The European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB), in collaboration with the Federation for European Neuroscience Societies (FENS), established two prizes to reward public outreach projects and special contributions by individuals and organizations. The winners of each award will receive Euro 2,000. For more information, click on links below:
• The Dana/EDAB Neuroscience Outreach Champion, also known as The David and Hillie Mahoney Award for an Individual’s Contribution to Outreach will be awarded to an individual — an artist or politician, not necessarily a scientist — who has significantly contributed to the promotion of brain awareness, through continued outreach efforts over a period of years.
• The EDAB-FENS Brain Awareness Week (BAW) Excellence Award will recognize the outstanding presentation of a BAW outreach program in the past two years by an organization.
Deadline: 1 May 2014
At the AAAS/Dana event on sleep last month [see webcast], I was reminded of the time I interviewed sleep expert and Dana Alliance member J. Allan Hobson. At the time, he was excited about his Dreamstage Brain and Sleep Science Museum in East Burke, VT, and he also sold me on his book, From Angels to Neurones: Art and the New Science of Dreaming, which he allowed us to excerpt for a Cerebrum essay. Since then, we’ve talked with him about why we need to sleep to remember.
But his essay that hit me hardest was a more-personal one he wrote for Cerebrum in 2002, “Shock Waves: A Scientist Studies His Stroke.” Hobson had a stroke in 2001, and here describes his recovery in detail, trying to make sense of mysterious changes in his sleep and dreaming. Near-fatal heart failure, bizarre side effects of medications, and other aftershocks followed, and he kept trying to understand developments his doctors often dismissed. “A speculative theoretical bent has always characterized my science,” writes Hobson. “I feel impelled—and pleased—to turn it on myself.”
Since the 1980s, the Dana Foundation has actively promoted and participated in communicating science to the lay public. Helping to lead those efforts was Jane Nevins, Dana Press editor-in-chief emerita, who edited scientist-written publications and books for nearly twenty-five years, tackling topics such as deep brain stimulation, mental illness, and stroke.
In her final year with the foundation, Nevins compiled her best practices into a handy reference book for scientists writing for the lay public, You’ve Got Some Explaining to do: Advice for Neuroscientists Writing for Lay Readers. The book is available for sale at Amazon for $2.99 or as a free PDF on our website.
From the chapter “What Readers Want”:
You want to write something for a particular reason, and your reader wants to read it for the same reason. It’s not about all the science you know, but about the science that fits your and the reader’s attraction to the story. Believe this, and it will lighten your task by orders of magnitude, because you can focus on choosing the appropriate scientific content and making it clear and interesting.
When the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ordered the makers of Ambien to cut their recommended dose in half for women, they were acknowledging that millions of women had been overdosing on the well-known sleep aid for 20 years. Soon after, CBS’s 60 Minutes highlighted this fact—and sex differences in general—in a segment that asked: Why did this happen, and are men and women treated equally in research and medicine?