Exploring the Personal Side of Science

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A collegiate swim team, uncontrollable diarrhea, an uncle’s drum solo, green Jell-O, and getting lost in the streets of Bogotá, Colombia, may seem like unlikely elements at a Brain Awareness Week event. But not at the annual “Studying the Brain: A Storytelling Event hosted by The Friedman Brain Institute,” which highlights personal stories from Mount Sinai students, fellows, and professors. Five brainy participants stepped out of the lab and classroom and onto the stage of El Barrio’s Artspace PS109 in Manhattan, to share real life events that unexpectedly influenced their scientific journeys. Paula Croxson, assistant professor of neuroscience and psychiatry and the 2018 SfN Science Educator Award recipient, and Casey Lardner, Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience, hosted the BraiNY event.

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#Brainweek: BioBase 2018

One of the newest buildings in Harlem’s historic neighborhood is now home to the Jerome L. Greene Science Center, part of Columbia University’s Zuckerman Mind Brain Behavior Institute. The idea behind the Science Center’s construction was to have a designated place to support human connection, intellectual excellence, and pioneering research that goes beyond traditional academic boundaries. So, it only makes sense that the state-of-the-art glass and steel research center is where the BioBase opened its doors to the public for Brain Awareness Week on Monday.

The BioBase was bustling with young students and adults who explored the various stations to test out science experiments and research-grade lab equipment for themselves. Chief scientist Latasha Wright, Ph.D., who spearheaded the creation of the BioBase and the internship program at its sister facility, the BioBus, gave me a tour of the community lab and explained the different experiments that were designed to engage everyone from grades K-12 and up.


A young visitor tests the microscope’s magnifying power by zooming up on an ant’s eye.

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Happy Brain Awareness Week!


Seyitgazi Middle School students celebrate Brain Awareness Week 2017, organized by Eskişehir Osmangazi University in Turkey.


This week folks all over the world will be taking part in activities organized by people who share our love for the brain (thanks partners!). Brain Awareness Week is a chance for all of us to celebrate and learn more about the organ that is responsible for everything we do.

Events are taking place in venues from concert halls to classrooms, public plazas to cozy bars. Find something near you: Search the Brain Awareness Week calendar, choose your country or city to narrow the choices and go! Currently there are more than 680 events on the calendar; more are often added during this week, some that take place later in the month. (See also specific calendars for UK events and the Be Brainy New York City events)

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The Story Collider: Brain Awareness Edition


Photo credit: Heather McKellar

The ethos of the Story Collider is this: Science touches every part of our lives. It surrounds us, whether we notice it or not. Now in its eighth year, the live storytelling show travels to cities across the US (and soon the UK) to bring personal tales of science to the public through narratives that can be heartbreaking or hilarious. Though the theme sounds strictly academic, it’s everything but. Featured storytellers have included actors, physicists, comedians, writers, and, of course, neuroscientists. But the point of the story is not to educate, as the show’s artistic director Erin Barker reiterated at Tuesday’s show at Caveat in New York City.

Rather than tell the audience what to expect from the show, co-hosts Barker and Paula Croxson bantered and told us what not to expect: “You will not hear any lectures, or seminars. You will not see any PowerPoint presentations. In fact, you won’t learn anything at all tonight… That is the first rule of Story Collider.” The show did have a theme, however, given its partnership with braiNY, the Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, and with Brain Awareness Week (March 12-18) just around the corner: All five storytellers in the lineup had to share a true story involving the brain.

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Brain Awareness Week 2018

Guest post by Urooj Ansari, Social Media Chair at Be Brainy NYC

In 2012, Be Brainy NYC, the Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, held its first Brain Awareness Week. Launched by Ho Yu of Columbia University, the chapter was expanded by Heather McKellar of NYU, Paula Croxson of Mount Sinai, Kelley Remole of Columbia University, Ted Altschuler of Baruch College, and Heather Bowling, formerly of NYU. The earliest members, graduate school friends and colleagues from their respective institutions, met at the Dana Foundation’s office to organize their first events.


Six years later, Be Brainy NYC is still true to its original mission of bringing brain science to the public. With a variety of events beginning next week, individuals from every age group and background imaginable will find activities in the city where they can learn about the squishy two-pound mass encased within their skulls.

One of the first events this year, and the newest one on the calendar, is the “Rap Guide to Consciousness.” With the use of hip hop comedy, “peer-reviewed rapper” Baba Brinkman will explore consciousness in an event for adults. The show will be held every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night through April at the Soho Playhouse.

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