Conference Grant Report: Maryyam Mian ’20

Maryyam Mian ’20 was selected to receive a Conference Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. With this grant, Maryyam traveled to San Diego, CA to attend the Society for Neuroscience Meeting (SfN). You can read Maryyam’s reflection below, read past grantee reflections here, and visit the PCSE website to learn more about all of our grant programs.


This past November, I had the opportunity to attend the 2018 Society for Neuroscience Meeting (SfN) in San Diego. SfN is the largest neuroscience conference in the U.S. and attracts nearly 30,000 people from all over the world. With funding from the PCSE grant, I was fortunate enough to attend and present research that I helped conduct in Professor Robinson’s Motivation and Reward Lab.



The SfN conference is an annual, five day conference during which scientists gather to explore and discuss innovative neuroscience research. The conference runs all day with lectures from renowned scientists, research poster presentations, and demonstrations from leading companies. Along with 3 other members from the Robinson Laboratory, I had the chance to present some of the amazing research being conducted at Wesleyan.


The conference took place at the San Diego Convention Center, which was filled with thousands of people attending lectures, workshops, and poster presentations. At one side of the center, various scientific companies such as Thermo Fisher set up exhibits that showcased the technological advancements in the field of neuroscience. Each night would then conclude with social activities that allowed the attendees to network and discuss science in an informal setting.

On the first day, I got the chance to explore the convention center with my lab members. We visited exhibits set up by various graduate schools and biotech companies. One really cool demonstration allowed us to play the game “Fruit Ninja” using our eyes as opposed to our fingers! Afterwards, we visited posters that were either of interest to us or were related to the area of research we conduct in lab. For example, we got to talk to a scientist who happened to be an author of a research paper we have read in lab.

Our poster presentation was on the second day of the conference during which we presented to other scientists and students for about 4 hours. Our research focused on dissecting the role of the central amygdala in risky decision making in rats. To do so, we used the technique of optogenetics to stimulate neurons in the central amygdala. This was my first poster presentation outside of Wesleyan, and I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

I remember feeling both nervous and excited before the poster session, but to my surprise I had so much fun talking to people with varying science backgrounds about our research. We also received insightful feedback and suggestions for our project. Overall, attending SfN was an invaluable experience that has shaped me into a more confident student and researcher.

I’d like to thank the Patricelli Center for helping make this possible. I’d also like to thank Professor Robinson for his guidance, Carli Poisson (‘18) for her mentorship, and the rest of the Robinson Lab for making my research experience at Wesleyan so memorable thus far!