Interdisciplinary Neuroscience Seminars by PhD students to Incentivize Research Exchange

fluorescently labeled
Image: Bagnall lab

INSPIRE is a prestigious seminar series sponsored by the Department of Neuroscience at Washington University School of Medicine, devoted to advancing research excellence in the early stages of a scientist’s career. Senior graduate students are brought to St. Louis to present their thesis work and expand their scientific network at WashU. INSPIRE participants engage with researchers at Washington University over two days in person or virtually, including:

Being selected as an INSPIRE speaker is an exciting opportunity for graduate students to share their research with the Washington University neuroscience community, to receive feedback, to explore postdoctoral opportunities and to form professional and intellectual relationships with peers, mentors and future collaborators. We at Washington University benefit from learning about inspiring research done by talented young scientists from around the world. The Department of Neuroscience covers the costs of travel and accommodation.

The 2021–2022 seminar schedule for INSPIRE speakers

All talks are held at 12:00 p.m. in Room 928, McDonnell Medical Sciences Building.

Virtual attendees can request the Zoom meeting link by emailing

Download the 2021-2022 seminar flyer (PDF) >>

October 19, 2021

Shijia Liu
Integrative control of breathing and pain by parabrachial opioidergic circuits

Neurobiology, University of California, San Diego
Graduate advisor: Sung Han, PhD, Salk Institute

Hosted by: Martha Bagnall, PhD
November 30, 2021

Bruno Gegenhuber
Epigenetic regulation of brain masculinization by estrogen receptor alpha

School of Biological Sciences, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
Graduate advisor: Jessica Tollkuhn, PhD

Hosted by: Harrison Gabel, PhD
December 14, 2021

Barbara Peysakhovich
Abstract cognitive encoding in the primate superior colliculus

Computational Neuroscience, The University of Chicago
Graduate advisor: David Freedman, PhD

Hosted by: Larry Snyder, MD, PhD
March 29, 2022

Zuzanna Balewski
Fast decision representation in caudate nucleus during value-based choices

Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute, University of California, Berkeley
Graduate advisor: Joni Wallis, PhD

Hosted by: Camillo Padoa-Schioppa, PhD
April 26, 2022

Christabel (Bel) Tan
Autism-linked δ-catenin is required for astrocyte maturation and survival

Cell Biology, Duke University
Graduate advisor: Cagla Eroglu, PhD

Hosted by: Jason Yi, PhD
May 31, 2022

Ling-Qi Zhang
Sensory representation optimized for visual priors

Psychology, University of Pennsylvania
Graduate advisors: Alan Stocker, PhD, David Brainard, PhD

Hosted by: Gaia Tavoni, PhD
June 14, 2022

Chunyang (Jason) Dong

Psychedelic-inspired drug discovery using an engineered biosensor

Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Davis
Graduate advisor: Lin Tian, PhD

Hosted by: Yao Chen, PhD
June 21, 2022

Sheng Gong
Cocaine shifts dopamine D2-receptor sensitivity to gate conditioned behaviors

Physiology & Biophysics, Case Western Reserve University
Graduate advisor: Christopher P. Ford, PhD

Hosted by: Thomas Papouin, PhD

See the department’s full events calendar>>

Questions? Please email