence (BI) and how such knowledge is translated into artificial intelligence (AI). Overturning our assumptions of how the brain functions and dysfunctions, the recent exploration of astrocytes, the most abundant yet long-neglected non-neuronal brain cells, has ignited a revolution in our fundamental understanding of BI.  

The $60,000 1-year Award will enable Konstantinos and his collaborators to achieve their goal, which is to harness and nurture the computational power of non-neuronal cells and unleash it into Brain-morphic Computing. The team is actively working on establishing the experimental and computational foundations to co-study how astrocytes work independently and cooperatively with the neuronal brain.

Click here for the original story on the CS website.

Victoria Abraira named 2019 PEW Scholar

Victoria Abraira, an assistant professor in Rutgers Cell Biology and Neuroscience was selected as a 2019 Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences by the Pew Charitable Trusts.

The Pew Scholars Program in the Biomedical Sciences provides funding to young investigators of outstanding promise in science relevant to the advancement of human health.

The program makes grants to selected academic institutions to support the independent research of outstanding individuals who are in their first few years of their appointment at the assistant professor level.

Abraira is only the fourth faculty member and first woman from Rutgers University to win this honor!

Congratulations to this Rutgers University—New Brunswick scholar whose research explores the neural circuits involved in processing and responding to touch.

"Although touch is an important part of our everyday lives and shapes how we move through the world and interact with others, it is the least studied of all the senses," Abraira said in her bio posted on Pew. "As a postdoctoral fellow, I discovered that most of the neurons in the skin that detect touch relay information to cells in the spinal cord, rather than communicating directly with the brain."

Using methods in molecular genetics coupled with advanced techniques for manipulating and monitoring the activity of individual neurons in awake mice, her team will stimulate or silence specific spinal circuits to determine how they encode tactile sensations and use this information to guide the animal’s behavior and its ability to coordinate movement.

The team will also explore, for the first time, how social touch is modulated by spinal circuits that differ from those that process the touch that allows us to grasp and distinguish objects.

"Our findings could lead to new treatments for disorders that impair social interactions, such as autism, or to improved therapies for spinal cord injury," she says.

Congratulations to Mary Rigdon for receiving a 300K NSF grant!

Congratulations to Mary Rigdon for receiving a 300K NSF grant from Decision, Risk, and Management Science at NSF, “Wanting to Control”, with Alessandra Cassar (USF)!

The research is a series of experiments grounded in evolutionary theory that investigates the role of incentives in gender differences in competitive preferences. Recent evidence suggests that women underperform relative to men when under competitive pressure and that women shy away from highly rewarding, yet risky, economic environments. Based on a cost/benefit analysis of specific strategic behaviors, we advance a new hypothesis: women and men are equally competitive, but motivated by different incentive mechanisms that run deep into both the genetic and cultural components at the root of human behavior.