Two graduate research scientists at Rutgers University in newark recieve honors

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(Newark, NJ,) —Neuroscientist Dr. Mariano Belluscio of Rutgers University is one of 10 2008 Pew Latin American Fellows in Biomedical Sciences awarded by the Pew Charitable Trusts. Launched in 1991, the Pew Latin American Fellows Program in Biomedical Sciences helps develop highly trained Latin American scientists who show potential for stimulating and contributing to the growth of quality biomedical science as well as fostering collaboration between scientists in Latin America and the United States. Each fellow receives $60,000 for a two-year preparational period.

Belluscio is a graduate fellow at Rutgers University in Newark working in Dr. Gyorgy Buzsaki’s laboratory at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience. Belluscio explores how neurons in the brain act together to record and recall memories. Combining state-of-the-art techniques for simultaneously monitoring the activities of 50-100 different neurons in an awake rat with a novel behavioral test designed to encourage animals to think back and ahead, Belluscio examines the patterns of neural activity that occur when rats remember what they did before and plan to do next. His findings could deepen our understanding of the fundamental mechanisms that form the basis of memory, planning and decision-making.

Belluscio received his doctoral degree in neurophysiology from the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 2008.

Katharine Seip
Also receiving honors is Rutgers neuroscience doctoral student Katharine Seip who was one of 21 women to receive the Executive Women of New Jersey’s 2008 Graduate Merit Award. Established in 1986, the Graduate Merit Award Program is a scholarship program that benefits women who reside in New Jersey and are
pursuing graduate level degrees at New Jersey colleges and universities. Seip received $3,500 from the organization.

Seip is studying with Dr. Joan Morrell at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University in Newark. Her dissertation research focuses on understanding motivated behavior – why an individual may be intensely attracted to certain stimulus in her environment, such as food, sex, or drugs, and then aggressively seek it out. Specifically, Seip is focusing on (a) which areas of the brain determine whether a postpartum female rat is motivated to seek out a particular stimulus available to her in her environment, such as her offspring or even cocaine, and the strength of that motivation and (b) at which points during the postpartum period a maternal female is most responsive to the reward value of a natural (offspring) or pharmacological (drug) stimuli. Seip’s findings will help broaden our awareness of the motivational systems involved in effective parental care.

In 2004, Seip received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Santa Clara University, California. She is a resident of Jersey City, New Jersey.