5th Annual Neuroscience Graduate Program Awards Ceremony

by Erica Akhter
photos by Amielle Moreno

Spurred by good ol’ program spirit and the promise of free booze, Emory’s finest showed up dressed to the nines for the 2017 Neuroscience Awards Ceremony.

Leadership Award
Chris Sinon
SinonWinShot 2
GIN ex-president Chris Sinon has enthusiastically served the Emory Neuroscience community in almost every capacity imaginable. Aside from fearlessly hosting recruitment parties and successfully campaigning to increase the GIN budget in dicey economic times, Chris has continually worked behind the scenes to organize, support and rally the program to both improve our community and expand our connections with other programs in Laney and beyond.

University Service Award
Elyse Morin

Morin_win_2017Elyse Morin has excelled in service both within and outside of the scientific community. Elyse has taken an active role in science advocacy, meeting with GA representatives and joining her advisor, Mar Sanchez, to speak to the House Committee on Appropriations in DC. In addition, she has served as senior coordinator for the Emory RespectCon, led workshops bringing together Atlanta resources for rape survivors and spent more than 1,700 hours on call for the Rape Crisis Center.

Outreach Award
Desiree De Leon

DesireeWinShotThough her outreach efforts may sometimes put her in hot water with advisors Larry Young and Mar Sanchez, Desiree has made a huge impact on the community. As the graduate representative for the Atlanta Chapter of SfN, Desiree has built a multi-university outreach empire, growing outreach efforts by nearly 1,000 students while serving as chair of the Atlanta Brain Bee and coordinator of Brain Awareness month and the ATL Science Festival Booth.

Outstanding Early Achievement Award
Andrea Pack

Pack_win_2017Andrea Pack had the honor of being the sole nominee for this award. When you view her CV it’s not hard to see why. In her two years at Emory, Andrea has been placed on two training grants, received an NSF graduate research fellowship, presented at two international conferences and is currently preparing a first author manuscript. In addition, she is extremely active in scientific outreach, pioneering her own course to teach science within a local prison.

Outstanding Scientific Achievement Award
Elizabeth Pitts

Pitts and profElizabeth Pitts has presented at too many conferences to count and is an author on eight publications, including first authorship on a paper in Neuropsychopharmacology and a review in Neurobiology of Disease. While spanning two distinct model systems and actively teaching, Liz has remained active in the program and received multiple awards for her research, including the prestigious honor of presenting to prospective students during the Emory recruitment process.

Excellence in Teaching Award
Arielle Valdez

ArielleWinShotArielle Valdez has served as a teaching assistant for a variety of rigorous courses on a variety of topics: everything from human anatomy to the ethics of vegetarianism. Arielle has reached students far beyond the neuroscience realm in which most of us live. In each course she’s taught, both her instructors and students have recognized her excellence, so much so that she was awarded the GDBBS-wide TATTO Teaching award. Despite already hitting this ceiling of recognition, she plans to continue broadening her teaching experiences.

Excellence in Mentorship Award
Elizabeth Pitts

Pitts Acceptance1Liz Pitt’s excellence in mentorship is reflected through both the quality and quantity of her students. Liz directly mentored eight undergraduates while at Emory, guiding them through in depth, long-term research projects. Her students have graduated with highest honors and – even more remarkably – a literature based understanding of their field and the ability to think critically about it. Some might say that thanks to Liz, they’re now positioned to have their own outstanding scientific achievements.

GIN Faculty of the Year
Shannon Gourley

GourelyWinShotDr. Shannon Gourley, pictured here with her Elizabeth’s, was selected from a sea of wonderful mentors because of her passion and dedication for her students. Perhaps best said by one of the Elizabeth’s themselves,  “Her altruistic and well-organized use of her time” and “dedication to her students’ and colleagues’ success” make her an exemplary representative of what makes Emory neuroscience a wonderful place.

GIN Student Service Award
Byron Gardner

Byron Acceptance3Byron Gardner continually attends, assists, and invigorates GIN events. He is always willing to use his creative energies for the betterment of the program and he stands out in his ability to make prospective students want to join in the fun. Ironically he could not attend this ceremony, but his efforts to go above and beyond at almost everything else make him more than deserving of the award anyway.




2015 GDBBS Banquet Fashion Spread

By Amielle Moreno

2015 GDBBS Interior Panoramic – Version 2

On a rainy Thursday night, the brightest things in Atlanta were the women and men of Emory’s Graduate Division of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. I plucked the prettiest flowers from the bunch for this article to honor their stylishness.

