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By Qian Han, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient

Photo from Cyber Week 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel

Cyber Week is a large annual international cybersecurity event, hosted each year at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Over the past eight years, Cyber Week has become internationally acclaimed as one of the top cyber-security events in the world. Cyber Week offers a unique gathering of cyber-security experts, industry leaders, startups, investors, academics, diplomats, and government officials. With more than 8,000 attendees from more than 80 countries, this conference offers a thought-provoking exchange of knowledge, methods, and ideas. This year, I was lucky enough to present Dartmouth College to attend the conference and present my idea.

My poster was titled "Disclose or Exploit? A Game-Theoretic Approach to Strategic Decision Making in Cyber Warfare". Our work provides a novel algorithm which formulates the cyber competition between countries as a repeated cyber warfare game. We define the equilibrium state of the repeated cyber warfare game as a pure strategy Nash equilibrium. Furthermore, our DiscX prototype system that can help support government decision-makers in their decision about whether to disclose or exploit a vulnerability that they find immediately.

Attending Cyber Week 2019 was a valuable and memorable experience for the development of my graduate career, as it was my first time to present my work at Dartmouth in such a mainstream conference. I explored a lot about the real world cybersecurity research status and progress outside my field, exchanged exciting ideas with world-well-known experts, and obtained feedbacks that may guide the future direction of our project. I am extremely delighted for the financial support provided by the Graduate Student Council Student Support Fund.

Interested in learning more about how to get your travel expenses covered? Check out our student professional development support fund and our conference travel grant here.

By the 2018-2019 GSC Student Life Committee

Dear Graduate Student,

The Graduate Student Resource Guide is a document compiled by a group of current graduate student representatives on the Graduate Student Council. Our goal for the guide is to provide graduate students with a single accessible document that covers the resources available to them for various situations that may arise during their time at Dartmouth. We include concise information on each resource listed as well as a "roadmap" that shows the paths a student can choose from when seeking help from a resource. It is our hope that these roadmaps will allow students to choose the path most comfortable to them and supportive to their case. Although we worked to be as thorough as possible, the guide is not a comprehensive list of all of the obstacles faced in graduate student life. We encourage feedback on this document so we can make it more inclusive for our fellow graduate students.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact the Student Life Committee (!


By Jin Hyun Cheong, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient

Photo from 2019 Affective Computing and Intelligent Interactions in Cambridge, United Kingdom

From September 3rd to 6th, 2019, I attended the 8th International Conference on Affective Computing & Intelligent Interactions (ACII 2019) in Cambridge, United Kingdom with the generous support from the Dartmouth Graduate Student Council. I am accustomed to attending psychology or neuroscience conferences but this was my first time attending ACII 2019 which is primarily an engineering and computer science oriented conference. Nevertheless, topics in affective computing span multiple disciplines including psychology, neuroscience, human computer interactions (HCI), and computer science, and I was delighted to be able to offer a perspective from social psychology and present my poster on "Shared experiences increase social connection".

Before I elaborate on the exciting research presented at the conference, I would like to mention a couple of organizational and structural differences I found exciting between ACII and other psychology/neuroscience conferences. First of all, I was pleasantly surprised by the openness of the organizational committee and the open discussion processes during the town hall meeting. The town hall covered many topics including co-location (organizing the conference near the date of another conference in the same city to reduce environmental costs), diversity, inclusivity, and budgeting (popularity of allocating increased budget for open-access publications). I don't know if other engineering conferences are alike, but I was fascinated by the openness of the organizers and the participation by the attendees to help steer the conference community in a better direction and would love to see more similar discussions held at psychology and neuroscience conferences.

