Empowering Female Neuroscientists

MDierssen-1When Mara Dierssen started her career as a neuroscientist, she often encountered gender discrimination. Working in a male-dominated field, she had to combat stereotypes about passivity and leadership. Lacking a female role model, she now realizes that she was unaware of many of the scientific community’s “unwritten rules,” like how to receive funding for projects, do interviews, and publish findings.

Years later, Dierssen’s strong drive to succeed, intense passion for neuroscience, and work ethic have helped her become  a senior scientist at the Centre for Biomedical Research, president of the Spanish Society for Neuroscience, a member of the European Dana Alliance, as well as a mother of four children. Dierssen, who recently talked about gender and neuroscience in an interview with the Society for Neuroscience (SfN),  has become a role model for today’s young female neuroscientists, not only because of her achievements as a neuroscientist, but also through her dedication to public outreach and gender equality.

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2015 Brain Awareness Reception at SfN

This year’s annual Brain Awareness Reception took place in Chicago’s massive McCormick Place on Saturday, as part of an eventful program created by the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). The main floor was filled with rows of more than 600 exhibitors, showcasing new tools, technologies, and publishing opportunities for communicating science. Meanwhile, the upstairs space was dedicated entirely to celebrating the work done by students, postdocs, scientists (several Dana Alliance members included), educators, and general brain enthusiasts who devote their time to public outreach efforts.

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Kathleen Roina, director of BAW (right), and Amanda Bastone (left) handing out free educational resources at the reception.

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E. Paul Zehr Receives SfN Science Educator Award

EPZ.courtesyEPZEach year, the Society for Neuroscience recognizes outstanding neuroscientists who have strongly added to public education and awareness about the field. The Dana Foundation sponsors these awards.

At the University of Victoria, E. Paul Zehr, PhD, extends our knowledge of the neural control of movement and neural plasticity after stroke. In addition to establishing a community seminar series called Café Scientifique,  Dr. Zehr reaches many audiences through live presentations, radio and TV, as well as writing. His pop-sci books—Becoming Batman, Inventing Iron Man, Project Superhero and, coming in 2016, Something Superhuman—use the ideas of superheroes to explain scientific concepts. Continue reading

Adam Gazzaley Receives SfN Science Educator Award

GazzeleyClaspEach year, the Society for Neuroscience recognizes outstanding neuroscientists who have strongly added to public education and awareness about the field. The Dana Foundation sponsors these awards.

Adam Gazzaley, MD, PhD, has made significant contributions to our understanding of cognitive changes as people grow older, as well as novel approaches to enhance our cognitive abilities. He gives talks to audiences of all sorts around the world about such topics as aging, mindfulness, and video games. He is  currently writing a book for the general public based on material in his 2012 special on PBS, “The Distracted Mind with Dr. Adam Gazzaley.”

Q: Was it a conscious decision to do a lot of education and outreach, as well as research? Continue reading

SfN Dialogues Lecture: Neuroscience’s Role in the Courts

Photo courtesy of the Society for Neuroscience

Photo courtesy of the Society for Neuroscience

Diagnostic tests for judges to measure bias? Cruel solitary confinement for mentally challenged inmates? Psychological exams for individuals applying for gun permits?

These issues and more were discussed by Senior U.S. District Judge Jed S. Rakoff in “Neuroscience and the Law: Strange Bedfellows,” the Dialogues Between Neuroscience and Society lecture at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting in Chicago. The session, moderated by SfN President and Dana board member Steven Hyman, featured a 30-minute talk and more than an hour of questions from Hyman and an audience of a few thousand in the McCormick Center’s main lecture hall.

Rakoff, a founding member of the MacArthur Foundation Project on Law and Neuroscience, began with a self-deprecating approach: “My science background largely consists of me being an English major in college,” he began. While he was precluded from discussing particular cases, he began with what he called “considerable ambivalence and even skepticism by judges toward neuroscience.”
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