Young Investigator Awards

Young Investigator Awards


Masha Prager-KhoutorskyDr. Masha PRAGER-KHOUTORSKY, McGill University, Canada

Glenn Hatton Young Investigator Award Plenary Lecture

Dr. Masha Prager-Khoutorsky obtained a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel. She pursued postdoctoral studies in Cell and Molecular Biology at the Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel, and then at McGill University, Canada, where she worked with Dr. Charles Bourque investigating the role of cytoskeleton in osmosensing in magnocellular neurosecretory cells. In 2017, Masha was recruited by the Physiology Department at McGill as an Assistant Professor, where she continues studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying detection of plasma osmolality and sodium by magnocellular vasopressin and oxytocin neurons, and their role in physiological and pathological conditions.


SBN WC Young Award

Ashlyn earned her undergraduate degree from Brescia University College in London, Ontario where she conducted her thesis research on sex differences in emotional memory with Dr. Jennifer Sutton. Following her undergraduate training, she moved to the University of Toronto where she worked with Dr. Ashley Monks on the role of neural and non-neural androgen receptors in male-typical socio-sexual behaviors. Using transgenic mouse models, Ashlyn’s work established that an increase in global androgen receptors (AR) influences neural sex differences and sexually differentiated behaviors analogous to loss of AR function. Based on her work in mouse models of sexual differentiation, Ashlyn spearheaded a collaboration with Dr. Doug VanderLaan at University of Toronto to test hypotheses on sexual orientation in humans that emerged from her mouse work. Following her PhD, she moved to Michigan State University to work with Dr. Cynthia Jordan and Dr. Marc Breedlove. For her postdoctoral work, Ashlyn is examining the role of the accessory olfactory system and the Trpc2 gene in sexual differentiation while she continues her translational work on sexual orientation in humans.

Dr. Maggie MOHR, University of California, USA

SBN Young Investigator Award

Margaret A. Mohr received her BA from Hope College in 2009, where she studied the role of galanin-like peptide in the onset of puberty of male and female rats.  She then entered into the Neuroscience Program at Michigan State University, where she joined the laboratory of Dr. Cheryl Sisk.  Her doctoral dissertation research focused on pubertal addition of neurons and glia to sexually dimorphic brain structures and how this cell birth relates to adult reproductive function, and was awarded her Ph.D. for this work in 2015.  Currently, she is a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Paul Micevych at University of California Los Angeles, where she is studying the development of estrogen signaling in newborn hypothalamic astrocytes. 

Dr. Kristina SMILEY, University of Otago, New Zealand

SBN Young Investigator Award

Kristina O. Smiley received a Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2017 under the advisement of Dr. Elizabeth Adkins-Regan. Her doctoral dissertation research was on the role of the hormone prolactin and parental care behavior in the biparental zebra finch. During her graduate studies, she was an American Association of University Women Dissertation fellow and a Graduate Women in Science Vessa Notchev Research Fellow. While her primary research focus is the neuroendocrine basis of parental care, she maintains a strong interest in the role of hormones in social behavior generally, through an evolutionary and comparative perspective. She is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Otago, working under Dr. Dave Grattan at the Centre for Neuroendocrinology. There she is studying on the role of prolactin in modulating the neural circuitry underlying maternal and paternal care in rodents.

Dr. Joanna SPENCER-SEGAL, University of Michigan, USA

SBN Young Investigator Award

Joanna Spencer-Segal, MD, PhD, is a clinical lecturer in Internal Medicine and research investigator in the Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience Institute at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Dr. Spencer-Segal obtained her Ph.D. from the Rockefeller University in 2009, in the laboratory of Neuroendocrinology headed by Dr. Bruce McEwen, and her MD from Weill Cornell Medical College in 2011. Her Ph.D. thesis focused on estrogen modulation of hippocampal synaptic plasticity in the mouse. Dr. Spencer-Segal then moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan to pursue clinical training in internal medicine and endocrinology, and a research fellowship with Huda Akil. Her postdoctoral work focuses on the neuroendocrine stress response during critical illness, and its relationship to psychiatric morbidity in survivors. For this work, she received the Anuradna Rao Memorial Award from Neuron and a NARSAD Young Investigator grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation.

                                                Dr. Sophie STECULORUM, Max Planck Institute for Research Group of Neurocircuit, Germany

SNE Young Investigator Award

Sophie Steculorum completed a Ph.D. in Neurophysiology from the University of Lille (France) in 2011 under the supervision of Dr. Sebastien Bouret. She carried out her Ph.D. research between two laboratories: the INSERM-laboratory “Development and Plasticity of the Neuroendocrine Brain” in Lille and the Neuroscience Program of the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Her Ph.D. work focused on the development of neuronal networks governing feeding behaviour and glycemic regulation. In 2012, she joined the laboratory of Professor Jens Brüning as a postdoctoral fellow. Her postdoctoral work intended to further decipher the neuroanatomical basis of neuronal circuitries controlling energy and glucose homeostasis. Further, Sophie was keen on identifying novel regulators of the central control of feeding and peripheral systemic insulin sensitivity. In 2017, Sophie obtained an independent Max Planck Group Leader position at the Max Planck Institute for Metabolism Research in Cologne (Germany) where she is currently leading the group “Neurocircuit Wiring and Function”. Sophie is also a Principal Investigator at the Cologne Cluster of Excellence of Cellular Stress Responses in Aging-Associated Diseases (CECAD). The Steculorum Lab seeks at further defining the architecture and the functional principles of neuronal-based circuits controlling energy and glucose homeostasis from embryo to adult.

Dr. Rosemary BROWN, University of Otago, New Zealand

BSN Mick Harbuz Young Investigator Award Lecture

Rosie Brown completed her PhD in Anatomy and Physiology at the University of Otago in Dunedin (New Zealand) in 2010 under the supervision of Professor David Grattan and Professor Allan Herbision. Her work has focused on the diverse actions of prolactin in the brain, including how prolactin is transported into the brain, the role of prolactin in regulating fertility, and the role of prolactin in the postpartum expression of maternal behaviour. She is currently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Neuroendocrinology (University of Otago), working with Professor Dave Grattan, and she has obtained funding to continue her work into understanding how prolactin regulates maternal behaviour.

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