Barbara Chapman Young Investigator Award

At the Ferret Brain Meeting, we honor the life and career of Barbara Chapman by presenting the Barbara Chapman Young Investigator Award to the student who delivers the best talk in the view of the award committee. The winner will receive a bound collection of Barbara's papers and a cash award, courtesy of our sponsor NeuroLabWare.

Barbara Chapman

February 6th, 1963 – February 11th, 2013

Barbara Chapman was an outstanding scientist, a leader in the field of developmental neuroscience, and an inspiring mentor and educator.

Barbara graduated from Western Reserve Academy high school in 1980 where she received the Harlan N. Wood prize, awarded to the senior whose “work and accomplishment was distinguished by exceptional effort and whose example has been of great value to academic morale”. Later in 2007, Western Reserve Academy awarded Barbara the Edward E. Morley Medal for Scientific Achievement of an alumna.

Barbara received her B.A. from Harvard-Radcliffe in 1984.

Barbara completed her PhD in 1991 working in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Stryker at UCSF. Barbara studied the development of orientation selectivity in visual cortex, the effects of visual deprivation on cortical development, and the organization of thalamic connections that establish orientation selectivity.

Barbara then conducted postdoctoral training with Dr. Tobias Bonhoeffer at the Max Planck Institute for Psychiatry in Munich where she continued to study the development of orientation preferences. She completed a second postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Scott Fraser at Caltech where she extended her studies of neuronal development to the vestibular organ of the zebra fish.

Barbara returned to San Francisco and married Lee, her grad-schoolmate, at the Conservatory of Flowers in 1994. They had two daughters: Eliana in 2000 and Natalia in 2004.

In 1995, Barbara joined the faculty in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and the Center for Neuroscience at UC Davis. She rose to the rank of full professor in 2007. In addition to her research, Barbara was deeply committed to graduate student education and served both as the Master Advisor (2003-2006) and the Chair of the Neuroscience Graduate Program (2009-2012). She also co-directed the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory summer course on "Structure, Function, and Development of the Visual System" (2005-2011). She was the thesis advisor for Daniel Slutsky, Andrew Huberman, Colenso Spear, Samuel Failor, and Zachary Davis, and mentored postdoctoral fellows Imke Gödecke, Farran Briggs, Chao Sun, and Sarah Karlen. Barbara was beloved for her kindness towards all students, her lack of pretense in the pursuit of excellence, and her ability to instill her joy for science and discovery in others. She was also an outstanding role model for everyone and especially for women in science.

At UC Davis, Barbara’s research program made several seminal discoveries that revealed the roles of neural activity in the shaping of connections in the developing brain. Her research on the mammalian visual system provided key insights into the mechanisms that establish the precise neural mapping between the eyes and the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus, and revealed the role of retinal activity in the development of ocular dominance columns and binocular receptive fields within primary visual cortex.

This text is adapted from an Obituary for Barbara from UC Davis provided by Marty Usrey.

Barbara Chapman Award Winners

  1. Ferret Brain Meeting 2017: Daniel E. Wilson, Max Planck Florida Institute

  2. Ferret Brain Meeting 2021: Katarina Poole, University College London