#Brainweek Partner Interview: Rebeca Toledo Cárdenas

This is the third and final interview in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner Q&As, in which partners share their experiences and tips for planning successful events. Dra. Ma. Rebeca Toledo Cárdenas is a professor and researcher at the Centro de Investigaciones Cerebrales at the Universidad Veracruzana in Mexico.

Rebeca Toledo1Last year, the Centro de Investigaciones Cerebrales of the Universidad Veracruzana celebrated its tenth anniversary as a Brain Awareness Week partner. Can you tell us how you celebrated and what kind of events were held?

The organization of this program began with the consensus and participation of all the researchers at the Centro de Investigaciones Cerebrales of Universidad Veracruzana (CICE-UV), as well as an important group of enthusiastic graduate and undergraduate students. This teamwork has allowed us to remain in the presence of the public during these ten years.

The organization of “Brain Awareness Week, Xalapa, 2017″ began in January of the same year, with the organization of the working groups, invitations to participating speakers, and the logistics to use the facilities for the event. Xalapa was one of the 20 Mexican cities to organize Brain Awareness Week and remains the only city in the state of Veracruz to organize a program with the support of the Universidad Veracruzana.

Our program was attended by special guests from the Universidad Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla (BUAP). We also had an important group of students, administrative support staff, and volunteers from the Universidad Veracruzana. Under the title “10 Years Celebrating the Brain,” we spoke about the magnificence of our brains, explaining the set of scientific disciplines that study the structure and function of the organ.

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Poster for the tenth anniversary of Brain Awareness Week in Xalapa. Photo courtesy of Universidad Veracruzana.

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Interview with Science Cheerleader Hilary Nicholson

Science Cheerleaders is an organization that works to confront stereotypes around cheerleaders and academics in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Members travel around the country to speak at schools, festivals, sports games, on TV, and more, to help connect groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. We spoke with member and national coordinator, Hilary Nicholson, Ph.D., who is currently a medical oncology research fellow at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School. Nicholson completed her Ph.D. at Brown University, where she also coached cheerleaders for the Brown Bears football team.

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Nicholson in her Ph.D. lab at Brown University.

1. Can you explain the idea behind Science Cheerleaders and how you got involved?

HN: The Science Cheerleaders are a group of over 300 current and former professional and collegiate cheerleaders who also have advanced degrees and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. We aim to playfully challenge stereotypes surrounding what a scientist looks like and who can be an engineer, programmer, mathematician, etc., while also encouraging young girls to become engaged in STEM through citizen science projects and serving as role models ourselves.

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#Brainweek Partner Interview: Piero Paolo Battaglini

This is the first in a series of Brain Awareness Week partner interviews, in which partners share their experiences and tips for planning successful events. Piero Paolo Battaglini is a full professor of physiology at the University of Trieste in Italy. He is also a member of the European Dana Alliance for the Brain.

Trieste, Olimpiadi delle Neuroscienze 2015 ph Massimo GoinaYour past Brain Awareness Week events have ranged from theatre production to radio shows, and conferences to music concerts. How do you organize such a diverse program each year, and have there been any particularly well-received events that you’d like to highlight?

I live in a University campus (University of Trieste), in a city where there is a second university—the International School for Advanced Studies (ISAS). At both schools, there is a community of neuroscientist who more or less all know each other. What I do yearly is to send an email to everyone I know who might be willing to organize something directly at the University, or through a colleague, Chiara Saviane, who does the same coordination at ISAS. Everybody knows that if they propose something, it is up to them to do it. My contribution is simply to organize the calendar, avoiding overlaps as much as possible. Because of the enthusiasm of the organizers, all events are generally well-received. If I had to rank them, the best events are those where new insight into neuroscience research are given. Among others, neuroscience cafes are often very successful.

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International Neuroethics Society Interviews: A Science that Opens Your Mind

As we look forward to the 2017 International Neuroethics Society (INS) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC, November 9-10, we’ll be bringing you a sneak peek of what to expect through a series of interviews with some of the meetings’ speakers. Registration for the meeting is now open, and an early bird discount is in effect until September 30.

First published in the INS Newsletter:

Quirion_RemiRémi Quirion, the first Chief Scientist of Québec, will give a plenary lecture at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C. His research lies in the field of neuropharmacology, specifically in relation to aging and neurological diseases such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

How did you become interested in or involved with this type of research?

My research lab was based in a mental health hospital. There I was surrounded by many people suffering from various types of mental illnesses and neurological disease, so it familiarized me with different issues related to mental health and exposed me to the line between neuroscience and ethics, which I sought to understand more and more in the treatment of mental illnesses.

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Brain Awareness Week Partner Interview: NW Noggin

This is the third in a series of Brain Awareness Week (BAW) partner interviews, in which partners share their BAW experiences and tips for planning successful events. Bill Griesar, Ph.D., is a psychology and neuroscience professor at Portland State University (PSU), Washington State University (WSU) Vancouver, and Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), and is the neuroscience outreach coordinator for NW Noggin (Neuroscience Outreach Group Growing In Networks). Griesar works together with Jeff Leake, who also teaches at PSU and WSUV, and is NW Noggin’s art education coordinator.   

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Griesar (left) and Leake (right) at the 2016 Society for Neuroscience conference in San Diego

NW Noggin was conceptualized in 2012 for a group of middle school students at a public school in Portland, Oregon. With support from organizations like the Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization (IRCO) and the Association for Psychological Science, your group has now expanded to a nationwide focus. Can you talk about how you were able to expand so rapidly in such a short amount of time? 

BG: Through the tireless enthusiasm of our graduate and undergraduate volunteers, who quickly discovered how much they enjoy sharing what they’re learning about the brain with young people and the public. It’s also the multi-disciplinary nature of the outreach, with young scientists and artists working together and discovering similarities in their process: the creative experimentation, the structure-function relationships, the fun, often the messiness, and certainly the need to communicate!

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