Vikram Gadagkar, MS ‘ 10, PhD ‘13, has received the Peter and Patricia Gruber International Research Award from the Society for Neuroscience (SfN), along with Harvard postdoctoral fellow Johannes Kohl. Gadagkar is a postdoctoral fellow in Assistant Professor Jesse Goldberg's lab in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior.
This $25,000 award, supported by The Gruber Foundation, is given to two postdoctoral fellows who have contributed outstanding neuroscience research in an international setting. It will be presented at Neuroscience 2018, SfN's annual meeting.
"Gadagkar's studies have elucidated how the neural circuitry responsible for trial-and-error learning mechanisms parallel reward-seeking behavior," SfN President Richard Huganir said. "The fact that [he and Kohl] have made these accomplishments so early in their careers is testimony to the role that the next generation of neuroscientists will have in shaping the field."
Gadagkar began his studies in experimental quantum physics, transitioning to neuroscience as a doctoral student at Cornell, where he became interested in the neural networks underlying behavior. In Goldberg's lab, he studies trial-and-error learning mechanisms, using how songbirds determine correct versus erroneous song outcomes as a model system. He found that when a songbird heard an incorrect part of the song sequence (distorted with auditory feedback), basal ganglia-projecting dopamine neurons were suppressed; when that part was undistorted, these neurons were activated.
The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) is an organization of nearly 36,000 basic scientists and clinicians who study the brain and the nervous system.