In recognition of William Thomas (Tom) Thach, MD, a longstanding member of the Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology.

Tom was a pioneering researcher on the function of the cerebellum, a part of the brain responsible for coordination of movement.  He was recognized internationally for his scientific contributions.  He was a beloved mentor and friend.  Tom loved hiking, camping, canoeing, hunting, reading literature and poetry, hosting feasts of wild game, and playing music with family, friends, and post docs in his band Taum Sauk.  He is long-remembered for his contribution to the aesthetic of numerous Neuroscience Retreats, providing live vocals and strings.

Learn more about Tom.

The Tom Thach Award was initiated in 2014 to honor Tom’s contribution to science and to the Annual Neuroscience Retreat.  Grad students and post docs are eligible to compete, and winners are chosen from short talks and poster presentations at the Retreat.  Presentations are evaluated by panels of faculty members who are selected selected to achieve broad representation of expertise and scientific approach.  These awards are made possible by support from the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience, and the McDonnell Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology.

Congratulations to the 2021 Thach Award Winners!

Short Talks

Ryan Raut

Raichle lab, WashU Radiology
“Brain state evolves along a
spatiotemporal cycle”


Yifan Wu

Papouin lab, WashU Neuroscience
“Uncovering the role of astrocytic a7nAChR in cognitive behaviors”

Congratulations to the 2021 Thach Award Finalists!

In addition to the Thach Award winners, we congratulate the finalists!

For the posters, finalists were selected by faculty judges based on abstract review in advance of the Retreat.

For the talks, all trainee speakers were finalists.

Thach Award, Poster Finalists

  • Vishnu Muraleedharan Saraswathy (Mokalled lab, WashU Developmental Biology)
    “Identification of injury-induced neurons and regenerative factors by single-cell transcriptomics”

  • Jenna Krizan (Kerschensteiner lab, WashU Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences)
    “Contributions of retinal direction-selectivity to predation in mice”

  • Anupama Tiwari (Ashrafi lab, WashU Cell Biology & Physiology)
    “The role of mitochondrial sirtuin 3 in metabolic regulation of neurotransmission”

  • Manish Kumar Madasu (Al-Hasani and McCall labs, WashU Anesthesiology)
    “Peripheral kappa opioid receptor activation drives cold hypersensitivity in mice”

  • Takaya Ogasawara (Monosov lab, WashU Neuroscience)
    “Neuronal mechanisms of novelty seeking”

  • Jonah A. Padawer-Curry (Imaging Science Program; Bauer and McCall labs, WashU Radiology)
    “Using deep neural networks for light-based motor mapping of multiple limbs in mice”

  • Manning Zhang (Biomedical Engineering Program; Padoa-Schioppa and Holy labs, WashU Neuroscience)
    “Neuronal encoding of economic decision variables in the mouse orbitofrontal cortex is consistent across days”

Talk Finalists

  • Rui Feng, PhD (Cavalli lab, Neuroscience)
    “Profiling macrophages in dorsal root ganglia reveals distinct origin and roles in axon regeneration after peripheral nerve injury”

  • Kellan Weston (Molecular Cell Biology Program; Yi lab, Neuroscience)
    “UBE3A hyperactivity as a driver of neurodevelopmental disease”

  • Bridget Matikainen-Ankey, PhD (Kravitz lab, Psychiatry)
    “How does obesity alter basal ganglia circuits and food seeking?”

  • Alessandro Livi, PhD (Padoa-Schioppa lab, Neuroscience)
    “Stable activity profiles in mouse orbitofrontal cortex over many weeks”

  • Rebecca Brady (Neuroscience Program; Smyser lab, Neurology)
    “The Effects of Prenatal Crime Exposure on Neonatal Functional Connectivity”

  • Caitlin Dingwall (Molecular Genetics and Genomics Program; Milbrandt lab, Genetics)
    “Rare NMNAT2 variants cause a severe SARM1-dependent inflammatory polyneuropathy syndrome”

  • Yang-Yang Feng (Biomedical Engineering Program; Monosov lab, Neuroscience)
    “Lateral habenula activity predicts and causally influences online decision-making”

  • Lu Zhao, PhD (Cui lab, Biomedical Engineering)
    “A potential sonogenetic actuator for ultrasound-mediated neuromodulation”

Thanks to our faculty judges, to Saul Bello Rojas (Neuro student; Retreat Committee member) for coordinating, and to the McDonnell Centers for making the awards possible.

Previous winners of Thach Awards


  • Kalyan Tripathy (Neuroscience Program; Culver Lab, Radiology)
    “Brain mapping in preschool-age children with high-density diffuse optical tomography”

  • Yvan Vachez, PhD (Creed Lab, Anesthesiology)
    “Ventral arkypallidal neurons inhibit accumbal firing to promote reward consumption”

  • Dana Klatt Shaw, PhD (Mokalled Lab, Developmental Biology)
    “Localized EMT reprograms glial progenitors to promote spinal cord repair”


  • Short Talks: Yang Shi, PhD (Holtzman Lab, Neurology)
    “Microglia drive neurodegeneration and mediate APOE’s effect on neurodegeneration in a tauopathy mouse model”
  • Posters: Tamara Markovic (Neuroscience Program; Moron-Concepcion Lab)
    “Dissecting the role of dorsal hippocampus in reinstatement of drug seeking behavior”


  • Short Talks: Hailun Li (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program; DiAntonio Lab)
    “A neuromodulatory circuit regulating the glial capacity to buffer K+”
  • Posters: Weikang Shi (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program; Padoa-Schioppa Lab)
    “Establishing Causal Links between Neural Activity in Orbitofrontal Cortex and Economic Choices”


  • Short Talks: Alex Russo (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program; DiAntonio Lab) 
    “Highwire promotes efficient synaptic transmission at the larval NMJ by targeting dNMNAT”
  • Posters: Kelly Hill (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program; Bonni Lab)
    “Influence of Neurogenesis Timing on Cerebellar Circuitry”


    • Short Talks: Xitong Liang (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program; Taghert and Holy Labs) “Neural mechanisms transform synchronized circadian timing into multiple daily outputs”
    • Posters: Yang Shi (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program; Holtzman Lab) “Effect of ApoE on tau pathogenesis and tau-mediated neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s disease”


    • Short Talks: Elinor Harrison (Graduate student, Movement Science Program; Earhart Lab) “Feasibility of Singing to Improve Gait Measures in Parkinson’s Disease”
    • Posters:  Andrew Kraft (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program; Lee Lab) “Sensory deprivation following cortical focal ischemia facilitates remapping and accelerates behavioral recovery”


    • Short Talks: Matheus Victor (Graduate student, Neuroscience Program; Yoo Lab) “Generation of Human Striatal Neurons by MicroRNA-Dependent Direct Conversion of Fibroblasts”