New Scientific Advisor: Dr. Anne Churchland

January 3, 2023

Dr. Anne Churchland has joined the JCC Board of Scientific Advisors. Dr. Churchland is a Professor and Arnold Scheibel Chair of Neuroscience at UCLA. The Churchland Lab studies how decisions are made at the cellular level. They investigate neural circuits underlying decision making in order to better understand how our brains integrate information from our multiple senses, stored memories, and innate impulses. Many awards have recognized this outstanding research. For example, Churchland is a Scholar of the Pew Charitable Trust, McKnight Foundation, and the Merck Foundation.

Dr. Churchland and her lab contribute to post-publication review through “Our Read of the Archive, Churchland Lab’s Experience” or ORACLE for short. Essentially, they are documenting their journal club experience, with a focus on BioRxiv preprints. ORACLE arose out of a desire to document the long and thorough lab discussions during journal clubs. Previously, Churchland felt that the knowledge and energy gained via journal club discussions evaporated as soon as they left the meeting. Now, students write short summaries and analyses of the preprint. They post these to their lab website for quick reference and for anyone to peruse. Furthermore, Churchland views this exercise as filling a gap in writing opportunities for students. Normally, students have infrequent yet lengthy writing assignments (grants, manuscripts, dissertation, etc.). Developing ORACLE summaries provides more frequent opportunities for students to practice scientific writing.

Dr. Churchland advises JCC Fellows to be bold, practical, and open in their research. She encourages JCC fellows to be forward thinking and embrace risky and novel ideas. As JCC Fellows transition into their own labs, Churchland suggests they should start with feasible projects to get a foothold on their independent career. Lastly, she encourages JCC Fellows to keep an open mind as to how exactly their careers might unfold. Indeed, Churchland reflects on how unexpected changes in her scientific focus and geographical location were ultimately transformative in her success.

Welcome to the JCC Board of Scientific Advisors Dr. Anne Churchland!