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The neuroscience community at UCLA is large and diverse. Due to the many sub-disciplines within the neuroscience graduate program, many students find themselves interacting primarily with the faculty and students directly related to their field. By providing a forum where students and faculty can come together and interact socially and scientifically, we hope to engender a more interactive and collaborative graduate school experience. Our hope is that this forum will provide additional opportunities for students to develop skills necessary to become successful scientists, facilitate graduate student involvement in broader neuroscience topics and contribute to a sense of community within the neurosciences.

The forum can be a powerful tool for graduate students by giving them a platform to practice public speaking and data presentation skills in front of a broad neuroscience audience. Grad students can practice for presentations such as their orals, mid-streams, defense, and posters, or, they can get feedback on possible dissertation ideas or puzzling data. Students can benefit by receiving feedback from a diverse audience which can provide a fresh perspective on their work as well as helping in the packaging of papers for publication in broad interest journals.

As student interests are diverse, the talks will cover a broad range of research topics and will represent the exciting, cutting edge science that UCLA labs are currently pursuing. Furthermore, the relaxed, collegial atmosphere may encourage students to feel comfortable talking about and becoming engaged in scientific topics outside of their primary field. Other members of the neuroscience community can also benefit from attendance as they will become informed of the active research of other labs at UCLA and play a part in promoting community within the discipline.

Importantly, the forum can provide an environment where faculty, students and members of the UCLA neuroscience community can get to know one another scientifically and personally. Since the forum incorporates a social after the talks, people can discuss science or just have some food and drink with pals. In addition to the social benefits, this type of gathering also has the potential to promote collaboration between labs and thereby build on the strength of scientific diversity that the neuroscience program at UCLA provides.

We have talked to many different people in developing this forum and think that a semi-regular gathering can lay the groundwork for a more cohesive neuroscience community here at UCLA. This forum can take advantage of the strength of our large neuroscience community and ultimately improve the overall quality of the program. We are excited about the forumís potential and potential future directions (such as having invited speakers etc.) but hope that you will contribute to the success of the forum by attending regularly and contributing ideas to help improve it.


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