Few slides from my lecture at the Harvard tDCS/tACS course. Enjoy!
I am sure you are not surprised when I tell you that I feel strongly about teaching electric circuits to neurobiologists in training. It is my conviction that introducing basic electric circuits first as a symbolic language (resistor, capacitor, voltage source) with a simple syntax (Kirchhoff's two rules) is better than teaching electrophysiology sprinkled with electric circuit symbols and diagrams without proper introduction. Of course both approaches are of value. The challenge with starting with circuits and then applying them to electrophysiology is to convince students that they should spend a two hour lecture learning about circuits with little reference to biology or electrophysiology.
I am lucky to get the chance to try my approach in our first year neurobiology graduate course. My teaching is based on the "Electric Circuit" toolbox and the first two chapters of my book Network Neuroscience.
Here are the comments I got from the student feedback (unedited, emphasis is mine). It may have helped that there was a massive thunderstorm during that lecture (including a power outage) which nicely illustrated how electric nature is...
Background info: I refuse to use slides in lectures for graduate students. My teaching style is a friendly version of the Socratic method which focuses on making sure students stay engaged and understand the material. What I learn from the comments is that some students may need some more structure (perhaps handouts, lecture outlines etc). I will try to incorporate these suggestions into next years teaching. Overall, I feel it worked to start with an electrical engineering lecture. Your thoughts?
Many of us are in the middle of preparing our posters for the Society for Neuroscience meeting in San Diego (the Frohlich Lab is working on 16...). Here are my thoughts on how to prepare a poster that works:
I wish you good luck preparing your poster for whatever meeting you are attending. Please comment below with your own favorite / least favorite advice for poster presentations!
Yesterday I had the privilege to give a talk to our MD/PhD students - what a pleasure. After what was billed a "warm-up talk" (wow - now that makes me feel like a rockstar...), I gave a talk on rhythms in the brain and our ideas of target identification, engagement, and validation. However, I felt that the forum also warranted some more personal comments on my own trajectory.
So I tried something new. I interleaved my talk with slides about lessons I have learned and advice for this next generation of scientists (as it related to the story of how our own science emerged in the Frohlich Lab). I am posting my "13 Lessons" below for your to look at and to comment on. What is your advice to trainees?
I am honored an excited to see that people are genuinely happy that my book Network Neuroscience is published! Today, I will share with you the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions I get these days:
How does it feel?
Having the published book in my hand feels good!
How much money are you making with this book?
I do not know yet. Elsevier pays royalties once a year but you can expect the amount I receive to be very small since the royalties are a very small percentage of the book price. Also, there is no way I understand the inner workings of royalties for electronic access that Elsevier provides.
Will I need to buy the book when I enroll in your Network Neuroscience class?
Apparently, faculty can ask students to buy their book. I find this an ethical issue. So my answer is no. I will never ask anybody to buy a textbook - rather I encourage the use of the library and institutional online access which are both free to students.
Is it true that book has already sold out?
Now that would be amazing ;-) It seems that Amazon always has it on short supply but again Elsevier is not sharing with me any of their data about my book sales.
I found a mistake!
Me too.. This is heartbreaking but apparently normal. My apologies. The text went through dozens of reviews, including Frohlich Lab members, a science writer, and superb editors as Elsevier. Nevertheless, stuff always slip through. Please let me know what you find and once there are more than five (I hope never!) I will start publishing them here FYI. The good news is that Elsevier apparently can fix them on the fly since the book is printed in some form of "on demand".
Hope this helps - any other questions? Please comment below and I will reply!
This was an interesting week. I finally got all the copies of my book I ordered - everyone in the lab is getting a signed copy. It felt great to thank my lab members for their help with the book and to give them the final product!
I also spent some time on refining our social media strategy to ensure that we communicate with our peers and the public (equally important) what the lab is working on and how to get in touch with us. I am proud to say that we have several research projects which started by being approached by someone from the community with a question or idea!
Also, SfN preparations are at their max. We will have sixteen posters and most of them are ready! Feels so much better than the usual last minute rushes.
On the company side of things, I am happy to see that we are attracting our first customers - even before actual launch of our early access program at SfN! I am so curious to see how XCSITE 100 will get perceived - I recently had the chance to try different mobile monitoring technology / apps and I am very proud of how our product compares! I think people will love it!
Finally, we are starting up our BRAIN initiative grant on the mechanisms of tACS for modulating thalamo-cortical rhythms. More on this to follow.
Hope you have a great weekend and I am looking forward to keeping you in the loop next week.
Most academic research labs do not have any (official) structure. This makes sense since scientists do their best work when they are as unconstrained as possible and any sign of hierarchy decreases creativity and innovation. I get that. But when we started to have more than 20 lab members, I did find it essential to delegate certain mentoring/oversight role and to organize the lab.
So we decided to organize the lab into three teams: target identification (role of oscillations in behavior and psychiatric symptoms, systems and cognitive neuroscience), target engagement (how to brain activity patterns respond to stimulation, enhance temporal and spatial targeting, computational neuroscience, in vitro experiments), and target validation (clinical trials to see if our new brain stimulation paradigms actually help to change lives!). There is no "classical hierarchy" but each team has one postdoc who takes the role of the team facilitator. They help mentor team members and organize a weekly meeting of the team at which I am on purpose not present. Just because ideas will flow more freely and people will be less nervous when I am not there. Hate those facts but that is part of being a PI. I meet with the team facilitators every week to discuss what issues have come up and require my attention.
We have implemented this change few months ago and overall things are going really well. I have more time to focus on scientific and mentoring challenges and at the same time I have empowered the lab to be a team of awesome scientists even when I am not present! I will do my usual annual anonymous survey at the end of the year and will offer a follow up post on how this reorganization is perceived by the lab members.
Here is my slide on how the lab and our science is organized. The pictures are stock photos from shutterstock.com.
The last few months have been very exciting! First, my textbook Network Neuroscience is published! Second, we got our spin off company Pulvinar Neuro off the ground. Third, we published some exciting papers that I am very proud of!
If you would like to catch up, please come and meet me at SfN 2016 in San Diego. The Frohlich Lab is at booth #4320 (staffed by the Frohlich Lab - come and meet us!) and Pulvinar Neuro is at booth #3832 .
I am looking forward to seeing you there!