Samantha Debes, a doctoral student in the laboratory of Valentin Dragoi, Ph.D., in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, has been named the inaugural recipient of the Terry J. Crow, Ph.D. Scholarship in Neuroscience.

The certificate for the award was presented to Debes Sept. 7 at the Neuroscience Program student retreat held at The San Luis Resort and Conference Center in Galveston.  The scholarship provides support in the amount of $1,750.

The award is named after Terry J. Crow, Ph.D., professor emeritus at McGovern Medical School, who studied the cellular and molecular mechanisms of learning and memory.  He made seminal contributions to the field, for which he received both national and international recognition.  In addition to Crow’s research activities, he contributed significantly to the institution’s academic mission during his 27-year tenure.  He was recognized as one of the best lecturers by medical students and was the recipient of the Dean’s Teaching Excellence Award for 18 years.

Debes, a native of Washington Township, New Jersey, completed her undergraduate education at Syracuse University, where she earned a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and neuroscience in 2014.  She successfully completed her Ph.D. candidacy exam in December 2017, and was unanimously voted on by the Ph.D. Candidacy Examining Committee of the Neuroscience Program as the best candidate for the scholarship.

Debes’ research examines groups of neurons: how they work together and how these interactions influence behavior.  She is particularly interested in determining the functions of groups of neurons based on their laminar position within the cortex.  She is in the process of completing a project on the properties of neurons within a cortical column and how these properties change when the input signal from nearby cells is suppressed. She also has begun a new project in which she will examine cortical feedback in the visual system.