My name is Noah Guiberson. I’m a sophomore Molecular & Cellular Biology and Neuroscience double major from Houston, Texas.
There are literally hundreds of student organizations on campus, but I’d like to take this opportunity to tell you about one with which I’m deeply involved.
I’m president of the Johns Hopkins Neuroscience Journal Association for Young Scientists (NeuroJAYS), a student organization in which neuroscience majors (as well as other undergraduates interested in neurobiology) meet weekly to discuss some of the most formative papers in the field with Hopkins Neuro faculty.
Basically, NeuroJAYS is a neuroscience journal club. We meet in Gilman Hall, and discuss papers and reviews pertaining to a central theme. The mission of NeuroJAYS is to provide undergraduates interested in Neuroscience with a relaxed setting in which the theory and implications of some of the most important articles in the field can be discussed and better understood.
The really unique thing about our organization is that we bring in faculty members who do not have any significant expertise in the aspect of Neuroscience that we’re studying. The faculty and students alike are reading the articles for the first time, and it’s proven valuable to see how these intellectual giants handle exposure to completely new science and to compare it with our own.
NeuroJAYS started in the Spring of 2011 when a friend and I were sitting in the class Cognitive Neuroscience. We started talking about the lack of an undergraduate journal club for Neuroscience, and discussing our dissatisfaction with the rigidity and lack of student input with the 1 credit class “Neuroscience Journal Club”, which, at the time, only Juniors and Seniors could take. (Now, the class is far less rigid, and admits Sophomores as well!)
We felt that this sort of primary-source study was better undertaken in a completely optional, long-term, extracurricular setting. We stress at every meeting that whether or not you read the articles is entirely up to you and whether you feel like it that week. What we feel we’ve created, as a result, is a community of common interest, expertise and motivation. No one feels pressured to read the articles or even to come to the meetings if, say, they have an Organic Chemistry exam the next day. We found that that philosophy resonated with our members and many read every week whether they can come to meetings or not! So, we’ve got a pretty great thing going here.
An additional perk is that you get to form personal relationships with Neuro professors who can help you with your classes, to find research positions, and even recommendations when the time comes.
We upload all of the papers and reviews that we discuss to our website, so, if you’d like, you can read along with us at https://johnshopkins.collegiatelink.net/organization/neurojays under “Documents”. If you have any questions, you can also find contact information there.