Communicating Science Takes Center Stage at Brain Awareness Reception

“Communicating science is not just the noble thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do,” said adolescent brain expert Jay Giedd, M.D., at Saturday’s annual Brain Awareness Week reception at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) annual meeting. Dr. Giedd, below, the recipient of SfN’s Science Educator Award in 2012, was alluding to the fact that in order for the public to want to invest in brain research, they have to be able to understand its benefits.

Giedd_BAW

The importance of public outreach is a resounding theme within the Brain Awareness Week community, and the audience at the reception was surely in agreement with Giedd’s statement. He further advocated communicating early and often, by going into classrooms and engaging with young students, explaining that kids ask the best (and sometimes difficult) questions. A child once asked him: If Einstein’s brain was moved into another man’s head, which person is Einstein? (Feel free to answer that one in the comments section below.)

Certainly some shining examples of future neuroscientists were two teenagers presenting posters at the reception. Adam Elliott, a junior from Matawan Regional High School in New Jersey, is this year’s National Brain Bee winner (he was announced as the winner in March, when he was a sophomore). SfN is sponsoring an eight-week summer internship at the lab of Elliott’s choice, and he is investigating a lab at Harvard where he could study plasticity or memory-making mechanisms. After graduation, he hopes to continue his studies at Harvard, possibly in the primate lab.

Brain-Bee-Poster-wPhoto

Hasna Rizwan, a 14-year-old homeschooled student in the tenth grade, planned her first Brain Awareness Week event last year (when she was 13!) at the Ashburn Library in Virginia. The Brain Awareness Day featured two scientist presentations and hands-on activities, and drew more than 150 people. She is working with members of the library to expand next year’s program and has already enlisted the help of several organizations.

Homeschool-poster

There were many other wonderful examples of Brain Awareness Week programs on display at the reception, and ample time for people to mingle and share ideas.

Shane Perrine, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry & behavioral neurosciences, presents the Wayne State University BAW poster and models the university’s 2014 winning t-shirt design. The BAW program, a Brain Day held at Michigan Science Center, drew more than 200 kids and their families, who participated in interactive activities such as crafts and trivia using a passport system (to encourage that they visit all exhibits). Tom Fischer, Ph.D., an associate professor in the psychology department, is the lead organizer of the annual Brain Day.

Shane Perrine, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of psychiatry & behavioral neurosciences, presents the Wayne State University BAW poster and models the university’s 2014 winning t-shirt design. The BAW program, a Brain Day held at Michigan Science Center, drew more than 200 kids and their families, who participated in interactive activities such as crafts and trivia using a passport system (to encourage that they visit all exhibits). Tom Fischer, Ph.D., an associate professor in the psychology department, is the lead organizer of the annual Brain Day.

Kathleen Roina, director of BAW, fields questions and gives out free materials at the reception.

Kathleen Roina, director of BAW, fields questions and gives out free materials at the reception.

Alexandria D’Ambruoso, former president of the University of New England’s (UNE) Undergraduate Neuroscience Club and SfN’s 2014 Brain Awareness Travel Award recipient, is one of the presenters of the UNE BAW poster.

Alexandria D’Ambruoso, former president of the University of New England’s (UNE) Undergraduate Neuroscience Club and SfN’s 2014 Brain Awareness Travel Award recipient, is one of the presenters of the UNE BAW poster.

Catching up with Dana friends and colleagues from oversees. (L to R) Dr. Ron Stoop, European Dana Alliance for the Brain member from Switzerland; Sylvie Hammerson, EDAB senior consultant from England; Kathleen Roina; and Dr. Beatrice Roth, EDAB senior project director from Switzerland.

Catching up with Dana friends and colleagues from oversees. (L to R) Dr. Ron Stoop, European Dana Alliance for the Brain member from Switzerland; Sylvie Hammerson, EDAB senior consultant from England; Kathleen Roina; and Dr. Beatrice Roth, EDAB senior project director from Switzerland.

Caption: Kathleen Roina with Eric Chudler, Ph.D., professor at the University of Washington and BAW superstar. Dr. Chudler is our judge for the Design a Brain Experiment competition for U.S. high school students–deadline January 16!

Caption: Kathleen Roina with Eric Chudler, Ph.D., professor at the University of Washington and BAW superstar. Dr. Chudler is our judge for the Design a Brain Experiment competition for U.S. high school students–deadline January 16!

Brain Awareness Week 2015 will take place March 16-22. Visit our website to learn more about the campaign and how to participate!

–Ann L. Whitman

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: