Corey Cusack presented a poster at the 2012 Federation of European Neuroscience (FENS) Conference in Barcelona, Spain, July 2012. She is one recipient out of fifteen U.S. graduate students this travel award is given to.
Corey Cusack, graduate student at UNC since August 2008. She joined the Neurobiology Curriculum in May 2009. NBIO asked her about her recent trip!
(NBIO)- What was the purpose of your conference in Barcelona?
(CC)- As a student member of the Society for Neuroscience, I was eligible to apply for a special travel award to attend this year’s FENS conference. I was so excited when I found out that I was chosen to receive one of the awards because I would not have been able to attend the conference (or take my first trip to Europe) without it! The Federation of European Neurosciences (FENS) Conference provides a unique opportunity to meet researchers from around the world and discuss recent advances in neuroscience, from basic pathways to mechanisms of disease and clinical research. The conference was a great networking opportunity, and the long poster sessions provided plenty of time for me to discuss my research with other scientists.
(NBIO)- What specifically did you do at the conference?
(CC)- My main purpose was to present a poster on my research, get useful feedback, and to network. I visited other posters and attended numerous lectures, including one on how playing video games (in moderation!) can improve learning and another on gastronomy and the brain. I also attended a “Jump the FENS” (get it?) party for conference attendees where there were several live bands and some pretty crazy dance moves.
(NBIO)- Did the training grant help make it possible for you to attend?
(CC)- While I am no longer on the Neuro Curriculum training grant, the grant made me more competitive for the travel award to Barcelona. The training grant paid for my visit to David Ginty’s lab at Johns Hopkins where I learned how to make and use microfluidic chambers during my second year of graduate school. That learning opportunity laid the foundation for my thesis project and the work I presented at FENS, so yes, the training grant definitely helped to make my participation in the conference possible.
(NBIO)- In your free time in Barcelona, what did you do? (sites, activities, etc)
(CC)- Barcelona is such a beautiful city! I saw Gaudi’s work at the La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell, which were both stunning places to visit. I went to the Olympic Village and the Arc de Triomf, watched the musical fountains at La Placa d’Espanya, walked along La Rambla, and drank the best sangria I have ever had in El Born. I also took a day trip to Montserrat, a monastery up in the mountains with spectacular views of Catalunya.
(NBIO)- What did you enjoy the most?
(CC)- The FOOD. Calamari, fresh fish and prawns, tons of vegetables, fresh-cut jamón de bellota (did you know that Barcelona is the ham capital of the world?), tapas, the bread, sangria, espresso, crème brulee….every meal was amazing. I especially loved the tomato bread, a local favorite. Take a warm, thick slice of fresh bread, rub a halved garlic clove all over the top, and then rub half of a juicy tomato on top of that. Sprinkle on a little salt and olive oil and enjoy with a glass of red wine! This recipe is my favorite souvenir from the trip.
(NBIO)- What is the most important thing you will take with you/you learned upon finishing the conference?
(CC)- The conference was a clear reminder to be open-minded about research and to not get so bogged down in my own field that I miss out on exciting findings in other areas of neuroscience. I am about to start my (hopefully) last year of graduate school, so I am very focused on my finishing my experiments and publishing papers in order to graduate next summer. I found it extremely refreshing to simply wander through poster sessions and attend lectures on subjects completely unfamiliar to me. I always enjoy a good story and learning something new, so having the opportunity to meet other scientists and hear about their research was fun and inspiring.