FVSU Student Researchers Shine "Brilliantly" on an International Stage

Posted on Dec 06, 2018


Josie Williams and Dr. Felicia Jefferson Josie Williams (left) and Dr. Felicia Jefferson (right) during the poster presentation series at the 2018 SfN Conference (San Diego Convention Center, November 2018).

Two FVSU students, environmental health MPH graduate student, Sherrondria Buchanan and biology undergraduate student, Josie Williams, who has a 4.0 G.P.A., recently presented work from their scientific research projects at the 48th Annual Society for Neuroscience Conference in San Diego, CA.

The Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Conference attracts 30,000 attendees annually. Each year, scientists from around the world gather to discover new ideas, share educational and research outcomes, and experience the best the field of neuroscience has to offer.

This year, the conference was held at the San Diego Convention Center. Attendees of Neuroscience 2018 were able to present research, network with other scientists, attend sessions and events, browse the exhibit hall, and enjoy the picturesque views of the city of San Diego. Neuroscience 2018 featured lectures, symposia, and events for scientists at all career stages. Sessions and events at the meeting were designed to provide attendees with a range of opportunities, including scientific enrichment, career development, and professional networking.

The students conducted their research under the tutelage of Dr. Felicia Jefferson, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, who accompanied them to the conference. Buchanan gave a research talk titled "Sleep Deprivation Between Genders and Age in Drosophila Melanogaster: Determining Whether Prolactin Levels Affect Sleep Deprivation," as a part of the conference's nanosymposium series titled "Integrative Physiology and Behavior." Prolactin is a hormone normally associated with the production of breast milk, though high levels can occur in men and women outside of pregnancy.

"These are competitive talks usually reserved for postdoctoral fellows and Ph.D. candidates," said Dr. Jefferson.

Williams participated in the poster presentation series with a project titled "Broadening Participation in STEM Using a Novel Research Intervention Tool".

"My experience at the Neuroscience 2018 Conference was a huge eye opener to the world of neuroscience," said Buchanan. "Traveling to another state, interacting among well-known scientists; I was truly honored. They provided me with lots of options on pathways I could take when it came to furthering my career and other research opportunities." Buchanan graduated cum laude in December of 2016 with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Biology from Fort Valley State University.

Sherrondria Buchanan and Josie Williams 2 Josie Williams at a virtually interactive exhibition booth at SfN Conference 2018 (San Diego Convention Center, November 2018)

"Having the opportunity to attend the SfN Neuroscience 2018 Conference was truly amazing," Williams added. "It was definitely a professionally rewarding experience. We had the opportunity to travel outside of the state and hear other presentations and converse with other researchers. It was very interesting to learn about other topics included in neuroscience. This trip definitely allowed me to obtain a deeper understanding of neurobiology and gain more information about different career and research opportunities."

"Ms. Buchanan and Ms. Williams did a remarkable job presenting some of the neurobiology research we've completed in our lab on an international stage," said Dr. Jefferson. "I'm proud of the work Ms. Buchanan and Ms. Williams have contributed to their respective research projects and the opportunities they've taken advantage of to further explore the field of neurobiology while brilliantly representing Fort Valley State University."

Since 1969, the Society for Neuroscience has provided an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in neuroscience and its related technologies. SfN aims to advance scientific exchange, support the neuroscience community, educate and engage the public, and advocate for the field. Additional information on past and future SfN Conferences may be found at

This work is supported by National Science Foundation Award #1649717 to Dr. Felicia Jefferson.


Top image: Sherrondria Buchanan during her nanosymposium talk titled "Sleep deprivation between genders and age in Drosophila melanogaster: Determining whether prolactin levels affect sleep deprivation". (San Diego Convention Center, November 2018).

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