Gina Alesi from Cancer Biology
Gina Alesi from Cancer Biology
Alicia Cutler from Biochemistry Cell and Developmental Biology (BCDB)
Alicia Cutler from Biochemistry Cell and Developmental Biology (BCDB)
Morgan Woody Winship Cancer Institute
Morgan Woody Winship Cancer Institute

The solid purple dress took center stage this year with multiple ladies donning this trending color. With many ways to wear it, this color is flattering on everyone, but who do you think wore it best?

Josh Lewis from BCDB
Josh Lewis from BCDB
Marko Bajic from Genetics and Molecular Biology
Marko Bajic from Genetics and Molecular Biology
R to L: Gary Longstreet from Program Administration, as well as Muhammad Anzar Abbas from Neuroscience and his lovely date
Gary Longstreet from Program Administration, as well as Muhammad Anzar Abbas from Neuroscience and his lovely date

In man’s fashion, the surest way to stand out in the sea of polo shirted lazy-lads, was easy: sports jacket and tie. Josh Lewis’ mix of jacket and plaid skinny tie set him apart from the crowd. Look out Chris Hardwick! Unfortunately, some people think fashion ends after your pants, such as Marko, who looked like the whole package until you notice his shoes. When asked about his ensemble he responded “#Marko #swag #swagco #yolo #yololifeforever #ijustputiton.” But Anzar Abbas gets extra flair points for his light brown tips. And yes, Gary Longstreet, people are going to think you’re a server if you dress in all black. “Black’s my favorite color,” he responded with aplomb.

Gina Lenzi  Molecular Systems and Pharmacology
Gina Lenzi Molecular Systems and Pharmacology
Madeline Price IMP Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis
Madeline Price IMP Immunology and Molecular Pathogenesis

The LBD is a fashion staple but Gina’s lacy number will stand the test of time. It’s versatile with long sleeves which keep it in rotation from fall to late winter. Meanwhile, Madeline pulled this little number out of the closet after getting into shape. Can you think of anything more rewarding than slipping into that dress after months of working out? Her classic pumps make her ready for any formal event, but one might say that her accessories are lacking while Gina’s gold accessories take her ensemble over the top.Who wore black better: Gina, Madeline or Gary?

Version 3

Rachel Cliburn from Neuroscience
Rachel Cliburn from Neuroscience
Gary Longstreet from Program Adminsitration, Dr. Weinshenker and Dr. Gretchen Neigh
Gary Longstreet from Program Adminsitration, Dr. Weinshenker and Dr. Gretchen Neigh

And then there were the red mavens. Rachel  not only had hands and toes in theme with her red dress from Paris, her glass slippers “make [her] feel like she can twinkle float.” Dr. Neigh gets a chance to wear this beautiful gown for the second time. I was shocked that it was an Ann Taylor because I’ve never seen anything this bright. That dress, much like these two ladies, stand out from the crowd when everybody else is wearing tan. Thanks for the photo bomb, Gary.

Jacob Billings from Neuroscience
Jacob Billings from Neuroscience
Lukas Hoffmann from Neuroscience
Lukas Hoffmann from Neuroscience

Both of these Neuroscience gentlemen received their neuron accessories, from their significant others. Lukas’s purple tie is from Bow-Tie For a Cause with all the profits from this gift benefiting Alzheimer’s research.

Julia Omotade from BCDB
Oh MY, Omotade! Julia Omotade from BCDB wins the best dressed award!

Black and White doesn’t get any better. In my humble opinion, Julia Omotade’s cocktail dress puts all others to shame and as the best dressed at the GDBBS Banquet.

Eye catching from across the room, Pernille Buelow claims she does "this with my hair everyday at lab."
Eye catching from across the room, Pernille Buelow from Neuroscience claims she does “this with my hair everyday at lab.”
What did they just hear that could create such polar reactions?
What did they just hear that could create such polar reactions?
Dr. Weinshenker was literally the last person to receive dinner.
Dr. Weinshenker was literally the last person to receive dinner.
Because it's alien eggs, this is the vegetarian option not the vegan option.
Because it’s alien eggs, this is the vegetarian option not the vegan option.
The food was much better in years past.
The food was much better in years past.
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Constance Harrell Shreckengost from Neuroscience receives the graduate Career Award
Lauren DePoy receives the Neuroscience Scholar of the Year Award
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A bowl?! I work for 13 years and all I get is a bowl with a dent in it?!?!
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Lukas Hoffmann from Neuroscience receives the Graduate Program in Biology Academic and Achievement Award
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My two bundles of joy!