There were numerous inspiring and cutting edge research presented at the conference but here are a few that I'd like to share in brief. Lisa Feldman Barret (Northeaster Univ) presented her keynote titled "Can Machines perceive Emotion?" and sparked interesting discussions on how visual emotion recognition systems are recognizing stereotypic displays of emotions but not how the subject is actually feeling. I think it is good that she is raising awareness of this issue, especially since the public may not be immediately aware that results from affective computing algorithms must be considered with the concept of probability. Just because someone smiles, triggering a facial emotion detection algorithm to spit out that the person seems happy, does not necessarily mean that the person is truly happy albeit there might be a good possibility that she is. What's important is that the context also needs to be considered to improve the detection of how one is truly feeling. Rosalind Picard (MIT) also led a panel discussion regarding ethics related to affective computing to talk about what scientists can do to perhaps make sure that their tools and algorithms do not fall into the wrong hands while still advocating open science. I learned about License AI ( by Daniel McDuff (Microsoft Research) for the first time which empowers developers with more control over how their code is used restricting domains such as surveillance or criminal justice. It was great to know that these types of discussions accompany the research done in this community.

I really enjoyed the workshop on emotions and emergent states in groups, which hosted many research from Hayley Hung's group at Technical University of Delft in the Netherlands. I learned about new concepts such as f-formations (Kendon, 1990, which can be used to detect groups of interacting individuals in an open interaction environment and how they can be used to predict social relationship development. Moreover, she presented results from measuring team cohesion over time using longitudinal paradigms and mobile wearable sensors and how they can be predicted by turn taking and mimicry. Work by Nale Lehmann-Willenbrock (U of Hamburg) also extended these results by looking at how humor dynamics (how it is presented, received, and reciprocated) during real company meetings affect the performance of groups. On the other hand, there were also interesting talks from the neuroscience community including Desmond Ong's (Singapore Univ) talk about how verbal, vocal, and visual cues differentially contribute to predicting emotion in storytelling and by Phil Kragel (U of Colorado Boulder) who showed emotion categories can be decoded by the visual cortex of the brain in response to images suggesting that there are sensory features in image stimuli that allow some decoding into what the emotional experience might be in response to the image.

Lastly, there were demo sessions which included EEG-triggered camera apps, online tool for annotating videos (, a human-like robot programmed with social signals inspired by psychology research (, and Kinect depth cameras to visualize poses which turns out to be presented by my personal affective computing hero Tadas Baltrusaitis who developed OpenFace (

All in all, I had a great time at ACII 2019 and am already looking forward to attending again in 2021 in Nara, Japan. I was deeply inspired by so many things at ACII including the research, the people, and the community that I hope to share with the psychology and neuroscience community. I hope this post can be helpful to those who may not have been able to attend or to others who might have not known about ACII. Once again, I am thankful that the Graduate Student Council at Dartmouth supported this trip.

Interested in learning more about how to get your travel expenses covered? Check out our student professional development support fund and our conference travel grant here.

By Ashley Lang, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient

Photo from 2019 Annual Meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Louisville, Kentucky.

This August, I had the opportunity to give my first research talk at a conference in my field at the annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America in Louisville, KY. As a PhD candidate entering my last year at Dartmouth, I saw this meeting as a chance not only to practice effectively presenting my research, but to make contact with potential post-doctoral advisors. The meeting was large, with about 2,000 presentations spread out over five days. Despite the breadth of these topics, I was able to find sessions filled with talks related to my research on soil microbial ecology and biogeochemistry, and learned some exciting new things about the functional ecology of my study system. Some of the most interesting presentations focused on understanding how microbial diversity and function affect important carbon cycling processes, a topic that has been the center of many research programs in recent years. I presented a project on this topic—relating the community of mycorrhizal fungi in forest soils with leaf litter decomposition—at a morning session on the fourth day of the conference which was focused on “linking community structure and ecosystem function.”

I also met with a potential post-doctoral advisor to discuss a grant proposal we are preparing for a NSF post-doctoral fellowship. It was great to touch base in person and iron out specifics of a project that we are actively designing to move my studies forward into the next wave of critical topics in soil carbon research. I also had the opportunity to attend a session on the last morning of the conference that has stimulated a new interest in using publically available ecological data from the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON). The session described various projects other researchers are doing with NEON data, and I subsequently have decided to use these data for my post-doctoral fellowship proposal as well. They provide an excellent jumping-off point for some really interesting questions in soil and microbial ecology that are made much more tractable by the spatially broad NEON data set.

