Congratulations to the Winners of the 2nd Annual Lions Talk Science Blog Award!

The judges’ scores have been tabulated, and we’re thrilled to announce the winners of our annual writing competition!

1st Place: Sadie Steffens – “What is 6 Weeks Worth? The Cost of Cancer Drugs and Extending Life”
2nd Place: Dan Hass – “Where in the Brain Does Deception Lie?”
3rd Place: Lina Jamis – “The Immersive World of Virtual Reality: Why VR is the Ultimate Neuroscience Experiment”

trophy-83115_640All of the entries were of incredibly high quality, and scores were VERY close! Entries were judged based on adherence to the theme, writing quality, scientific accuracy, and appropriateness for readers of the general public.

Thanks to everyone for participating. We’ll be back with a shiny new prompt next year!

We’d also like to extend a huge thanks to Dr. Michael Verderame, Kathy Simon, Kristin Smith, and Jordan Gaines Lewis for judging the competition this year.

Where in the Brain Does Deception Lie?


Santa’s favorite reindeer is Rudolph, of course. Source: Jonathan G. Meath (Wikimedia Commons)

By: Dan Hass, 2nd year PhD candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Program

When my 8-year old niece asks me what Santa Claus’s favorite reindeer is, I do not tell her that Santa does not actually exist. I try to keep her as happy as possible, and I tell a white lie.

Lying is not an uncommon phenomenon. It is estimated that, on average, Americans lie 1.65 times daily.

While most of these are white lies, a study in the United Kingdom found that approximately one out of every two people tells a self-defined ‘big lie’ every day. Although these data are not evenly distributed (a few people who lie a lot may skew the statistics), deception is a part of our every day life [1].

Continue reading

What is 6 Weeks Worth? The Cost of Cancer Drugs and Extending Life

By: Sadie Steffens, 4th year PhD candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program


Source: PDPics (Pixabay)

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way.

Second only to heart disease as the leading cause of death, many of us have friends or loved ones who have suffered from cancer. News reports with big claims about novel cancer treatments give us hope, and we have a strong desire to eradicate the disease. We want to believe that a cure is imminent, possibly even in our own lifetime.

Although we don’t discuss it much as a society, cancer affects more than our emotions. We are all paying the financial costs of cancer, costs that are escalating so quickly that they will soon be unsustainable. I’m talking about the cost of cancer drugs. Continue reading

The Immersive World of Virtual Reality: Why VR is the Ultimate Neuroscience Experiment

By: Lina Jamis, 2nd year student in the Anatomy Graduate Program


A virtual reality headset. Source: Maurizio Pesce (Flickr)

The promise of virtual reality has always been an enticing one—slip on this headset and escape to a new place, without ever stepping foot outside of the room.

It’s an experience so unusual, and yet so familiar, as it hijacks our own senses to provide the qualities we might find in reality, but within the confines of the mind. Not only can virtual reality (VR) serve as a powerful medium for gaming and storytelling, but it may ultimately give us further insight into sensorimotor neuroscience and how to use this knowledge to create visually convincing worlds. Continue reading

2nd Annual Lions Talk Science Blog Award: Accepting Submissions Now!

cup-160117_640Why is tanning dangerous? How does color perception differ between men and women? How do our brains filter out unimportant information, like the sound of the air conditioner whirring?

These are just a few of our students’ most recent posts that inspired this year’s award theme. In celebration of the blog’s 2nd birthday (today!), we’re thrilled to announce the 2nd Annual Lions Talk Science Blog Award.

This year’s theme is: how science impacts our daily lives.

The details:

  • Your blog post must adhere to the theme. Your topic does not need to be related to your own research.
  • Keyboard_typingThe target audience for your blog should be the local Hershey community; assume a high school education or less, and keep the piece a reasonable length (400-600 words).
  • Submissions are due on Monday, May 18. Please e-mail your entries in Word format to with the subject line “Blog Award Submission.” If you have not previously submitted to the blog, please also include an image of yourself and a short bio for our Contributors page.

Prizes and certificates will be awarded to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in the amount of $50, $25, or $10 to the Penn State bookstore or Starbucks (your choice).

Our panel of judges includes:

  1. Dr. Michael Verderame, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies
  2. Dr. Kirsteen Browning, Associate Professor of Neural and Behavioral Sciences
  3. Kathy Simon, Director of Graduate Student Affairs
  4. Kristin Smith, Director of Admissions, Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program
  5. Jordan Gaines Lewis, Lions Talk Science Editor-in-Chief

Please contact with any questions. Note: at this time, the contest is only open to Penn State College of Medicine graduate students. Whether you’ve written for us in the past or just discovered our blog, we welcome all students to consider submitting!

Happy writing!