BY THE OHBM BLOG TEAM
As brain mappers start to log off their computers, comfortable in the knowledge that their OHBM 2018 abstract is finally submitted, we, at the OHBM Blog, offer a round-up of our most interesting and informative posts from 2017. This platter of self-citations should provide sustenance for those experiencing neuroscience hunger pangs throughout the holiday season. Each of our main contributors provides insight into their favourite posts - and if you feel you’d like to contribute as a guest blogger next year, let us know!
As 2017 comes to an end, I think of the numerous ways that OHBM has promoted diversity since that first meeting in Paris, 22 years ago. I realized this while interviewing Marsel Mesulam, a longstanding academic inspiration of mine and a founding member of OHBM. I found myself entranced by Marsel’s recap of the organization’s history. He touched on the themes of discovery, flexibility, and evolution in the field of human brain mapping, and the importance of taking a step back and drawing inspiration from the brilliant diversity that is OHBM – be it the various imaging modalities highlighted, the composition of OHBM’s membership, comprised of both trainee and established members, or multidisciplinary interactions such as the annual art and neuroscience exhibits. I truly believe that OHBM draws its strength from its inherent diversity, an ingredient necessary to advance the understanding of the organization of the human brain. I look forward to ushering in 2018 with the OHBM community.
This year I met interesting people and learned interesting things through writing the blog posts. My favourites are: (1) the story of the first human fMRI experiment at the MGH (Mark Cohen interview); (2) finding out about the future of data sharing from David Van Essen; (3) the chaotic but pseudo-stable nature of brain connectivity; and (4) how stimulating the lateral prefrontal cortex makes people comply more with social norms. As a PI, I find that all too often, PIs and trainees may get tunnel vision, being committed to certain research findings and to propagating certain theories. It is true that we all have to publish and propagate knowledge as researchers, but the reasons that we became researchers in the first place may be something different. From working on the OHBM blogs, I got a sense of history, of different perspectives, of how successful scientists can reinvent themselves and stay true to their passions. That experience was both humbling and energizing. As we look to the start of a new year, I ask you one question: “Sure, doing science can be tough, especially these days, but what would you rather be doing with your time and your brains?”
I had a lot of fun interviewing Alan Evans ahead of the annual OHBM meeting in Vancouver. However, my favorite post this year was not written by me, but by Agâh Karakuzu, a student of mine who wrote about his impressions as a first-timer at the OHBM Hackathon. The pleasure came from guiding Agâh through the labyrinthine process of introductions, interviews, standard operating procedures and gruelling team edits, only to see his efforts validated by the overwhelmingly positive response from the community. I feel like the hackathon post provided exactly what the OHBM open science SIG needs -- easy entry points for the uninitiated. I hope this post will motivate other OHBM trainees to volunteer their time and energy, be it in making science more open, or in spreading the word about the exciting initiatives coming from OHBM in 2018.
Whilst I was mainly involved in editing this year (including setting up the gruelling team edits), I did get the chance to interview a number of the OHBM execs - finding out about the challenges of working as treasurer and chair. But my personal favourite was interviewing the 2017 program chair Mike Greicius. His clinically-focused work covered such a wide breadth, from direct stimulation of the anterior cingulate in those with epilepsy to amyloid PET imaging in people with Alzheimer’s disease. Fleshing out the stories behind these papers and finding out his career path seemed to me to be exactly what we’re aiming for with our blog. Looking forward to our blogposts in 2018, you can expect more clinical neuroscience, open science, advice for early career researchers and coverage of brain mapping from around the globe.
My favorite experience of 2017 was surely the completion of my graduate studies and moving from the world of graduate student into a fully fledged PhD --- feels like I’m finally part of the cool kids club! A close second, though, was my OHBM Interview with Susan Bookheimer. Susan’s neuroimaging work at UCLA is fascinating and diverse, and her attitude and moral convictions are bold and impressive. It was refreshing to have a scientifically stimulating conversation with someone who shares such strong opinions on personal accomplishments, women in science, and the importance of life outside the PhD.
The end of this year marks my first year as a blog team member! Through the changing weathers, my work has changed colors, flourishing into an array of insightful posts on a variety of topics. It was fun liaising with the OHBM Student Postdoc SIG and writing for early career issues such as mentorship. But through all this, my favorite was to interview my postdoc advisor Lucina Uddin as an OHBM Young Investigator Awardee! It was enriching to see what makes a young investigator. I loved writing about things she is passionate about and sharing the pearls of wisdom that I, as her postdoc, have gleaned from her presence and mentorship. It was also inspirational to interview stalwarts such as Damien Fair, and see what a significant role mentorship has played in their careers. Personally, it was reassuring to know that I am surrounded by scientific experts who also value building mentee careers!
In addition to contributing to this blog, I am a member of the 2018 OHBM local organizing committee. These two roles nicely intersected as my postdocs (Csaba Orban and Valeria Kebets) and I put together a blog post introducing Singapore as the location of next year’s annual meeting of OHBM. I hope everyone is as excited as I am that OHBM will be held in Singapore. Look forward to seeing everyone here!
...and we’d like to thank all our contributors and interviewees, Sarabeth Fox for filming, and Randy Gollub, Niko Kriegeskorte, and especially Stephanie McGuire for their help in keeping the blog running!
Interested in suggesting a topic or writing a guest post for 2018? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org