Overall, my experiences at ESA this year were rewarding and fulfilling. I feel much more confident in presenting my research, and I learned so many new things that have influenced my thinking about my current work and ideas for future research I’d love to do. I am extremely grateful to the Graduate Student Council for funding this trip through the GSC travel grant.

Interested in learning more about how to get your travel expenses covered? Check out our student professional development support fund and our conference travel grant here.

By Jin Hyun Cheong, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient

Photo from 2019 Kavli Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of California at Santa Barbara

With the generous support from the Dartmouth Graduate Student Council (GSC), I was able to attend the 2019 Kavli Summer Institute in Cognitive Neuroscience (a.k.a. Brain Camp) hosted at University of California at Santa Barbara. The summer program lasted for two weeks with each week focusing on different themes. The first week was directed by Dani Bassett (U Penn) and Jörn Diedrichsen (U of Western Ontario) and focused on "Intersections Between Neural Representations and Network Models." The second week was directed by Leah Somerville (Harvard U) and Luke Chang (Dartmouth College) and focused on the "Computational Social Neuroscience: Advances, Challenges, and New Directions." Approximately 70 or so fellows attended the conference from around the world.

Amongst the numerous talks, the very first experience that stood out were the human neuroanatomy labs and the neuropathology video sessions led by Robert (Bob) Knight (UC Berkeley) and Robert (Bob) Rafal (U Delaware). I've been through multiple Neuroanatomy and Psychology classes but these duo put up a class that was far more informative and interesting than any other. Especially with their long careers in Neurology, the descriptions of the pathology really came to life while they showed videos of patients showing various symptom that they themselves tested to localize the neuroanatomical sites responsible for the problems. In addition to the neuropathology lectures, talks on representations generally hovered around the notion of studying visual representations in the brain by comparing them to layers in the deep convolutional neural networks using encoding models, decoding models, and representational similarity analyses. Talks with network models discussed the application of network and topology theories on analyzing functional and anatomical connectivity of brain regions and their insights into the organization and functioning of the brain.

The second week, notable talks included those from Read Montague (Virginia Tech), Daniela Schiller (Mt Sinai), Steve Chang (Yale U), Molly Crocket (Yale), and Matthew Apps (U Oxford). I particularly enjoyed the moral neuroscience talks that tried to model how we make decisions about whether to help others. For example, Molly Crockett shared with us a paradigm in which participants had to decide between two options which had different ratios between an electric shock and a monetary gain. The basic finding was that most people would require a greater ratio or shock to dollars than for the self ($2/shock for self but $4/shock for other). These behavior were accompanied by neural activity such that the striatum activity increased more for selfish choices while the lateral prefrontal activity encoded the conflict of a moral choice such that it was most activated when inflicting pain yielded minimal profit. Moreover, the connectivity between the lateral prefrontal cortex and the dorsolateral striatum was modulated by whether the individual was making selfish or kind decisions. The correlation between the two regions increased when participants were making harmful or nonsocial choices. I thought that research like these could be developed further in the future by looking at more naturalistic moral decisions which would provide a more ecologically valid and comprehensive model of moral decisions.

In addition to the academic lectures, I engaged in multiple conversations about inclusivity, diversity, and creating a safe and sustainable work environment in academia. Learning about policies implemented in other institutions such as having a graduate student in hiring committees, mandatory secondary advisors, graduate student unions, and health & dental insurances seemed to give a sense that there are modular burgeoning movements in the right direction although we are far from a global change. We talked about how misconducts in both academic and in advisor-advisee relations should be considered in grant and faculty tenure decisions such that faculty who exploit graduate students for their private gains or personal careers should be exposed and criticized. As a personal endeavor to contribute to this movement, I began working on a website through which graduate students both current and former can write about and review their advisors. Although institutional level implementations would be most effective and ideal, it is unclear when, if ever, such measures would be implemented especially when there are no real benefits for the institutions. Therefore, I think that the notion of being socially evaluated could be a beginning to start motivating faculty to improve how they are not just as scientists but also as good advisors.

Overall, I had a really exciting time at the Brain Camp 2019. I was not only able to get to know the fellows and the faculty at the academic level but also at a personal level by hanging out with them and talking about both science and not science related topics on the beach. I feel like I have made great connections and colleagues that will last throughout my career. I am once again deeply thankful to the Dartmouth GSC Student Professional Development Support Fund to help me attend the institute.

