2019 FABBS Early Career Impact Award

Congratulations to Julie Golomb, the VSS nominee and recipient of the 2019 Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS) Early Career Impact Award.

The FABBS Early Career Impact Award honors early career scientists of FABBS member societies during the first 10 years post-PhD and recognizes scientists who have made major contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior. The goal is to enhance public visibility of these sciences and the particular research through the dissemination efforts of the FABBS in collaboration with the member societies and award winners.

Julie Golomb

Associate Professor
Ohio State University

Julie Golomb earned her bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Brandeis University and her doctorate from Yale University. She completed post-doctoral research at MIT before joining the faculty at Ohio State in 2012 and receiving tenure in 2018. Her lab’s research is funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Ohio Supercomputer Center. For more information about Dr. Golomb and an overview of her article, go to Making Sense from Dots of Light on the FABBS website.

Making Sense from Dots of Light

For Julie Golomb, it all started with a college course in visual perception. “I realized that all of these things I take for granted about how I perceive the world are actually really hard challenges for the brain to solve.”
How do we recognize our coffee mug? How do we pick out a friend’s face in the crowd? Or know that the round, white and black thing flying at us is, in fact, a soccer ball?
This constant bombardment of rich and usually moving pictures start out simply as dots of light hitting different spots on the retina.
Those dots create a map of where things are in the world before heading to the brain, where the deep processing takes place that Golomb studies in her lab.
While the brain is busy almost instantaneously processing incoming data, the world outside is continuously moving and changing, as are our eyes–an emphasis in Golomb’s lab.
In one experiment, Golomb may ask volunteers to determine whether two objects that appear on a computer monitor are the same shape. “Or we’ll flash a bunch of different objects on the screen and then ask, ‘What color was presented in a certain location?’”
Among interesting findings: When asked to pay attention to two squares of different colors, such as red and blue, volunteers might mistakenly describe one of the colors afterward as purple.
“The brain has a hard job, and it does a remarkable job,” Golomb says. “But it is not perfect.” A lot of learning about the brain is based on its mistakes.
Golomb also asks volunteers to complete tasks while connected to tools such as functional MRI, which images their brain, or an EEG machine, which records electrical activity on the scalp. She uses sophisticated computer models to analyze how the brains are processing information.
As the technology changes and develops, so do the possibilities with brain research. And it’s not just new equipment. “We’re asking better questions and new questions based on what we’re continually learning.”

FABBS February 15, 2019 Newsletter


Deal Reached to Keep Government Open; Administration FY 2020 Budget Request Delayed

At press time, a budget deal to avoid another partial shutdown awaited the President’s signature. The conference report provides budgets for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2019 to nine departments and dozens of agencies, including the National Science Foundation (NSF). The bill would give $8.075 billion to NSF, a $308 million increase from FY 2018, reflecting $6.52 billion for research and related activities and $910 million for the Education and Human Resources Directorate.

During the uncertainty leading up to the budget deal, FABBS joined nobel laureates and science community leaders on a letter to Members of Congress and the President. The letter explained how the shutdown harmed the American scientific enterprise.

Congress will turn their attention to the FY 2020 budget and will once again be facing budget caps, according to a 2011 deficit reduction law. Since the Budget Control Act of 2011, Congress has waited until the very last minute before coming to bipartisan agreements to raise the caps. In the absence of an agreement, Congress will face spending cuts of $126 billion from this year’s levels.


The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health has issued a request for information to gather broad public input on a revised definition of behavioral and social science research. The definition is used to assess and monitor NIH support of the behavioral and social sciences across all NIH Institutes and Centers. Comments must be submitted through IdeaScale by February 22, 2019.

NSF Announces Substantial Funding Opportunities Relevant to SBE Scientists

There are new funding opportunities at NSF for behavioral and brain sciences. They are called the “Big Ideas” and they focus on critical issues in science and society. The purpose of each Big Idea is to motivate dynamic and innovative scholars to create and implement new and potentially transformative interdisciplinary approaches to some very large societal challenges. See letter from NSF Associate Director of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arthur “Skip” Lupia here.

Joanne Tornow to Lead Biological Sciences Directorate

Dr. Tornow has served with NSF for nearly two decades, including two years as deputy assistant director for NSF’s Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences directorate (SBE); and a year as acting head of SBE. This past year she led BIO in an acting capacity Her work at NSF has included supporting cross-disciplinary, convergent research that draws on the strengths of scientists and engineers across multiple fields to solve problems.

FABBS joins community sign-on letter urging the Education Department to use research and evidence to inform Title IX Sexual Harassment Regulations

Led by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the American Educational Research Association (AERA), FABBS joined 72 scientific societies to submit comments to the U.S. Department of Education’s proposed changes to Title IX regulations.

Title IX is the federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive federal funding. In November, the Education Department issued draft changes to Title IX that would narrowly redefine sexual harassment and restrict the processes at U.S. schools and colleges for reporting and responding to charges of sexual harassment.

FABBS President, Nora Newcombe, said “The potential rollback of Title IX protections for women has serious implications for science and is of concern to us all. These comments are based on evidence and aim to create safe and productive environments for scientific discovery. FABBS appreciates the opportunity to take a stand to support our female colleagues and the women who we teach and train.”

The comments submitted by the scientific societies today emphasize three major concerns and cite relevant research:

  • The Definition of Harassment Has Been Narrowed at Odds with the Intent of Title IX
  • The Circumstances Under Which Title IX Applies Are Too Restrictive
  • The Notice Requirements Are Too Restrictive



Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS)

In 2018, VSS became a member of the Federation of Associations in Behavioral & Brain Sciences (FABBS).

FABBS is a coalition of scientific societies that share an interest in developing knowledge for the betterment of society by advancing the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior. FABBS represents the interests of its scientific societies by

  • Educating federal representatives and Congress about the importance of research in the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior
  • Advocating for legislation and policy that enhance training and research
  • Providing sources of expertise and knowledge to federal agencies, Congress, and the media
  • Encouraging the sound use of science in the creation of public policy
  • Fostering effective interaction between agencies and organizations that fund research and the community of scientists and scientific societies
  • Facilitating information exchange among constituent societies as well as other scientific organizations

To read the latest FABBS news or sign up to receive the FABBS newletter, please see the FABBS News page.
If you have questions about US science policy or funding, please feel free to send an email to or contact VSS President Eileen Kowler (