Wed 10th May 2017

Neuroscience Young Investigator's Day Winners 2017

Congratulations to the following Graduate Student and Postdoc winners of the 2017 Young Inverstigator's Awards!

 Scroll down past the list for more information on our award winning Neuroscience members.

Graduate Students

Jonathan Grima – Jeff Rothstein’s lab

The Paul Ehrlich Research Award

Mutant Huntingtin Disrupts the Nuclear Pore Complex


Kai Liu – Seth Blackshaw’s lab

The Mette Strand Research Award

Lhx6-Expressing GABAergic Neurons of the Zona Incerta Promote Sleep


Shuohao Sun – Xinzhong Dong’s lab

The Alicia Showalter-Reynolds Research Award

Leaky Gate Model:  Intensity-Dependent Coding of Pain and Itch




Graham Diering, PhD -  lab of Richard Huganir

The Daniel Nathans Research Award

Homeostatic Scaling of Excitatory Synapses During Sleep


Sung-Eun (Sam) Kwon, PhD – lab of Daniel H. O’Connor

The Albert Lehninger Research Award

Cortical Circuits for Touch Perception

Kai Liu – Graduate Student, Seth Blackshaw’s lab.

"I obtained my PhD from Seth Blackshaw lab. During my thesis research, we identified a novel population of GABAergic neurons in the ventral zona incerta, that express the LIM homeodomain factor Lhx6 and play a central role in promoting sleep.  In mechanism, we further characterized how the neuronal circuitry involving zona incerta Lhx6 neurons functions to regulate sleep/wake cycle.

I obtained two B.S degrees from Peking university with a primary major in physics and a second degree in Electronics and Engineering. I studied and obtained a Master degree in Robotics at Institute of Automation Chinese Academy of Sciences. Besides my neuroscience Ph.D degree from Johns Hopkins school of medicine, I obtained a M.S.E in computer science specializing myself in machine learning at Johns Hopkins University whiting school of engineering. 

I am interested in researching on intelligence, both natural and artificial. The natural intelligence I studied from neuroscience can tell me how to improve artificial intelligence. Mutually, deep learning in artificial intelligence provides me a new perspective to think how brain works. My future career is trying to bridge neuroscience with deep learning, either designing brain-inspired AI or discovering the complete neuronal circuitry in the whole brain responsible for learning."


Samuel Kwon, Postdoc, Dan O'Connor's lab. 

I was born in South Korea, but have lived in many different parts of the world — New Zealand, Australia, Singapore and several different cities in the U.S. Because of this, my accent reflects a bit of all of these different places. 


The cerebral cortex plays a vital role in how we process and perceive sensory information. Using rodent somatosensory systems as a model, I found that neurons in sensory cortical areas contain perceptual information, and characterized how sensory information becomes progressively more perception-related across successive cortical areas. In my own lab starting in 2018, I will focus on how the neural activity in sensory cortical areas changes with learning and what mechanisms underlie such 'plasticity'.


Graham Diering, PhD -  Postdoc, lab of Richard Huganir

Graham Diering is from Vancouver, where he did his undergraduate and PhD at the University of British Columbia. Currently Graham is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab of Richard Huganir, studying how synapses in the brain are altered during sleep, allowing sleep to benefit cognitive functions.


Shuohao Sun, Graduate student in Dr. Xinzhong Dong's lab.

"I went to college in Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. My thesis work focused on how pain and itch are coded in the central nervous systems. It provides novel insights about how pain and itch can crosstalk with each other in the central nervous systems, which challenges the dogma in the field that these two sensations are coded as labeled lines. Accordingly, I proposed a “leaky gate” model to explain how a small subset of neurons filters strong pain signals while pass through weak pain signals and itch signals, which can better explain observations from human psychophysical studies."

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