Interested in learning more about how to get your travel expenses covered? Check out our student professional development support fund and our conference travel grant here.

By Emily Sullivan, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient

Emily with her poster at the 2019 OSSD meeting in Washington, D.C.

Warm, sunny Washington D.C. was the backdrop as scientists, clinicians, and policymakers from around the world gathered for four action-packed days of sharing science and networking at the 2019 meeting for the Organization for the Study of Sex Differences (OSSD). Originally founded through the Society for Women’s Health Research (SWHR) in 2006, OSSD is now an independent non-profit educational organization which aims to facilitate interdisciplinary research and promote the field of sex/gender differences research through education, mentoring, and outreach.

The opening Sunday morning session was hosted by representatives from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH), who described key policies and programs overseen by the office. After illustrating the actions that ORWH has taken in terms of strengthening research on health conditions that affect women and the organization’s work in developing opportunities for women in biomedical careers, there was time for participant questions and discussion. Dr. Janine Clayton, Director of ORWH, set the tone for the 2019 OSSD meeting by stating - “Society needs science. Science needs women”. The mornings and the afternoons of OSSD were filled with parallel sessions in which the organizers had lined up a diverse set of talks ranging from transplacental signals to sex differences in clinical treatment of opioid use disorders. The evenings of the first two days were filled with poster sessions held in two conference rooms with many rows of posters – eager graduate students (myself included), postdoctoral students, and professors gathered, excited to share with colleagues our findings.

What I found remarkable about OSSD was the multiple trainee events. For instance, the Trainee-Mentor Lunch held on the third day of the conference sought to bring together doctoral students and postdocs with experts to discuss a number of timely subjects. Trainees had the opportunity to choose from 11 different tables and six different topics including “Dealing with toxic environments and harassment in the early career”, “A career in Academia as a woman in science”, and “Writing sex differences without sexism”. Having the occasion to ask experts their opinion, hearing them share stories, and learning how they navigated difficult situations, was an invaluable experience. The Trainee-Mentor lunch was followed by an optional educational event entitled “Ally Skills: How to Stand up and Step In” which was hosted by the charismatic Dr. Sherry Marts, President and CEO of S*Marts Consulting LLC. Dr. Marts defined and discussed diversity and inclusion and led the attendees in an activity in which we had to deliberate how to handle the problematic scenario we were provided. Since this was an optional event, I was utterly amazed by the number of people who attended and participated in the workshop (especially given the beautiful weather and the proximity of the conference center to many of the D.C. monuments and museums!).

The final awards reception began with a capstone lecture by the renowned Dr. Joan Roughgarden. In her captivating talk, “The Gender Binary in Nature, Across Human Cultures, and in the Bible”, Dr. Roughgarden provided evidence of the extensive variation in gender expression and sexuality found in the animal kingdom. She presented examples of how nature provides support neither for universal distinction between male and female categories nor universal existence of two fixed genders within species. Thus, these examples challenge the traditional Darwinian biological explanations of animal behavior. Dr. Roughgarden delved into human gender expression and sexual orientation among people in all cultures throughout the world. She concluded her riveting talk with specific examples located in the Bible containing references to variation in gender expression and sexuality to promote full inclusion of gender-variant people. Following Dr. Roughgarden’s talk and the presentation of awards, the night continued with a jazz band and delicious food.

In a field that has been traditionally dominated by men, it was wonderfully refreshing to attend a conference held by incredibly intelligent and successful women. Meeting these women who can make such a profound impact on academia, industry, and policy was thoroughly inspirational. I highly recommend attending the annual OSSD conference to any person who researches sex/gender differences, and I honestly cannot wait for the 2020 OSSD meeting which will be held in the charming Marina del Rey, CA!

Interested in learning more about how to get your travel expenses covered? Check out our student professional development support fund and our conference travel grant here.

By Jin Hyun Cheong, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient

Jin Hyun Cheong at his poster at the 2019 Social and Affective Neuroscience Society Annual Conference in Miami, Florida.

