Scientific writing and communication are essential for advancing science, translating science and ensuring results reach a broad audience, and are critical to career development for both junior and senior scientists. A well-written manuscript conveys contributions to the field, situates the findings into broader frameworks, and most importantly, creates enthusiasm about the subject matter (Mensh & Kording, 2017). However, most trainees are not explicitly taught the skills necessary for effective scientific writing until they reach graduate school, during which time, they typically ‘learn by doing’ under the guidance of a skilled mentor, becoming more proficient as they gain first-hand experience through the writing, peer review, and publication processes. This seminar will provide guidance on structuring papers in a way that adequately communicates the main ideas of the paper, but perhaps more critically, how to navigate this process as a mentee, and how to support trainees through this journey as a mentor. Dr. Parr will describe her progression as she has learned to write with mentors with a diverse range of preferences and expertise, first as a graduate student (learning phase), next as a postdoctoral scholar (refinement phase), and presently as research faculty where she is finding her voice as an independent writer and developing her role as a mentor. Dr. Luna will describe the essentials for a good paper given her own publishing history, mentoring, reviewing for journals, and as Editor of a journal. She will also provide critical perspective into mentoring in scientific writing, supporting trainees with diverse writing styles, working to balance and adjust to the needs and experience level of each trainee, and how to support mentees through their development as scientific writers as they transition through graduate school to become independent researchers.
Beatriz Luna, PhD is the Distinguished Staunton Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the founder and Director of the Laboratory for Neurocognitive Development, the founder and acting past president of the Flux Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, and the Editor in Chief of the journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.
Dr. Luna studies brain development, examining the neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the adolescent period, from decision-making to vulnerabilities to the emergence of mental illness. Her research uses multimodal neuroimaging methods including: functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), Magnetoencephalography (MEG), and Positron Emission Tomography (PET). The findings from her studies have led to an influential model of adolescent development, which indicates that the brain systems supporting executive processes are available by adolescence, but are driven by neural processes supporting motivation. Her model emphasizes that adolescence is a critical period of brain specialization in which adult modes of operation are determined - underlining vulnerabilities for the emergence of psychopathology. Dr. Luna has published over a hundred peer-reviewed articles describing her innovative studies, in addition to several review papers and chapters discussing her theoretical models of development. She has received numerous awards, notably the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering. Her research has been continuously supported by the National Institutes of Mental Health, and has informed US Supreme Court briefs regarding extended sentencing in the juvenile justice system. Her extensive media history also includes a cover story in National Geographic and a PBS Special with Alan Alda - “Brains on Trial”. Dr. Luna has mentored 15 PhD students from psychology, neuroscience, and bioengineering, as well as more than 10 postdoctoral fellows, and 7 junior faculty, all of whom have had a productive publishing history and successful careers.
Ashley C Parr, PhD is a Research Instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research characterizes how developmental changes in reward and cognitive systems support the transition from adolescence to adulthood. Dr. Parr uses multimodal neuroimaging (fMRI, rsfMRI, PET, MTR, tissue iron, and MRS) in both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses to understand how the brain changes through adolescence to support the transition to adulthood. Her findings emphasize how individual differences in dopamine function contribute to the development of cognitive control and reward systems throughout adolescence, which have implications for the emergence of neuropsychiatric disorders. Dr. Parr is particularly interested in how dopamine interacts with other brain systems, how this gives rise to differences in decision-making across development, particularly exacerbated sensation seeking that is a feature of behavioral phenotypes such as substance use and delinquency behaviors that emerge and intensify during the adolescent period. Dr. Parr has published several peer-reviewed articles describing her innovative studies, in addition to several chapters contextualizing findings within theoretical models of development, and has mentored several undergraduate students throughout the course of her PhD and postdoctoral appointment. She has a particular interest in applying her findings in normative development to high-risk populations and translating her findings in order to inform policy within the juvenile justice system and develop preventative strategies for at-risk youth.