The Fast and the Curious: Science on Wheels

Brain Awareness Week just rolled into town—no, really. The BioBus, a New York City science lab on wheels, helped kick off this year’s Brain Awareness Week with a day of brainy crafts, mind-benders, and maximum magnification courtesy of the lab’s research-grade microscopes.

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Science enthusiasts get “hands-on” with human and sheep brains (center and bottom-right, respectively) in Manhattan’s historic Harlem, N.Y. March 9, 2019.

Brain Awareness Week is all about outreach, and the BioBus–with its solar-panels, lab equipment, and Ph.D. cadre of scientists–is well equipped on its mission of bringing science exploration and the thrill of discovery to historically underrepresented communities. The organization lists its goal as helping “minority, female, and low-income K-12 and college students in New York City discover, explore, and pursue science.” It should come as no surprise then, that the science and activities on-board are tailored to jump-start the spark of curiosity nascent in tomorrow’s scientists. Continue reading

Be braiNY in the Big Apple

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Brain Awareness Week begins on Monday, and partners all around the world have been working hard coordinating events and activities—now it’s up to you to attend! If you live in the New York City area, our good friends at braiNY, the Greater NYC Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience, have put together a diverse series of events happening throughout the month of March.

The BioBus will be parked uptown (on W. 125 St. and Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd.) on March 9, from 10 am to 3 pm, for kids and adults wanting to hop onboard the Mobile Lab for some hands-on science. Attendees will also have a chance to speak to real scientists who study the brain.

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The BioBus during a past Brain Awareness Week campaign

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Series Combats Disorders: First Up, Epilepsy

caveat logo.JPGPeople with epilepsy were once thought to be possessed by demons or evil spirits. Dubbed “the sacred disease,” epilepsy was profoundly misunderstood for centuries, even after the disorder was explained to be of human origin. So why is it, so many years later, that epilepsy is still not fully understood? And why is there still so much stigma attached to a disorder which affects approximately one in 26 people in the United States?

Caveat NYC, BraiNY, and the Epilepsy Foundation are attempting to eliminate that stigma. Last week saw the first part of a three-part event series, titled “A Lot On The Mind: Epilepsy.” Held at Caveat at 21 A Clinton St. in Manhattan and open to the public, tickets are $15 each. Each event in the series is hosted by Stephanie Rogers, a Ph.D. candidate at New York University and an adjunct instructor at Fordham University. The series focuses on educating and demystifying misconceptions on epilepsy, autism, and Huntington’s Disease.

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Stephanie Rogers. Photo: Caveat NYC

Rogers, whose sister suffers from untreatable epilepsy, began by showing slides that explained the origins and causes of epilepsy. They include brain infection, head trauma, brain tumor, and stroke, as well as a genetic link. However, as Rogers explained, the cause of epileptic seizures remains a mystery in many patients. Continue reading

SfN18: Celebrating Women in Science Luncheon

Guest post by Kayt Sukel 

Type “self-promotion” into the search field of Dictionary.com and you’ll be rewarded with the following definition:

self-pro·mo·tion, noun, plural noun: self-promotions

  1. the action of promoting or publicizing oneself or one’s activities, especially in a forceful way.

“she’s guilty of criminally bad taste and shameless self-promotion”

Dr. Yasmin Hurd speaks during the Celebration of Women in Neuroscience luncheon. Photo courtesy of Fiona Randall

Yasmin Hurd, the Ward-Coleman Chair of Translational Neuroscience and the director of the Addiction Institute at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine, said it’s a definition that can make you take a step back.

“The word for me is a bit of a problem,” she said, as part of the panel discussion regarding the art and science of effective self-promotion at the Celebration of Women in Neuroscience luncheon at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting this week. “Did I get asked to present today because of my criminally bad taste? I hope not!” Continue reading

SfN18: Telling Stories of Science

Guest post by Kayt Sukel 

There’s an old Hopi proverb: “Those who tell the stories rule the world.”

In today’s world, where science seems to often get short shrift, Wendy Suzuki, a neuroscientist at New York University and a member of the Dana Alliance, believes that storytelling can be a powerful tool for scientists to share, teach, and connect with the world outside their laboratories. She convened the second storytelling session at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting this year, recruiting scientists and science educators like Monica Feliu-Mojer, director of communications and science outreach at Ciencia Puerto Rico; Rachel Yehuda, director of the traumatic stress studies division at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine; Paula Croxson, senior manager for education programs at Columbia University’s Zuckerman Institute; Jean Mary Zarate, senior editor at Nature Neuroscience; and Uri Hasson, professor of neuroscience at Princeton University, to discuss why stories can be so compelling—and what they can offer the average budding neuroscientist. Part storytelling event and part scientific presentation, each participant demonstrated how personal narratives can transform science communication in different ways.

Monica Feliu-Mojer tackled the elephant in the room with the first presentation in the session, “Who Speaks for Science?”  Continue reading

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