Food Reviews – The Brick Store Pub

By Mallory Bowers

Originally published Spring 2012.

sulcus117The Brick Store was opened in 1997 by Dave Blanchard, Mike Gallagher and Tom Moore, three Athens natives looking to fill the Atlanta-area gastropub void. Fourteen years later, it is the #2 rated beer bar in the world according to Beer Advocate magazine and a Forbes Traveler top ten bar. And for good reason – the Brick Store has a Belgian bar upstairs and a large regular bar downstairs with 25 taps, 185 bottles, and the occasional cask tapping. The Brick Store has added to the empire within the last few years by constructing two cellars – one upstairs in the Belgian bar, and another downstairs in an old bank vault. The vintage program has taken years of planning and a substantial investment in rare and limited edition beers. This has inflated the pub’s beer list to 500 different offerings, with prices ranging from as little as $7 or $8 for a 12-ounce bottle of American craft beer up to $300 for a 6-liter bottle of Belgian ale. Although the pub offers an impressively large beer menu, don’t expect to find Budweiser or Coors, and certainly no “light” beer of any kind. If you plan to spend the better part of an evening here (or an afternoon celebrating an exam with a liquid lunch), you will need some sustenance, or at least need to engage your beer munchies later on. With no menu item exceeding $10, aside from Cornish game hen, no graduate student can feel too much guilt imbibing and dining at the Brick Store.

Although the menu has changed a bit recently, most of the crowd favorites have remained. If the shepherd’s daughter’s pie, fish and chips, or brat can’t please you, I will apologize in person (and then ask, what’s wrong with you?). Turkey burgers are notoriously dry – not so at the Brick Store. I like to side it with a field green salad: mesclun greens, roma tomatoes, sunflower seeds, yellow raisins & parmesan cheese, tossed with tahini green goddess dressing.  The house pastrami sandwich is as good as any Jewish deli’s and if you’d like something a little more out of the box, I recommend the cup o’ curr “ey” which comes in appetizer and entrée-sized portions. Beer and cheese tastings occur the 1st Monday of every month starting at 6 pm, five beers and five cheeses for $25. Interestingly, the owners of the Brick Store also own Leon’s just down the street. Brick Store neophytes can find nirvana at:

125 E. Court Square
Decatur, Georgia 30030
(404) 687-0990
Monday 11 am – 1 am
Tuesday-Saturday 11 am-2 am
Sunday 12 pm-1 am

Welcome to Atlanta, Recruits!

By Zack Johnson

Originally published Spring 2012.

sulcus116There’s a reason Atlanta gets consistently voted as a top city for young people to live in: there’s a ton to do here.  Staying sane as a graduate student almost requires getting out and exploring the city.  Although I’ve lived here only a couple of years, I’ve done my best to cover as many cool spots I can think of that Atlanta has to offer:

Little 5 Points is a funky neighborhood with a number of quirky spots.  Junkman’s Daughter is one of the most interesting stores imaginable- — a hybrid vintage clothing/costume/party/thrift shop where you’ll find everything from three-feet tall boots to themed furniture.  The Vortex is next door, with a giant skull entrance and a menu with some horrifying food items.  The “Double Bypass Burger” contains “two fried eggs, six slices of American cheese, and eight slices of bacon, all served between the two grilled cheese sandwiches” used in place of buns.  The Porter (try the goat cheese fritters), Brewhouse, and Corner Tavern are just some of the great places for beers in L5P, and if you’re in search of music check out Variety Playhouse.

Decatur has some excellent spots.  First, you need to visit Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market- it’s a 140,000 sq. ft. indoor market with super cheap, fresh food from all over the world.  Every time friends/family visit I show them this place.  Also eat and drink at Brick Store- it’s an English-style pub that was voted the #2 best beer bar on the PLANET by beeradvocate.com.  Twain’s is another great place.  In addition to some of its own home brews, it has pool, darts, foosball, shuffleboard, and more.  Downtown Decatur is also sprinkled with a bunch of interesting shops and it hosts a number of festivals throughout the year, including a book festival (this year Sept. 2-5), arts festival (late May) and a beer festival (Oct. 15).  Also, check out open mic nights at Eddie’s Attic (Mondays).  If you’re in search of breakfast, I’d recommend Thumbs Up Diner.  For coffee, Java Monkey.  For sushi, Sushi Ave (they have an awesome lunch special).  For more beer, try Thinking Man’s Tavern, Marlay House, and Leon’s.  For even more beer, try the Corner Pub or Taco Mac.  If you’ve made it this far, maybe call Decatur’s Best Taxi and get home.

