Verity's Secondment at Cornell

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Our student Verity completed a Secondment in April 2022 in the Bass Lab at the Cornell University, a recently added new partner organisation in Zenith! Verity's project is focused on the vocal motor circuit of Danionella. The Bass Lab are the world leaders in the study of vocal motor circuits in fish. They mainly use midshipman as their model organism but have recently started working with Danionella dracula.

"The main goal of my secondment was to compare the vocalisations of the Danionella dracula at the Bass Lab with that of our Danioenella cerebrum. Using a high-speed video camera, I recorded the fish while they vocalised and was able to see the movement of the swim bladder during sound production. Although they are a closely related species with similar morphology, the structure of the sounds they produce are very different. Going forward, it will be interesting to see how this reflects the similarities and differences in their vocal-motor neural circuits."

Verity

Poster presentation at ED3C Scientific days

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Our Zenith student Gautam successfully presented his poster "Data-driven discovery of long timescale behavioral strategies during sensory evoked navigation" at L’école doctorale Cerveau, cognition, comportement (ED3C) (Brain, cognition, behaviour Doctoral School) Scientific days, in Paris. Lots of interest and interactions with other PhD students around Gautam's data. Well done!

Tahnee's Secondment at UCL

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Our student Tahnee completed a 2-month Secondment at the end of 2021/beginning of 2022 in the Rihel lab at UCL. Tahnee also had the opportunity to work in the Zenith partner lab of Isaac Bianco and to hang out with the London-based Zenith students (Giulia in the picture)!

"During my secondment at the Rihel lab at UCL I had the opportunity to investigate zebrafish sleep-wake behavior across multiple day-night cycles. The open and welcoming atmosphere of the “fish-floor” allowed me to also work with members of the Bianco and Wilson lab – learning about different aspects of zebrafish neuroscience."

Tahnee

Elena's Secondment at CRG

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Our student Elena Putti completed a 5-week Secondment in October/November 2021 in the lab of Manuel Irimia at CRG. The main goal was to investigate the genetic identity, connectivity and mechanism of action of intertectal commissural neurons (ITNs). With the help of the local student, Tahnee Mackensen, Elena learned how to perform FACS sorting and Single Cell RNA-sequencing to study the genetic identity of these neurons.

"While in Barcelona I was trying to learn how to perform single cell RNA sequencing. In order to do so, we first have to successfully sort our neurons of interest through FACS - Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting - which is what the picture represents. Tahnee was the one who taught me how to dissociate zebrafish larvae in order to sort the cells based on their fluorescence."

Elena

Zenith Supervisory Board meeting

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The Zenith Supervisory Board annual meeting was held online on 4 February 2022. Representatives of all beneficiaries discussed several aspects concerning the implementation of the project, research and administrative activities progress, difficulties and strategy. Particular attention was given to the planning of the upcoming training workshops and the secondments.

Student representatives also joined the meeting to provide feedback on any needs or issues that the ESRs may have experienced on the first period of their projects.

Thanks everyone for such a productive gathering!

Collaboration with ETN SmartNets

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Since October 2021, we have been collaborating with another European Training Network (ETN) - SmartNets - by organizing together the Zenith seminars. The SmartNets network brings together universities and partner organisations to understand network computations.This fantastic partnership enables us to enhance scientific knowledge-exchange between the young researchers and international renowned scientists in the field, and to have more diversity on the speakers - more oriented on modelling from the SmartNets side! The Seminar resources (schedules, abstracts, videos) are available on the Training section.

Zenith student teaches at ICTS

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Together with Claire Wyart and a collaborator, the Zenith student Gautam Sridhar gave a talk on finding rare, recurrent sequences in animal behaviour to describe characteristic actions at an International Centre for Theoretical Sciences (ICTS) school on quantitative biology hosted at Bangalore, India. Gautam’s part was focused on applications to larval zebrafish. The resources of the talk are available at the ICTS website.

Zenith 2nd Training Workshop - Genetics, Anatomy & Behaviour

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The second ZENITH bespoke workshop took place between 15-19 November 2021 at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown (CCU) in Lisbon. The training provided advanced, hands-on training in zebrafish, genetics and anatomy followed by hands-on behavioural experiments and data analysis.

The one-week workshop was taught by the ZENITH faculty and included both theoretical background and practical training supported by several teaching assistants from the different ZENITH labs. More info in our Training section and check some images in our Twitter and Instagram accounts!

Zenith writing and communication workshop

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ZENITH aims to reinforce transferable skills related to scientific communication. Our first soft skills training took place on the 17th September 2021 in a hybrid format between in person, at the ICM in Paris, and online. The workshop introduced the ZENITH students to aspects of written and oral communication and of scientific publications to help them communicate their research clearly and effectively. It was held by Niki Scaplehorn, Editorial Director at Nature Life Science Journals in collaboration with our Zenith PIs. More info in our Soft Skills section!

Zenith collab - Classifying seizures in zebrafish

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In July 2021, we came together at the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown to perform behavioural assays of zebrafish with a seizure-like phenotype. This ZENITH collaboration brought together not only us students but also the mutants and a suitable behavioural platform. Using high speed tracking cameras (700 frame/s) we were able to record over 100 freely swimming srrm3 eMIC(-/-) mutants and their wild-type siblings to classify seizures and bout sequences within.

It was a unique and fantastic experience - working closely with another scientist and learning complementary yet different approaches to of problem solving and discuss science! We hope to continue working closely in the future!

Tahnee & Tom