Have a drink and chat about neuroscience

Last year six ZNZ Ph.D. students started their own seminar series called “ZNZ Science and Drinks”. This initiative aims to foster connections among ZNZ students while providing a relaxed and interactive platform to explore a diverse range of neuroscience research topics. In our interview, we had the pleasure of speaking with Alina Marinescu, the initiator behind this seminar series, to learn more about its origins and objectives.

Hi Alina, you initiated the “Science & Drinks Seminar”. Could you tell us about it and how it all started?

Sure! As the only neuroscience Ph.D. student in a non-neuroscience lab on the ETH Schwerzenbach Campus, I felt somewhat isolated regarding scientific connections. I wanted to organize a seminar where fellow neuroscience students and ZNZ members could meet and connect, even after work hours. During the ZNZ Ph.D. retreat last November, I realized many other P students were also interested in more social events. So, I proposed a seminar series that would take place in a relaxed setting, after work, with the added bonus of having a drink. Five other Ph.D. students, Arthur Levasseur, Nasrin Bollmohr, Beatriz Achon Buil, Vladyslav Korobeynyk, and Lennart C. Neumann, joined me in organizing the series. Our goal is to offer these events to ZNZ members and students, providing an opportunity to socialize, explore different research topics, exchange ideas and spark collaborations.

That sounds great! What sets your seminar series apart from the usual seminars?

Our seminar series has a different format and atmosphere. We alternate between two different setups: two talks by Ph.D. students or postdocs lasting between 10 to 20 minutes, followed by a brainstorming discussion, or we invite two guest speakers for an interview on a relevant topic.

Who can give a talk at your seminars?

We welcome anyone to give a talk, and we’re not necessarily looking for polished or already published projects. The main aim is to foster learning, discussion, and exploration of various neuroscience topics that challenge our comfort zones. The atmosphere is relaxed, and everyone is encouraged to participate actively in the discussions. You can find more information on our flyer.

Has there been a particular seminar that got stuck in your memory?

Interviewing Prof. Francesca Peri and Dr. Shuting Han on their experiences as “women in science” was truly eye-opening. The discussion with the audience was quite intense, and Nasrin Bollmohr, our moderator, did a fantastic job. Another seminar that proved to be highly useful in our lives was the one with Prof. Fritjof Helmchen and Dr. Marie Labouesse on “how to start and run a lab.” The topics covered in our seminars are quite diverse, ranging from how human breast milk affects neural activation to virtual reality applications, the neural basis of emotions, and even robot psychology. We are constantly amazed by the variety of topics presented by ZNZ members and the stimulating ideas that emerge during the discussions.

And lastly, but certainly not least, what kind of drinks are served during your seminars?

We offer a range of beverages, including beer, wine, Coke, and Rivella. As summer approaches, we might even prepare a fruit punch for our seminar in June, available in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic options. Cheers, and we hope to see you there!

Next ZNZ Science & Drinks seminar

When: Monday, 26th of June, 18.30h
Where: Campus Irchel, Y-55-L-12