sulcus115Virginia Highlands is a historic area is divided into seven “districts” of shops, restaurants, etc. each within walking distance of each other.  The oldest tavern in Atlanta, Atkins Park, has been in the Highlands since 1922 and is still a popular place.   .  Noche has awesome tapas.  At night, the Highlands is always buzzing.  Hand in Hand (my personal favorite) and Neighbor’s are next door to each other and both have nice patios for when the weather is  nice.    10 High has Metalsome Mondays with a live band playing behind those with the guts to do karaoke.

The Virginia Highlands flows into the Poncey Highlands, where you’ll find the 24/7 Majestic Diner and the Atlanta’s oldest theater, the Plaza, which shows indie films and recently hosted the up-and-coming film producer Tommy Wiseau (Youtube “The Room”).  Not far away is the notorious Clermont Lounge- proceed with caution.

Downtown:  Atlanta has four professional sports teams and you can usually find pretty good deals on game tickets through Emory.  You can also get tickets through Emory for some pretty cliché (but also cool) downtown attractions like the Georgia Aquarium (world’s largest), Coca-Cola Museum, and CNN tours. For music, the Tabernacle is one of many venues for great concerts.

Midtown is next to downtown and is probably the most trendy area in Atlanta.  It’s home of the Fox Theatre, Woodruff Arts Center, High Museum, Atlanta Botanical Garden, and much more.  The Shakespeare Tavern is an especially great spot – eat food and drink beer while you watch talented performances of Shakespeare’s works.  If it’s raining, go to Park Tavern for $1 beers – it’s right next to Piedmont, Atlanta’s second biggest park (behind Emory’s Lullwater).  Try Screen on the Green during the summer- they play great movies in the park.  Midtown’s nightlife is also especially lively, as it boasts more than half of Atlanta’s nightclubs; Opera, Cosmo Lava, and MJQ are some of my favorite places.  Check out the Laughing Skull for stand-up comedy, Front Page News for brunch (and for a build your own bloody mary bar), Ri Ra for an authentic Irish pub, Rita’s for Italian (Water) Ice, and Midtown Art Cinema for indie films.

If you’ve exhausted this list, fear not.  I’ve missed countless great places, and there’s still Inman Park, Old Fourth Ward, Cabbage Town, East Atlanta, Edgewood, Toco Hills, Buckhead, Grant Park, and dozens of other neighborhoods each with their own personality, food spots, entertainment, and of course, beer.

Delightful Downtown Decatur

By Laura Mariani

Originally published Winter 2010.

sulcus109The City of Decatur is home to many Emory grad students thanks to its proximity to campus and attractive local businesses. Atlanta’s next‐door neighbor offers lots to do on a student‐friendly budget. Many hot spots can be found within a single square mile centered on Downtown Decatur. Some of us live close enough to walk there, but the attractions described here are also accessible by car (pay lots and elusive street parking), MARTA (Decatur Station on the East/West line) or the free CCTMA Cliff shuttle bus from Emory (until 7 PM, weekdays only).


Brick Store Pub ‐ Rated one of the best beer bars in the country, the Brick Store specializes in Belgian styles but has something for every taste. Good luck finding a seat here on Friday or Saturday night, but it’s great for a beer lunch or weeknight casual dinner. They serve burgers and pretzels aplenty, as well as excellent salads when you want something lighter. Beers $4‐$8; sandwiches and entrees $7+.

Leon’s Full Service ‐ The Brick Store’s companion pub (same owners) opened just down the road in 2009. Slightly more upscale, but you can still wear your lab clothes. The typical pub fare gets a classy twist, and house cocktails feature fresh fruit juice and herbs. The outdoor bocce court offers additional entertainment. Beers $4.75‐$8; cocktails $8‐9; sandwiches and entrees $8‐$18.

The Marlay House (formerly The Grange) ‐ A classic Irish pub with a beer list that never disappoints (classics like Guinness are always available, with rotating taps featuring special craft brews). Great for catching the football (soccer) game or lounging all night on their breezy covered patio. Sandwiches and entrees $5.50 ‐ $11.

