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McLaughlin, Casagrande honored by the Society for Neuroscience

Nov. 29, 2018, 10:02 AM


by Bill Snyder

Two Vanderbilt University scientists — BethAnn McLaughlin, PhD, and the late Vivien Casagrande, PhD — have been honored by the Society for Neuroscience for making significant contributions to the advancement of women in science.

BethAnn McLaughlin, PhD

McLaughlin, assistant professor of Neurology and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, received the Louise Hanson Marshall Special Recognition Award for her efforts to promote the professional development and success of women neuroscientists.

Casagrande, who was internationally known for her groundbreaking research on sensory systems and development, was inducted into the Patricia Goldman-Rakic Hall of Honor. The award posthumously recognizes outstanding neuroscientists who were dedicated to advancing the careers of other women in the field.

The awards were presented earlier this month during the society’s annual meeting, Neuroscience 2018, in San Diego. The Society for Neuroscience is the world’s largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and the nervous system.

Vivien Casagrande, PhD

An expert on brain cell injury, McLaughlin earned her PhD in Neurological Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. She joined the Vanderbilt faculty in 2002.

In addition to mentoring trainees in her own lab, McLaughlin has undertaken projects to encourage the equitable participation of underrepresented groups in science and to communicate science to the broader public.

She also directs an online community called Edge for Scholars that provides advice and resources to trainees on all aspects of a scientific career. Through Edge for Scholars, McLaughlin has advocated for the equitable treatment of women in science, Title IX reform and accountability in gender and race parity.

Casagrande, who died in 2017, was a professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences and Psychology. Her studies, which included mapping visual circuitry in several primate species, added greatly to current understanding of brain development and plasticity.

She received numerous honors for her research, including the Charles Judson Herrick Award from the American Association of Anatomists and a Vanderbilt Chancellor’s Award for Research. The Vanderbilt Brain Institute named her Outstanding Teacher of the Year in 2015 for her contributions to teaching and mentoring.

Casagrande was a past president of the Cajal Club, the nation’s oldest neuroscience society, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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