Tom's Secondment at TUM

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Our Zenith student Thomas Mullen just completed in October-November 2022 a short Secondment at the Ruben Portugues lab at the Technical University Munich (TUM)!

Last month I worked in the Portugues Lab where I applied image analysis techniques such as registration and network analysis methods on my experimental data. I had a fantastic time working alongside my Zenith peer Shuhong. We also participated at the NeuroTechMUC Hackathon in Munich, using OpenBCI EEG equipment to decode human motor output.

-Tom

Outreach: Zebrafish Academy

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Last week (26/10/22) I gave an introduction to Behaviour: What is Behaviour, How is it studied and How and Why in Zebrafish?

Eight A-Level Biology students were hosted on a 5-day work experience placement in the fish floor at UCL. Throughout the week they learned In situ Hybridisation, genotyping through PCR, and recorded some behaviour. In the Dreosti lab they were able to record and compare different aspects of social behaviour: shoaling and social preference at different developmental timepoints.

A rewarding experience that hopefully gave them a good overview of what science research looks like! We had lots of positive feedback and very creative end of the week presentations from the students.

-Alizée

Outreach: Fête de la science!

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Our Zenith student Sharbat participated in the "Fête de la science", an event all over France where thousands of scientifics gather to share their enthusiasm for science, technology and innovation with the public. Sharbat was part of the Fish Team of the Laboratoire Jean Perrin at the Sorbonne University and he talked about the similarities and differences between human and Zebrafish brain structure.

Explaining science to the people will always, always, be amazing and fruitful.

Vive les sciences, vive la vulgarisation scientifique !

-Sharbat

Zenith 3rd Training Workshop - Basic Imaging

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The third ZENITH bespoke workshop took place between 2-9 October 2022 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM). Through lectures the students learned the fundamentals of optics and microscopy, the use of different types of cameras and laser scanning systems. With the practicals, hands-on optics and microscope building exercises enabled students to develop an intuitive understanding of optical principles.

The one-week workshop was taught by the ZENITH faculty supported by teaching assistants from ZENITH labs. More info in our Training section and check some images in our Twitter and Instagram accounts!

Tanita's secondment at ICM

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Our student Tanita Tzotzolaki completed a 3.5-month secondment between May – August 2022 in Claire Wyart’s lab at ICM. The main goal was to perform a deep behavioural analysis of zebrafish genetic models of Parkinson’s disease. This involved characterising the behavioural defects of five genetic mutants of the disease using a high throughput set up to analyse free swimming and escape responses. While at ICM, Tanita had a chance to work closely with members of the Wyart lab, including Maha Dhanasekar and Feng Quan, whilst also spending more time with the Paris-based ZENITHers.

My time at ICM helped me evolve greatly on a professional, as well as a personal level. Learning to use a new set up and applying it to my project opened my eyes to the broad variety of techniques that can be applied to my project. I also found that my dedication to my work expanded greatly as I started collecting a large set of data to fit in and build the story of my PhD. Additionally, working with a group of people with different backgrounds really made me feel the interdisciplinary nature of the ZENITH consortium. I am really looking forward to returning to Claire’s lab to continue my research on the effects of Parkinson’s disease progression on zebrafish locomotion starting next year!

-Tanita

ZENITH @ FENS2022

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ZENITH was of course strongly represented at the FENS Forum 2022 in Paris, with several members present, fantastic talks and posters! Check out our Zenith Twitter account to see what we were up to at FENS! It was really an incredible and intense experience and a great exposure to the neuroscience community.

Outreach: Pint of Science!

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In May 2022, I was part of the Beautiful Mind UCL Team for this year’s Pint of Science events in London. A science outreach festival that brings research to the pubs.
We have been working since November, reaching out to speakers, booking a venue, advertising and finding fun activities for the day. This has been rewarded with great success: all 3 events sold out and fascinating talks !

We heard about the science behind extremism, discussed the role of social media in shaping teenage brains and learned about morality and dementia. The public was captivated and also very competitive when playing our ‘Guess the Fruit MRI’ ! Thanks to our outstanding speakers and great team of volunteers.

Alizée's Secondment in Paris

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Our Zenith student Alizée just completed in April 2022 a short Secondment at Filippo Del Bene's lab at the Institut de La Vision in Paris!

I did a short visit in Filippo Del Bene’s Lab to learn injections from the masters ! The goal was to gain confidence in the use of CRISPR/Cas9 mediated zebrafish Knock-In strategies. With great help from Elena Putti, I did daily injections, screening and went through the protocol to test the efficiency of my designed guides. Back at UCL, I want to setup my own injection routine in the lab and hopefully make transgenic lines with expression in the Preoptic Area or Caudal Hypothalamus.

-Alizée

ZENITH student retreat in Palermo

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The student retreat was an opportunity to create synergies amongst the ZENITH students and their projects and to develop creative solutions through scientific discussion. The students had the chance to discuss their progress and to share challenges, pitch ideas and propose solutions in an informal, comfortable manner.

It takes a village to raise a PhD student, they say, and my peers have indeed made this weekend of science extremely fulfiling. We learnt about each other's projects, discussed good coding practices, got new ideas for secondments, shared our emotions, & ate our fill!

-Sharbat

The student retreat created the space for candid discussion about the progress of our projects. Despite the broad range of topics covered by ZENITH, everyone was engaged, asked interesting questions, and offered insights and ideas. Every time we get the chance to meet, it’s great to see the development of the projects, but also everyone’s growth in confidence as a researcher. I’m looking forward to seeing the continued achievements of the students in the network!

-Verity

Scientific research is an adventure which can only go forward. But retreat is also a necessary component of this exciting journey. In Palermo, it was a wonderful opportunity not only to share results and ideas, but also to organize thoughts for the next step. After this retreat, I believe every one of us has confidence and clear plans to develop the project. Look forward to seeing it comes true!

-Shuhong

Outreach: "Zebrafish - colourful model organism"

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Our Zenith student Tahnee engaged in a fantastic outreach activity with a talk for children aged 7-14 years from the KinderCollege der Dualen Hochschule Baden-Württemberg, Karlsruhe, in Germany, and two Master students. The title of Tahnee's talk was "Zebrafische - Farbenprächtige Modellorganismen" (in english: Zebrafish - colourful model organism).

Well done Tahnee!