Neuroscience students hang out at Twain’s in Decatur. Photo by Matt Magnuson.
Neuroscience students hang out at Twain’s in Decatur. Photo by Matt Magnuson.

Twain’s Billiard and Tap ‐ This bar has plenty of space, perfect for large crowds of thirsty neuroscientists. They brew their own beer, which is affordable if not gourmet (drink specials Monday‐ Thursday). A few rotating guest taps and lots of bottled selections round out the bar. Twain’s also has 13 pool tables, 4 dart lanes, 2 shuffleboard tables, and some arcade games for friendly competition. Sandwiches and entrees $6‐$11.50.

Taco Mac ‐ With over 90 beers on tap, Taco Mac has something for everyone. Work your way through the entire beer list over time to win a prize and the respect of your peers, or just share a pitcher and some wings. Food is available, but mediocre.

The Thinking Man Tavern ‐ Down the road a piece on W. Howard Ave., The Thinking Man is a nerd’s paradise featuring antique microscopes, among other things, with a collection of board games behind the bar to keep you occupied. Pint Night on Wednesday (1/2 price draft beers) is a program favorite. The potato rounds are breathtaking. Draft beer $4‐$5, sandwiches and entrees $6‐$9.50.

The Corner Pub ‐ Southeast of downtown Decatur near Agnes Scott College, this pub is far enough off the beaten track to avoid huge weekend crowds. A wide variety of food is available, including lots of vegetarian‐friendly options. Draft beer $4‐$5, sandwiches and entrees $6‐$12.50.


Raging Burrito / Raging Taco ‐ Home of burritos the size of your head and pitchers of fine margaritas. Choices range from typical meat, beans and rice combos to blackened tilapia, pineapple jerk tofu, and teriyaki! Validated parking available in the adjacent lot, large patio for outdoor dining. Burritos $4.50 ‐ $8, frozen margarita pints occasionally on special for $4.95.

Taqueria del Sol ‐ The line is usually out the door for these amazing little mouthfuls of taco goodness. Don’t worry, they’ve got a system, and you won’t have to wait too long. Enjoy a few tacos with a side salad and a bottle of beer or a frosty margarita. Tacos $2.19, enchiladas $3.19, sides $1.89.

Figo ‐ Fresh pasta is made daily at this unpretentious little Italian place in East Decatur Station (near Agnes Scott College). Pick your favorite noodle and top it with the sauce of your choosing. A cute date spot for broke students – slurp spaghetti, Lady and the Tramp style. Wine $4.75‐$7 per glass; pasta with sauce $8‐$12; panini $8.

Sawicki’s ‐ A crunchy little organic grocer and butcher shop that also serves great sandwiches. Quality cold cuts with delicious veggies and condiments make for a low‐key treat at their communal dining table. Also a great place to splurge on grass‐fed beef or locally farmed eggs to bring home. Sandwiches $7‐$9.

Study Spots!

Java Monkey ‐ “The Decatur Caffeinator” serves coffee beverages, pastry, and beer/wine. This funky cafe also regularly features live music.

Dancing Goats ‐ This Washington‐based fancy coffee purveyor has an espresso bar on W. Ponce de Leon Ave. Open until 7 PM, they offer coffee, doughnuts, wifi, and hang‐out space.

Decatur Library ‐ The local branch of the DeKalb County Public Library offers a quiet space for reading when you’re sick of the libraries at Emory. They also have a decent selection of magazines for browsing, if you’re too cheap to subscribe. Open until 9 PM Monday‐Thursday, 6 PM on Friday‐Sunday.

Get off Your Butt!

The PATH ‐ One of the few car‐free stretches of pavement in sprawling metro Atlanta, the PATH runs along Howard Avenue/College Avenue south of Downtown Decatur. A haven for cyclists, runners, and dog‐walkers, it stretches all the way from Martin Luther King Center to Stone Mountain Park. Most of the 17‐mile PATH trail is green space, but a few miles run along the road (and, in this case, the train tracks as well).

Adair Park ‐ Located off of W. Ponce de Leon Avenue on Adair St. Your canine friends may enjoy a visit to the fenced dog run, and a playground is available for the young or young‐at‐heart.

CORE Body Decatur ‐ While Emory students have access to the university gym for free, group fitness classes are not included. Some yoga, spinning, and aerobics addicts may prefer to join a separate health club to get their fix. This local gym offers discounts if you sign up for a full year, and even lower rates if you sign up with a friend. Or stop by for a single class for $7.50.