With the generous support from the Dartmouth Graduate Student Council (GSC), I was able to attend the 2019 Social and Affective Neuroscience Society (SANS) annual conference in Miami, Florida. At the conference, I was able to present my poster "Transmission of placebo effects via social interaction" as well as listen to prominent speakers including Nancy Kanwisher, Jamil Zaki, Michael Tomasello, Frans de Waal, and many more.

Among the many inspiring talks and posters I'd like to share few results that I found particularly interesting. I really enjoyed the talk by Michael Tomasello who presented the uniqueness of humans (compared the chimpanzees) in their understanding and development of social norms and social collaboration. Children as young as 2 years old understand "co-labor" in which each individual must perform their part for the group to complete a task. In addition, everyone seems to understand "equality" of labor as they tend to equally split the spoils of the task. This is in contrast to chimpanzee behavior in which the dominant chimpanzee takes all the spoils. I found this intriguing but at the same time also thought about how the children acquired such notions of fairness and cooperation. Tomasello seemed to allude that these were innate functions that were embedded from our evolutionary process but I couldn't help but think whether parenting reinforces these behaviors very early on.

I also enjoyed the flash talk by Eliska Prochazkova (Leiden university) who shared results from a speed dating paradigm in which a female and male participant talk to each other for a total of about 6 minutes while they tracked physiological responses (heart rate, electrodermal activity), eye gaze, and facial expressions. They found that males tend to fixate more at the partner's face and body more than females while females were more likely to fixate at the backgrounds as if they were avoiding eye contact. They also found that arousal synchrony measured by skin conductance was the only measure that predicted attraction between individuals. However, I think this approach might be limited especially concerning the short duration of the task as our previous findings indicate the interpersonal connection develops over longer periods of time.

Talk by Frans de Waal was also amazing who spoke about the amazing ability of chimpanzees in their cooperative, social, and emotion communication behavior. He presented many compelling evidence for their ability to understand fairness, including the viral video of an angered monkey who throws a cucumber at the experimenter when his friend in the next cell receives a sweet grape instead ( I also found it quite interesting that his studies suggested a more advanced and complex social behavior for animals than was originally suggested by the previous speaker Mark Tomasello.

I would like to thank the GSC once again for their funding which made my visit possible and highly recommend checking out next year's SANS conference, which will be held in Santa Barbara, CA, if your research involves a social, affective, or neural component.

Interested in learning more about how to get your travel expenses covered? Check out our student professional development support fund and our conference travel grant here.

By Briana Krewson, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient

Dr. Paul Bataldan (left) and Dr. Joanne Conroy (right)

The US healthcare system is, at the end of the day, a business. Because of this, there is a belief that patients feel more like statistics than individuals, and doctors seems to be driven more by profit than morals. The idea of quality improvement in healthcare is to fix all the small, broken parts of the healthcare system to make it workable and functional for both patients and providers.

I had the privilege of attending Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s conference called “Health Care Quality Conference: Tools and Takeaway for Your Journey” with the help of the Dartmouth Graduate Student Council. The conference was 7:00AM - 4:30 PM on a Saturday, and I was one of the youngest people in attendance.

The conference was geared toward DH employees, healthcare organization managers, and really anyone who wanted to learn about better managing workspace operations, encouraging QI projects, and co-producing healthcare. As a public health student at The Dartmouth Institute, I fit right in.

The conference opened with Robert Shumsky, PhD and Professor at Tuck School of Business. He presented on operations and patient flow by doing a simple, hands-on activity. Each row of conference attendees acted as a hospital unit, and the object was to move as many patients through your hospital as possible. Each participant in the row had to draw six smiley faces on an index card before passing it to their left for the next person to add six more smiley faces. By the end of the row, the card was filled up of all sorts of shapes and sizes of smileys, and placed down as “complete”. Every time the first person in the row passed their card to the left, they picked up another blank card, pulling in as many “patients” into the system as possible. The quality of the smileys did not matter too much; the speed of getting the cards complete was the priority. We were were smiling and laughing at the lightness at the activity, while Professor Shumsky amicably sprinted around the room counting stacks of cards to determine an average.

