Conference Awards

The NEURON conference committee presents the following awards during the conference:

The Frye Pioneering Research Award

The Frye Pioneering Research Award will be given in the name of Cheryl Frye, PhD, to the person of diversity who presents the most novel and compelling research findings at the NEURON Conference. 

The award honors Frye's: pioneering nature; her work; and her dedication to enhance biomedical sciences, diversity and opportunities for trainees, including the NEURON conference. The award will be given to a person who self-identifies as diverse (an underrepresented racial ethnic minority, first generation college student, from a low-income household, a rural upbringing, an inner-city upbringing, or someone with a disability). Because Frye meets almost all of these criteria of diversity, her success demonstrates her pioneering abilities and ability to succeed against the odds.

Frye was a co-founder of NEURON, along with colleagues Cheryl McCormick and Priscilla Kehoe. Frye organized 20 NEURON conferences and presented the results at international meetings. In addition, she inspired and helped secure funding for other's efforts to host similar events.

Frye has conducted ground-breaking research on novel sex steroid production and function. Her lab examines non-traditional sources of steroid hormones, such as those that are produced in the brain independent of the gonads (called neurosteroids). Neurosteroids mediate the stress axis and parasympathetic function. She and her team also investigate novel targets of steroid. Steroids in the brain can work at intracellular cognate steroid receptors or non-traditional targets, such as GABAA, dopamine, NMDA, nicotinic and membrane progestin receptors.

Frye's findings have transformed our understanding of basic actions of steroid hormones, and furthered our knowledge about etiopathophysiology and treatment of various hormone-sensitive disorders (cancer, neurodevelopmental, neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders).

To date, Frye has published more than 250 articles in high-quality peer-reviewed journals. She has also published 17 chapters, including 10 reports in textbooks. She has an H index of 56 and over 11,000 citations of her work. Frye is repeatedly invited to contribute to journals in her field, to interdisciplinary top-tier journals, and to participate in collaborative training of medical scientists and practitioners. She is routinely asked to give talks at a variety of national and international venues.

Frye has been highly successful in garnering external funding for her program of research. She has secured more than $30 million for research from sources such as The National Science Foundation, The National Institutes of Health, The Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program, The Donaghue Foundation, The Whitehall Foundation, The Epilepsy Foundation, The Eli Lilly Centre for Women's Health Research, and Karo Bio. She has also earned a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation, an R01 from National Institute of Mental Health, and support from foundations and industry. In addition, Frye has mentored and garnered financial support for hundreds of students and dozens of faculty.

In 2003, the Society for Neuroscience Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience recognized Frye as Educator of the Year for her efforts in ensuring that students are afforded the opportunity to present their research at conferences and to hear from other leaders in the field.

In 2009, Frye received the prestigious Boston Latin School Alumna Award. The school, the oldest preparatory school in the United States, presents this highest honor to alumni who have made a significant impact in their community and substantial contributions in their careers. Frye is the youngest and the first female recipient of the award.

Frye, an Alaskan native, recently joined the faculty at the University of Alaska as a professor of neuroscience in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. She obtained her doctorate in behavioral neuroscience at Tufts University. Her post-doctoral residency in neuroendocrinology at Boston University was supported by an individual National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health. She has held appointments at Tufts University and Harvard Medical School, as well as prior positions at Bates College, Connecticut College, University of Hartford, and University at Albany.

She brings 30 years of research and 20 years of administrative experience to her current role as director of the IDeA Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) program at University of Alaska, where she leads a program to enhance biomedical research, training and evidence-based biomedical practice in the state of Alaska.

Suzannah Bliss Tieman Poster Award (Undergraduate and Graduate)

In memory of Suzannah Bliss Tieman — an extraordinary neuroscientist, teacher, colleague, wife, and friend — NEURON will present research awards to students who exhibit high quality presentations of their projects.

From 1977 until her death in October 2007, Tieman was a senior research associate in the Neurobiology Research Center, a research professor in biological sciences, and an adjunct professor in the School of Public Health at the University at Albany (SUNY).

Her research had three major foci: the effects of visual deprivation on synaptic organization; the effects of development and visual deprivation on the dendrites of cells in the visual pathway; and the effects of visual deprivation and deafferentation on the expression of possible neurotransmitters, most notably N-acetyl-aspartyl-glutamate. She conducted a series of behavioral, physiological and anatomical experiments on these topics throughout her 30-year career.

Tieman had very specific ideas about how research should be presented so that an audience could most readily take in and consolidate the "take-home" message. The criteria that are used to judge presentations are those that Tieman valued most:

  1. Format and organization of the presentation
  2. Use of color, font, figures, and pictures
  3. Clear, succinct methodology
  4. Ability to thoughtfully answer questions
  5. Enthusiasm about project

Tieman's former students and colleagues, members of the NEURON Steering and/or Local Organizing Committee, and former recipients of the prize will judge students' posters based on the above criteria.

Mary S. Erskine Faculty Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Mentorship

The award honors the late Mary S. Erskine, who made significant contributions as a role model in her field. The award will recognize other faculty members who make significant scholarly contributions and who make substantial investments in mentoring trainees. 

Erskine, a Boston University (BU) professor of biology and former director of the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), was best known for her pioneering research on the neuroendocrine regulation of mating behavior in rats. Her research engaged a wide variety of behavioral, neural, and physiological techniques to address questions of how an individual's behavior can elicit changes in physiology.

In addition to being a superlative researcher and teacher, Erskine was a pioneer in the scientific community. Erskine arrived at BU in 1985 as a research assistant professor, and in 1990 was appointed the Clare Boothe Luce Professor of Biology - a professorship funded by the Luce Foundation that recognizes outstanding women in science. She achieved tenure in 1995 and was promoted to full professor in 1999.

Despite being diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer in 1999, Erskine continued her scholarly pursuits. She developed entry-level courses for biology undergraduates specializing in neuroscience. In 2004, she was appointed director of UROP, a university initiative that promotes participation by undergraduates in faculty-mentored research.

As a senior woman in the biology department, Erskine was a mentor and role model for many trainees who sought to establish careers in science. Moreover, she proved that women could have both an enriching family and work life.

Erksine passed in December 2007 at the age of 61.

Nu Rho Psi Best Poster Award

Nu Rho Psi, the national honor society in neuroscience, strives to "encourage professional interest and excellence in... neuroscience; and award recognition to students who have achieved such excellence in scholarship," according tot he Nu Rho Psi Constitution.

The Nu Rho Psi National Council grants the award to the "Best Poster/Paper" presented at each of the four regional undergraduate neuroscience conferences held each year. The selection criteria and selection processes for the award are entirely up to the regional conference organizers, but the award aims to reward the poster/paper of the highest scientific quality. In the case of a tie among high-quality posters/papers, preference will be given to the candidate who is a Nu Rho Psi member.