“Sense to Synapse” Draws an Interdisciplinary Crowd

The BPS-supported “Sense to Synapse” networking event, which took place on April 11 at Columbia University in New York City, brought together scientists working on the molecular and biophysical mechanisms of perception. Attendees included students, postdocs, and faculty from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut, as well as editors of scientific journals.

Speaker Claude Desplan, New York University, answers questions after his talk.

Speaker Claude Desplan, New York University, answers questions after his talk.

The topic of the event – molecular and biophysical mechanisms of perception – was expanded from last year’s topic (biophysical mechanisms only) to encompass the growing number of scientists working on sensory systems. As we slowly answer the main questions regarding the mechanisms of perception, the problem of how different senses work together so we can perceive our surroundings remains open. This even has connected and will continue to connect scientists working on different sensory modalities and help establish collaborations.

Many of our participants enjoyed the smaller size of this meeting – though the group was smaller, it was concentrated with scientists interested in similar questions, but using different methods to find answers. The speakers and audience members had diverse backgrounds, from biologists to mathematicians, which provided a unique and defining quality to the meeting.

This meeting was a great place to learn about how different senses work on a molecular as

Robert LaMotte, Yale University and Ellen Lumpkin, Columbia University, discussing touch and itch during a coffee break.

Robert LaMotte, Yale University and Ellen Lumpkin, Columbia University, discussing touch and itch during a coffee break.

well as a systems level. Both the keynote and short talk speakers were excellent, offering something for everyone to learn from their covering research performed in multiple model organisms, from nematodes to primates.

We are already preparing for Sense to Synapse 2014 – recruiting new organizers and sponsors! This meeting is on its way to becoming a very important part of scientific tradition in the NY-tristate area, and I’m looking forward to next year’s event!

Adema Ribic, Yale University

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