Gracie Grimsrud (right) pictured with Nora Byington at the 2022 Flux Congress

MIDB Well-Represented at International Flux Congress

Gracie Grimsrud (right) pictured with Nora Byington at the 2022 Flux Congress.

Many MIDB members and students attended this month's Flux Congress in Paris, France. The annual event is held by the Flux Society, which aims to advance the understanding of human brain development by serving as a forum for professional and student scientists, physicians, and educators.

Vanessa Alschuler, a doctoral student in the Clinical Science and Psychopathology Research Program who also works at the MIDB Child Psychiatry Clinic, says she attended the event to be surrounded by exciting work, and to share ideas and conversations with leaders and forward thinkers within the field.

Vanessa Alschuler
Vanessa Alschuler

"For me, a major takeaway from the event is the need to integrate across techniques and approaches," said Alschuler. "I pondered a lot during the Congress how my work fits in with others', how it fits in within the larger scope of development, and importantly how we can integrate across approaches—whether that be animal models, white matter development, functional connectivity, etc.—to really attempt to answer how the brain develops and what that means for human behavior and wellbeing. These are ideas I really hope to keep in mind and apply as I move through my graduate education and beyond."

Gracie Grimsrud, an undergraduate research assistant in the DCAN Lab, chose to attend the event because of the value that the Flux Society places on educating and encouraging young scientists.

"As a student, it is very empowering to be a part of a group that is so committed to raising up the next generation," said Grimsrud. "Having attended Flux virtually in the past, I knew that it would be an excellent opportunity to learn from some of the best minds in the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience."

Grimsrud also says that she learned that talking to one another about the work being done is important.

"I was really inspired by Dr. Luna's speech at the beginning of the conference when she spoke about the reason why the Flux Congress was developed. She emphasized that we, as scientists in the field, need a space to talk to one another in order to grow and advance the science we are doing. Flux was designed so that we could do just that, but it is important to continue communicating outside of the conference as well."

While the primary purpose of the Congress is to provide a forum for developmental cognitive neuroscientists to share their findings on the development of brain processes that support cognition and motivation from an integrative neuroscience perspective, networking is a draw for many attendees.

"Flux allowed me the opportunity to talk to people about their paths in science, ask for advice from people who have been in my position in the past, and discover opportunities for future work that I was not aware of before," said Grimsrud. "Knowing how to talk to people and ask the right questions is a skill that anyone can benefit from, in any educational or career path."

MIDB Co-Director Damien Fair, PA-C, PhD, who serves as Flux Society's president, said, "Flux is a focus on family, junior investigators and fun, mostly fun. We had such an amazing showing from the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain and the Institute of Child Development—a clear sign that the University of Minnesota is in a position to lead the field into the future.”

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