Four of the Six Winners of the McKnight Scholar Awards Are Women

The McKnight Endowment Fund for Neuroscience is an independent organization funded solely by The McKnight Foundation of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and led by a board of prominent neuroscientists from around the country. The McKnight Scholar Awards are granted to young scientists who are in the early stages of establishing their own independent laboratories and research careers and who have demonstrated a commitment to neuroscience. Each scholar receives $225,000 to support his or her research.

This year four of the six McKnight Scholars are women.

Christine Constantinople is an assistant professor at the New York University Center for Neural Science. Dr. Constantinople is conducting research to uncover how internal models of the world are represented in the brain and how these representations contribute to decision-making, especially when an individual enters a new and complex environment. Dr. Constantinople is a graduate of New York University and earned a Ph.D. in neurobiology from Columbia University.

Markita Landry is an assistant professor in the department of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. Her research involves building and deploying optical sensors that can detect in real-time the presence of the neuropeptide oxytocin, and using these sensors to help better diagnose chemical imbalances in the brain. A native of Bolivia, Dr. Landry is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in chemistry and physics. She holds a Ph.D. in chemical physics from the University of Illinois.

Lauren Orefice is an assistant professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School. Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) has traditionally been thought to be caused solely by abnormalities in the brain, but Dr. Orefice has found that alterations in peripheral sensory neurons contribute to the development of ASD symptoms in mice, including hypersensitivity to touch of the skin and altered social behaviors. Dr. Orefice is a graduate of Boston College, where she majored in biology. She earned a Ph.D. n neuroscience at Georgetown University in Washington D.C.

Kanaka Rajan is an assistant professor in the Friedman Brain Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York. Her research seeks to understand how important cognitive functions — such as learning, remembering and deciding — emerge from the cooperative activity of multi-scale neural processes. Dr. Rajan is a graduate of Anna University in India. She holds a master’s degree from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Columbia University in New York City.

The McKnight Foundation has supported neuroscience research since 1977. The Foundation established the Endowment Fund in 1986 to carry out one of the intentions of founder William L. McKnight (1887-1979), who was one of the early leaders of what is now the 3M Company.

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