Emmanuel College continues to foster a culture of collaboration and academic excellence, recently showcased as two neuroscience students, Gavin Nolan ’24 and Anya Gemos ’24, presented their research at the largest annual neuroscience conference held in Washington, D.C. from November 11-15.
The event, the Society for Neuroscience 2023 annual meeting, drew a crowd of nearly 30,000 attendees from around the world to share their research and discover new ideas. Nolan, a neuroscience and biology double major, presented a poster titled “Environmental enrichment and isolation effects on anxiety-like and depression-like behavior and ethanol self-administration in male and female mice.” This research, conducted in the on-campus laboratory of Assistant Professor of Neuroscience Dr. Elizabeth Crofton, highlighted a collaborative effort involving two other Emmanuel students, Sophia Mirrione ’24, a biology major with a concentration in neuroscience, and Trinity Harrison ’26, a neuroscience major.
Nolan received support from the College, as well as the Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience (FUN) Travel Award, to attend the conference. Dr. Crofton is a member of FUN, an international organization supporting neuroscience research and education at the undergraduate level, and served as Nolan’s sponsor.
"I had a great time at the conference,” Nolan said. “What was most impactful for me was having the ability to network and share my research with so many different people with all different backgrounds in neuroscience. Some of the people I interacted with were experts on my research topic, which is alcohol use disorder, but others were completely new to it, so presenting at the conference was a great way to practice presenting to different audience members. It is really exciting to have had an opportunity to present at a conference like this so early in my career.”
Nolan is also an undergraduate intern in the Garner Lab at Harvard Medical School, which studies how memories affect the way we process multi-sensory information and build expectations.
Anya Gemos, a neuroscience major researching in the lab of Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience Dr. Melanie Leussis, presented findings on “Male mice's susceptibility to developmental stress in a two-hit paradigm: Effects on adult mood-related behavior, social behavior, and glucocorticoid receptor expression.” Several other Emmanuel students were also authors on the abstract and contributed to the research, namely Colleen Donahoe ’23, Surya Daniel ’23, Isabella Craus ’25, Zachary Palermo ’25, Nikol Lupu ’25 and Samuel Zdon ’23.
"Being a part of Dr. Melanie Leussis' research team has allowed me to not only expand my neuroscience research knowledge, but also advance my professional development,” Gemos said. “I've attended the Society for Neuroscience Conference for the past two years and presented my research in poster sessions. This allowed me to network and learn from some of the greatest neuroscientists in the world.”
In addition to support from the College, Gemos received the Nu Rho Psi Travel Award to attend the conference. Nu Rho Psi is the National Honor Society in Neuroscience, of which Emmanuel has a local chapter on campus. Gemos was inducted as a member last Spring and serves as the College chapter’s vice president. In addition to her work within Emmanuel’s School of Science & Health, Gemos works as research assistant for the Parkinson’s Disease Project in the Khurana Laboratory at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, focusing on investigating the impact of the gut micro biome on Parkinson’s symptoms.
Nolan’s and Gemos’s achievements underscore Emmanuel’s dedication to hands-on research experiences, allowing students to delve deeper into their disciplines and gain invaluable exposure. Such experiences build upon knowledge attained in the classroom, shape students’ intellectual potential and better prepare them for professional opportunities and graduate-level studies.