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 postdocs 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 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 2022 Thach Awards
Winners and Finalists!

Short Talks

Zelun Wang

Williams and Apte labs
Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences

“Energetic diversity of retinal ganglion cells and implications for neurodegeneration”


Keran Yang

Kepecs lab

“Context and location regulate the effects of optogenetic stimulation of the superior colliculus”

Talk Finalists

  • Vicki Brings, PhD (Gereau lab, Anesthesiology)
    “An implantable closed-loop system detects fentanyl-induced respiratory depression and delivers naloxone to enable recovery from an opioid overdose”
  • Davide Gheza, PhD (Kool lab, Psychological & Brain Sciences)
    “Control mechanisms informed by neural representation of task rules”
  • Kayla Hannon (Neuroscience Program; Bijsterbosch lab, Radiology)
    “Parsing Heterogeneity in Depression Elucidates Distinct Neuroimaging Profiles”
  • Jennifer Lawrence (Neuroscience Program; Musiek lab, Neurology)
    “Regulation of BBB integrity and inflammatory demyelination by the astrocyte circadian clock”
  • David Lee, PhD (Sheets lab, Otolaryngology)
    “Acute mitochondrial dysfunction precedes cisplatin ototoxicity in the zebrafish lateral-line organ”
  • Jose Mazzitelli Perez (Neuroscience Program; Kipnis lab, Pathology & Immunology)
    “Unexpected role of cerebrospinal fluid in regulating the skull bone marrow”
  • Marwa Mikati (Neuroscience Program; Al-Hasani lab, University of Health Sciences & Pharmacy)
    “Investigating the role of T-cells during opioid exposure and withdrawal”
  • Xiaodan Wang (Biomedical Engineering Program; Bauer lab, Radiology)
    “Mapping interactions between parvalbumin inhibitory neurons and excitatory neurons over the cortex”

Poster Finalists

  • Roselyne Chauvin, PhD (Dosenbach lab, Neurology)
    “Spontaneous plasticity pulses associated with both disuse and overuse”
  • Dezhuang Ye, PhD (Chen lab, Biomedical Engineering)
    “Incisionless targeted adeno-associated viral vector delivery to the brain by focused ultrasound-mediated intranasal administration”
  • Rohini Ople, PhD (Majumdar lab, University of Health Sciences & Pharmacy)
    “Structure based approaches on fentanyl template to design novel mu opioid modulators”
  • Anupama Tiwari, PhD (Ashrafi lab, Cell Biology & Physiology)
    “The role of mitochondrial Sirtuin 3 in the metabolic plasticity of synaptic transmission”
  • Robert Wong (Electrical Engineering Program; Goodhill lab, Developmental Biology)
    “Encoding of visual information in zebrafish brain”

Thanks to faculty members who served as judges for the short talks and the posters, and to the McDonnell Center for Systems Neuroscience and the McDonnell Center for Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology for making the awards possible.

Previous winners of Thach Awards


  • Short talks: Zelun Wang (Neuroscience Program; Williams and Apte labs, Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences)
    “Energetic diversity of retinal ganglion cells and implications for neurodegeneration”
  • Posters: Keran Yang (Neuroscience Program; Kepecs lab, Neuroscience)
    “Context and location regulate the effects of optogenetic stimulation of the superior colliculus”


  • Short talks: Ryan Raut (Neuroscience Program; Raichle lab, Radiology)
    “Brain state evolves along a spatiotemporal cycle”
  • Posters: Yifan Wu (Neuroscience Program; Papouin lab, Neuroscience)
    “Uncovering the role of astrocytic a7nAChR in cognitive behaviors”


  • 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, Anesthesiology)
    “Dissecting the role of dorsal hippocampus in reinstatement of drug seeking behavior”


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


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


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


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


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