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.

2020 Thach Award Winners!

Systems Neuroscience

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”

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

Dana Klatt Shaw, PhD (Mokalled Lab, Developmental Biology)

“Localized EMT reprograms glial progenitors to promote spinal cord repair”

Previous winners of Thach Awards


  • 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”