After that first two-minutes, Professor Shumsky altered the activity, so that each person now had to draw the number of smiley faces of their birth month. My birth month is May, so I only had to draw five smileys. Others in my row were born in November and December, meaning they had a lot more work to do compared to January and February babies. I found myself waiting for cards, feeling pressure and impatience in watching them work, knowing I was not permitted to help them draw, and simply had to wait. The process slowed down and we had significantly less patients successfully compete the system (less completed cards).

Shumsky used the activity to demonstrate Little’s Law, saying that based on our WIP (average number of items in the system) and throughput (average arrival and departure rate) from our first round to the second round, our overall lead time (time of item in the system) went up, so the patients had to stay within the hospital a lot longer.

In the afternoon, Paul Bataldan, MD, a world-famous doctor and professor of quality improvement in healthcare, presented on co-production in healthcare in his chat with DHMC’s CEO Joanne Conroy. Coproduction is the idea that patients should have a primary role in their healthcare, so that providers and healthcare teams are not the only ones make decisions about care plans. Dr. Bataldan stated that we cannot “outsource” or “delegate” our health, that we need to change healthcare culture in America so that patients take the driver’s seat and are active and comfortable in engaging and leading their treatment plans. The patients are, after all, the experts in their individual health statuses. Dr. Bataldan emphasized the idea of patient-centered care in coproduction; physicians should be asking patients what “what matters to you” instead of “what is the matter with you”.

This conference was a great complement to my TDI education and coursework in QI. I have been working this term on understanding microsystems and how QI projects work similarly and differently on the macro and micro system levels. I am honored that I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Bataldan speak, and I am excited to think more about design of operations within healthcare. I am grateful for the Dartmouth Graduate Student Council’s assistance with my engagement in this opportunity!

Interested in learning more about how to get your travel expenses covered? Check out our student professional development support fund and our conference travel grant here.

By Hung-Tu Chen, Student Professional Development Support Fund Recipient

Hung-Tu with his poster at the 2019 CoSyNe conference.

CoSyNe is major conference for the exchange of experimental and theoretical/computational approaches to problems in systems neuroscience. This year, the conference was held in in Lisbon, Portugal. Due to a record-high number of applications this year, only a subset of abstracts are selected. Fortunately, I was able to attend and present at this conference.

My poster was titled "Between-
subject prediction reveals a shared representational
geometry in the rodent hippocampus". Our work provides a novel computational analysis to investigate the latent structure shared across subjects using electrophysiological neural data.

Going to CoSyNe 2019 was a valuable experience for my development of graduate career as it was my first time to present my work in Dartmouth in a major conference. I learned a lot about research outside my field, exchanged exciting ideas with other neuroscientists, and obtained feedbacks that may help to explain why our method works and guide the future direction of this project. I am extremely grateful for the financial support provided by the Graduate Student Council Student Support Fund.

Interested in learning more about how to get your travel expenses covered? Check out our student professional development support fund and our conference travel grant here.

By Ashley Wells, President of the Dartmouth Writers Society

The Dartmouth Writers Society provides an opportunity for graduate students to foster their literary skills and interests!

The Dartmouth Writers Society (DWS) is a GSC sponsored organization that is dedicated to the literary pursuits of graduate students on campus. We are a community of writers who aim to provide constructive feedback to our fellow wordsmiths.

Our organization includes workshops, writing prompts, and targeted discussions which aim to stimulate impactful writing. All genres, topics, and forms of creative writing are welcome. If you are looking for a way to relax and spend a fun evening thinking about all things related to words, the Dartmouth Writers Society is the place to be.

DWS holds bi-weekly meetings every other Friday from 5 pm-6:30 pm in the Baker Library. We also held our first annual Lit(erary) Night this past July. Here, we invited graduate students and alum to read their creative works in front of the graduate student community. We will be holding more events in the future that we hope will continue to assist in establishing the literary community on the Dartmouth campus.

We are always looking for new members who are passionate about writing and critique. Find us at our facebook page:, or reach out to us at to be added to our listserve.

Would you like to advertise your graduate organization on the GSC Blog? Submit a blog post here